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1/4 NJPW Tokyo Dome results: MVP & Benjamin, Tanahashi remains IWGP Hvt. champion, Mutoh, NJPW vs. NOAH matches

Jan 4, 2012 - 11:35:57 AM
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New Japan Tokyo Dome Show results
January 4, 2012
Tokyo, Japan
Report by Chris Charlton, PWTorch reader


I was at NJPW's traditional year-opening Tokyo Dome show today. Breaking from the last couple of years, TNA was absent from the card, with cross promotion with NOAH and All Japan instead. No great loss in terms of drawing power and I can only imagine its a cheaper option for New Japan, who must lose money on Wrestle Kingdom every year.

(1) Apollo 55 (Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt) beat Rocky Romero & Davey Richards to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championships when Taguchi pinned Richards. The challengers came out in astronaut gimmicks, which was amusing. Early heel work by the champions led to a springboard back elbow by Taguchi and a hot tag. Taguchi and Devitt got some high-flying offense including a combo reverse frog splash and double stomp for two at the six-minute mark. The finish came when Richards had Taguchi up for a powerbomb, but it was countered to a victory roll at 13 minutes. Very good opener.

(2) Mascara Dorada & Tiger Mask & Kushida & Jushin Thunder Liger beat TAKA Michinoku & Taichi & Valiente & Atlantis in an eight-man tag match when Liger pinned Valiente. Team Liger was bought out by Atom Boy, complete with anime intro, which was unique. An expected high-paced spotfest. Some entertaining heel work from Taichi and Michinoku prevented Liger and Dorada from getting involved at one point, but a comeback lead to a series of dives to the outside. Liger won with a Liger Bomb followed by a brainbuster.

(3) Yoshi-Hashi beat Kazuchika Okada. Okada hit a suicide dive early and took control, working over Yoshi. A missed swanton at the four-minute mark lead to a comeback. Lariat at 4:30 and that was it. Very tepid reaction.

(4) Masayuki Kono & Masakatsu Funaki (AJPW) beat Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue (NJPW) when Funaki pinned Inoue. This marked Funaki's return to a NJPW ring after over 20 years. The All-Japan duo worked over Nagata initially before he fired up and let Inoue in. Stiff strikes were exchanged between all four before Nagata got the Nagata Lock on Funaki. Inoue speared Kono and hit a beautiful Everest German for two at the six-minute mark, but Funaki pinned Inoue after a stiff head kick a minute later. Post-match, Funaki and Nagata had a pull apart brawl.
MVPArt_130GG_27.jpg

(5) MVP & Shelton Benjamin beat the Complete Players (IWGP Intercontinental champion Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takahashi w/Jado and Gedo) when MVP submitted Takahashi. Benjamin set up both heels for MVP to hit successive Ballin' elbows early. