Thursday, January 27, 2011

NJPW New Japan Alive Circuit 12-11-2010

NJPW New Japan Alive Circuit
December 11th, 2010
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
Attendance: 6,115



So a friend of mine had been asking me about a recent match-up that Davey Richards and Prince Devitt had recently, so I figured shit let's review the whole shebang, why not. Also on the show are the visiting Motor City Machine Guns from TNA (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin) taking on Tetsuya Naito & Yujiro Takahashi, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, and Satoshi Kojima defending the IWGP Heavyweight title against Shinsuke Nakamura. They're claiming a lttle over 6000 fans paid in attendance, but it lt looks to be about half of that in reality. Let's get right to it.


King Fale vs. Hiromu Takahashi

Fale recently was named one of the ten best rookies of 2010, while Takahashi was given an honorable mention recently in the WON awards. Fale definitely has a lot of potential as he's got a great look and could do very well for himself in a company like New Japan. Takahashi takes Fale down quickly as the match begins and immediately begins targeting Fale's left leg. Fale turns the tables quickly however and hits a crisp running elbow into Takahashi for a two count. Takahashi throws three dropkicks the King's way for a near fall of his own, following it up with a Boston crab in the center of the ring. They exchange Boston crabs for a moment, but Fale wins the battle and applies a Boston crab that makes Takahashi tap out at 8:07. Nothing opener here that was too slow and short to amount to anything meaningful.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Gedo

This is Tenzan's return to Osaka apparently, and his opponent is none other than one of the several bookers of New Japan, Gedo. You might remember him for wrestling Chris Jericho on a WCW PPV once. Or not. Lockup to start but Gedo pokes him in the eye. Tenzan takes the advantage quickly with a few power moves and plays up to the crowd while Gedo takes a breather outside of the ring. Tenzan locks in a sleeper for a bit back in the ring but misses a headbutt to follow it up. Man Gedo is still pretty ripped for a guy his age and size. Gedo begins working on Tenzan's neck while one of the Japanese commentators says something about WCW (both men having wrestled there in the 90s). Gedo continues the beatdown but Tenzan starts to hulk up while maybe a dozen half-interested fans in the crowd rally behind him. Gedo goes back to working on the neck and talking trash. Tenzan misses a spinning heel kick and Gedo just continues pounding away on his neck. Tenzan starts the comeback with chops and a running clothesline. He slams Gedo's head into the mat off the top rope in what could almost be considered a bulldog. Tenzan climbs to the top rope again but misses a Chris Benoit-like diving headbutt. He hits the spinning heel kick this time and follows it up with a variation clutch piledriver and then applies a nasty armbar for the submission victory at 8:43. Another short and inoffensive match to open the show. Sometimes you wish they'd just cut a few of these short opening matches and give more time to other matches.


Koji Kanemoto/Manabu Nakanishi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi/Tama Tonga

Kanemoto was the third incarnation of Tiger Mask for those unaware of any puro history and he was one of the most important part of New Japan's roster in the mid 90s. Taguchi and Koji start things off, trading forearms and European uppercuts. Taguchi hit a dropkick and attempts to apply a wristlock only to be reversed. They do a quick counter sequence much to the crowds delight, and Kanemoto tags in Nakanishi while Taguchi tags in Tonga. Tonga is like some strange crossbreed of a black 70s pimp and a Samoan wrestler. Nakanishi beats him down for a bit and tags Koji back in, who trades shoulder blocks with Tonga. Taguchi comes back in and applies a half-leg crab briefly. Koji and Tonga start bumping around the ring at a rapid pace. Taguchi springboards into the ring but is met with a deadly kick from Koji. He gives Taguchi the old-fashioned face-wash in the corner but Taguchi keeps fighting back, hitting a trio of suplexes and an enziguri for a near fall. Nakanishi tags back in and chops Tonga into the corner while Taguchi and Koji fight outside the ring, clearly setting up the approaching end of the match. Taguchi and Tonga try to double team Nakanishi for a bit to no avail as he gives them a pair of double nortern lights suplexes. Tonga rolls him up for a close 2 count as the rules have completely broken down and it's basically a tornado tag match. Eventually Nakanishi gets Tonga up on his shoulders in a torture rack for the submission victory at 9:26. Solid little match here as they managed to work some nice stuff into a short period of time. Perfectly acceptable wrestling. **½


Tiger Mask IV vs. Tomohiro Ishii

TMIV doesn't do too well with larger guys, so we'll see how this one goes. Before Tiger can even make it to the ring Ishii attacks, only to be thrown into the steel barricade and pounced on back inside the ring. TM is dominating here in the early going as Ishii can't get any offense in, breaking a submission and sliding to the outside once again. Bacs ak in he's met with a few stiff kicks and punches. Big smack across the face sends Ishii reeling but only momentarily as he delivers a big powerslam to Tiger Mask. He ties TM up in the tree of woe in the corner and tries to unlace Tiger's mask from behind, which the referee manages to stop. Big suplex back in the ring and Ishii is back to trying to untie the infamous mask. They battle outside the ring and up the ramp where Tiger gives picks up Ishii and delivers a damned tombstone on the stage! You'd think that would put a guy out for the count, but remember it's a 20 count in Japan so he makes it back just barely, only to be kicked back outside the ring. TM doesn't want the countout victory though and he drags him back in before the next 20 count. He delivers a tiger driver for a two count and then follows it up with another tombstone. He tries another suplex but is thrown into the ref which gives Ishii the chance to deliver a low blow. Tiger hits a crucifix driver but the ref is out and by the time he gets back it's only a 1 count. Ishii finishes off Tiger with a big lariat at 8:27 to the crowd's surprise. I'm glad the TMIV push is over, but I didn't think he'd be doing jobbing duties so soon. Decent enough for what it was. **¼


Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin vs. Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro Takahashi

Now this should be pretty good as the Motor City Machine Guns always bring their A game overseas. But then again, when don't they bring their A game? No Limit (Naito & Takahashi) attack MCMG before the bell rings and we're off. Sabin and Shelley quickly change this however and hit a pair of crossbody splashes and suicide dives to the outside, sending No Limit crashing to the floor. Back in the ring Shelley hits a dropkick for a two count. Takahashi is tagged in and starts laying in forearms on Shelley. Takahashi ducks out of the ring only to be met with a stiff boot from Sabin on the apron. The Guns hit their signature dropkick move on Takahashi and then deliver perfectly synchronize splashes to their opponents outside of the ring, sending the crowd crazy. MCMG are REALLY over in Japan. Back in the ring Takahashi puts Shelley into a camel clutch and Naito hits a big missle dropkick to Shelley's face similar to the Guns move. A suplex gets two for No Limit. Naito tags back in as he and Takahashi begin to isolate Shelley in their corner. This goes on for awhile with the ref being distracted as Naito applies cheap shots. A painful neckbreaker followed with a cocky pin only gets two. Shelley fights back with elbows and chops, attempting to run to the corner and tag Sabin in only for Takahashi to grab him at the last minute and drag him back to his corner for more double team manuevers. Naito hits his own partner with an enziguri in a creative reversal spot as the crowd begins to really get behind the Guns, leading Sabin to get the hot tag. He exchanges waistlocks with Naito for a bit before giving Takahashi a crisp tornado DDT. Sabin hits the springboard elbow for a two count. Naito hits a nasty neckbreaker on Sabin draped over the second rope, and Takahashi is tagged in to deliver a big powerslam afterwards. Attempted gut-wrench suplex but Shelley saves his partner with a superkick. Roundhouse kick to Naito and the Guns are all fired up, hitting the Hardy Boyz corner spot once and attempting it a second time only for Takahashi to slam Sabin back down to the mat ala Samoa Joe. Takahashi hits a beautiful overhead belly to belly suplex on Sbain and follows it up with a big lariat for another near fall. A brainbuster and a gut wrench power bomb gets the three count on Sabin to give No Limit the win at 12:39. Very fun little tag team match here between two very good teams, the Guns are always great and they meshed very well with Naito and Takahashi. Good match. ***


IWGP Tag Team Title Match
Giant Bernard/Karl Anderson (C) vs. Yuji Nagata/Wataru Inoue


This is the title shot that Nagata and Inoue earned by winning the 2010 G1 Tag League. Bernard may better be remembered as Albert/A-Train from the WWE. Anderson is like a Matt Morgan meets Claudio Castagnoli. Match starts off about as you'd expect it to with Bernard using his power on Inoue before sending him to the outside. He grabs a chair but misses him, giving Inoue the chance to hit a running knee off the apron. Karl Anderson quickly joins himm outside the ring for a breather. Anderson is tagged in, as is Nagata and the match is infinitely improved because of it. They exchange pleasantries, or rather forearms and kicks as Nagata quickly takes advantage with his usually deadly but in this case lazy kicks to the shin. Nagata tries to work on the leg to no avail and tags Inoue back in for some double-team striking fun. Bernard and Anderson hit some tandem power moves on Inoue and then take out Nagata with a pair of big boots. Anderson gets a two count on Inoue and sends him to the outside for more punishment from Bernard. He gets rammed into the post and finally the count begins. Another pair of two counts in the ring as Bernard and Anderson begin to isolate Inoue in their corner. Wataru gets draped over the apron for a big legdrop and another big boot from Bad Intentions who take the opportunity to taunt the fans for a bit. The double teaming on Inoue continues for awhile but eventually Inoue gets the tag with Nagata. More forearms and kicks from Nagata followed up by a yakuza kick into the corner. Nagata goes for an exploder suplex but botches it uncharacteristically as Bernard is too big and almost lands directly on his neck. A brainbuster gets two but it's broken up by Bernard who's then met with a shining wizard from Nagata. Another brainbuster gets two for Yuji here, but Nagata is in the definite advantage. Inoue headbutts Bernard so hard in the crotch he actually falls off of the apron and he returns to laying into Anderson with a spear and a power bomb followed with a version of crucifix driver turned into an armbar. Nagata puts Bernard into the crippler crossface briefly next to him but the big man gets out of it and breaks up the other submission hold in the process. Inoue hits a HUGE German suplex on Bernard for a near fall that the crowd totally falls for. Good crowd tonight. Inoue misses a splash in the corner and Bernard hits him with a huge powerbomb for another close near fall, prompting Bernard to argue with the ref for a moment and giving Nagata the chance to give him a big boot. Inoue spears Bernard for another two. He runs for a splash but out of nowhere Anderson hits him with a Diamond Cutter/RKO for another two count. Eventually Bernard hits a a piledriver for the victory and to retain the tag titles at 17:23. Pretty good match here between these two teams, and the crowd was really into it. Still, it was a bit long and never really seemed to get out of second gear. **¾


IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match
Prince Devitt (C) vs. Davey Richards


Oh hell yes, now we've gotten to the main reason I wanted to review this show in the first place, that being the dream match meeting here between New Japan juniors ace Prince Devitt and one of the United States' very finest workers in Davey Richards. As far as I know this is their first ever singles meeting. I expect this to be no less than awesome. A small "Davey!" chant breaks out before the match among what I have to assume are some Japanese smarks. Bell rings and they trade dropkicks briefly before Davey bails to the outside and then sneaks back in and takes Prince down with a running knee. They trade body slams and Davey climbs to the top rope and lets out a large wolf howl to the crowd's shock before hitting a Benoit-esque diving headbutt for a two count. Devitt hits Davey with a nice pele kick and both men are down for a brief count. Running knee from Devitt misses and he's thrown to the outside where Davey meets him with a beautiful somersault plancha that takes him all the way over the barricade and into the commentators behind the guard rail! Both men barely make it back inside the ring before the 20 count and Devitt is really selling the ribs from an abdominal stretch applied earlier. Davey takes the advantage taking Prince into the corner and delivering a textbook superplex from the top rope for another near fall. Davey is clearly playing the heel here and it's working. He puts Devitt into a sharpshooter and the crowd has started to get into it now, rallying behind Devitt and showering Davey in boos when he taunts the crowd. Getting heel heat in Japan is one of the hardest things one can do, so that's rather impressive. Davey kindly informs Devitt in the corner that "I'm going to kill you motherfucker!" to my amusement. Devitt starts fighting back though, hitting a big dropkick and following it up with a back suplex off of the top rope for a close two count. Roaring elbow from Davey gets a two count of his own and he starts to hype himself up, hitting Devitt with a flurry of stiff slaps and kicks for another near fall. Davey climbs to the top and declares it's over. He goes for a shooting star press but Devitt lifts the knees up at the last moment and Davey is sent to the outside. Devitt hypes himself up and rips off the bandages around his ribs in a sign of toughness before flying to the outside with a huge tope. Back in the ring he hits a double stomp off the top rope to Davey's lower back for another quick two count. They reverse a few rollups but Davey locks him back into the sharpshooter and drags him to the center of the ring. BOth me are fired up now, performing a beautiful flurry of missed spin kicks before Devitt hits a roundhouse kick and a modified brainbuster/tiger suplex combination for the 3 count to retain the title at 13:04. Damn, that was too short for an epic meeting like this, but it's understandable that Devitt would dispose of Richards without too much trouble considering he's a main eventer and Davey is still a midcarder in Japan. Very good match as you'd expect from these two, but it's nothing close to what I can imagine these two are capable of with another ten minutes or so. ***½


Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma vs. Takashi Iizuka/Toru Yano

Honma has long been an underrated favorite of mine and is probably best remembered in the wrestling world for making Big Japan a respectable wrestling promotion in the late 90s by putting on actual great WRESTLING matches that would involve weapons spots and not just having garbage "I stab you, you stab me" deathmatches like most Japanese promotions did at the time. The guy is still hardcore as fuck and has a back of nasty scars to prove it. Before the match Iizuka roughs up the commentators but King Fale of all people helps separate them and make sure the commentators are okay. Honma and Makabe come out and the match begins almost immediately before the announcements are even finished. The match quickly falls to the outside of the ring and we've got a huge brawl here, as you'd have to expect really with these four guys in the same match, all them renowned for their brawling skills. Eventually they make their way back to the ring and the team of Yano & Iizuka double team Makabe for a bit. Honma breaks it up with a missle dropkick to both men and they spill back outside again for a breather. Things settle down and it's left to Honma and Yano in the ring. Honma takes the advantage for a bit before Iizuka catches him with a sleeper in the ropes and tosses him into the steel barricade outside the ring. He picks up a chair and smashes it into Honma's back on the outside, almost half-heartedly. Back inside Iizuka and Yano begin isolating Honma, hitting him again with a steel chair while the referee is distracted. Iizuka attempts a few pins for near falls. Eventually Honma tags in Makabe who starts the comeback with clotheslines and forearms in the corner. A bridging northern lights suplex gets a two count, so Makabe attempts a German suplex but Iizuka weasels out of it and delivers a jaw-jacker. Yano tags in but eats a lariat for his troubles, allowing Makabe to tag Honma back in who somersaults into a neckbreaker from the top rope for a near fall. He delivers another pair of lariats for a pair of near falls. Honma is getting fired up now, going to the top but Iizuka runs up and slams some kind of small steel instrument into Honma's chest, knocking him off and giving Yano the chance to give him a big powerbomb for the win at 10:46. Nothing match with a nice finish, about as good of a match as you'd expect from four brawlers in ten minutes. Nothing you can't see on any New Japan show ever these days though. **¼



Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto

This could be a big match for Goto as he's been on the brink of breaking out into the main event for quite some time and getting a victory over a bonafide star like Tanahashi could do him wonders. Lockup to start as both men are feeling eachother out, exchanging headlocks and hip-tosses. Tanahashi hits a beautiful lionsault quickly on Goto, igniting the crowd. Dropkick to the outside and Tanahashi follows it up with a diving somersault off the apron, but Goto moves at the last moment. Great pace to start this match off. Tanahashi barely makes it back into the ring at the count of 19. Goto takes the upper hand inside the ring with a snapmare and some stiff kicks. Tanahashi starts to awaken after being worked down a bit and hits an enziguri, only to be met moments later with an enziguri from Goto. They climb to the top rope and tease power bombs but both lose their balance and come crashing to the mat. Tanahashi is first up and delivers quick kicks and a roaring elbow. He follows a bodyslam in the corner with a senton that hits this time for a 2 count. They exchange forearms in the middle of the ring for a bit before Goto delivers one of the stiffest headbutts I've ever seen directly into Tanahashi's jaw, apparently knocking him out cold. Excellent selling there from Tanahashi. A stiff slapfest ensues but Tanahashi hits a German suplex for two! He bounces off the ropes but Goto meets him with a big Saito suplex of his own, laying both men out. Crowd is coming alive again here. Goto hits another side suplex and then follows it with a variation of a death valley driver for a very close two count. A suplex is reversed into a rollup for another near fall for Tanahashi. Goto attempts another death valley driver but Tanahashi reverses it into a neckbreaker and follows it up with a Michinoku driver for two! He leaps to the top rope but misses a big frog splash. Goto gives him a lariat to the back of the head and then follows it up with two more huge lariats for another near-fall. Goto lifts Tanahashi onto his shoulders and then delivers a backbreaker. He attempts another but Tanahashi reverses it into a dragon suplex! 1-2--NOOO! Another near fall. Crowd is really into the action here as both men chase eachother around the ring a bit bouncing off the ropes until Tanahashi hits a neckbreaker and follows it up with a cross-body block from the top rope and then finally he hits the frog splash for the 3 count and victory at 16:55! Very good match here between these two as they always seem to have pretty nice chemistry in the ring. Tanahashi is still one of the best in Japan today and he proved it again with an excellent performance here, though Goto more than held up his own. Fun match. ***½

After the match Tanahashi geets a few brightly colored oversized cardboard checks for winning the match. Hard to believe that's money.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
Satoshi Kojima (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura


Kojimma's title run in 2010 was one of the bigger surprises of the year as the former All Japan wrestler was hotshotted to the title very quickly much to the crowd's surprise and dismay. Can't say he hasn't taken advantage of this opportunity though as he usually brings the goods during this title reign. Lockup to start things off. This continues for several minutes, exchanging restholds until Nakamura takes Kojima to the mat with a nasty sleeper hold on the mat. Kojima gets the rope break but is met with some big kicks from Nakamura after getting to his feet. Kojima grabs his leg on the last kick and slams it into the mat, beginning to work on it with a steady stream of kicks targeted on the middle thigh of Nakamura's right leg. Kojima lifts his leg all the way to the top rope and then targets the thigh again with another stiff kick. He falls to the outside but chop blocks Nakamura off the apron. On the outside now he drapes his leg over the steel barricade, picks up a steel chair and slams it right onto the leg he's working on! Nakamura is in a world of pain here and selling properly along the way. Back in the ring Kojima locks on a half Boston crab for a bit, apparently just toying with the injured Nakamura in the ring now. Nakamura briefly gets a rope break but is then put into a sharpshooter for his troubles. Kojima is really starting to dominate here, whipping Nakamura across the ring with ease and hitting a top rope elbow for another two count. Kojima tries for a roaring elbow but Nakamura grabs his elbow and turns him around into a nasty Fujiwara armbar. Nakamura starts the comeback here, avoiding Kojima's offense and ramming his knee into Kojima's sternum while he's draped over the top rope. On the mat Nakamura continues to ram his knee into Kojima's sides for a close two count. Kojima tries to escape but is met with another big running knee to the back of the head outside of the apron. Nakamura kind of forgets about selling the leg here briefly which is distracting momentarily, but he soon remembers it. He hits a beautiful spinning kick but is only met with a lariat to knock both men out on the mat. Back on their feet they exchange forearms briefly until Kojima hits a big ace crusher and follows it up with a brainbuster for two. Kokima cradles Nakamura's leg and head together in an odd but painful looking submission but Nakamura tries to reverse it into an armbar only to be kicked in the face. Kojima sticks Nakamura on the top rope and follows him for a top rope frankensteiner! He goes for a lariat but Nakamura spins around him and locks him into an armbar on the mat! Crowd is red hot here for this match. Nakamura keeps cranking back on the arm for awhile until Kojima finally gets to the ropes for the break. Visibly wounded, Nakamura begins laying in kicks on the arm he was just working on, locking him into a sleeper hold afterwards and a near fall. He pancakes Kojima on the mat with a back suplex and then knees him in the throat and attempts a tiger suplex, only to be given a low-blow. Knee to the back of Kojima's head puts both men back on the mat again. Kojima hits another big lariat for a near fall that the crowd totally buys into and they erupt at the kickout again. Forearms and big kicks are exchanged but Kojima gets another big lariat on Nakamura and the 3 count at 19:17 to retain his title. Excellent main event here with psychology and stiffness to boot, Kojima proves again that he's a worthy main eventer and Nakamura continues to set himself up for a great future in the company. Won't be long before he's on Tanahashi's level I'd imagine. ***½


Bottom Line: Good show is about as simple as I can put it. Good, but not quite great. We've got several good matches on the card but nothing that will shock your 2010 Match of the Year rankings, but the crowd is great most of the night and the show is never truly boring so it's a pretty easy recommendation. Thumbs up.

Score: 7/10

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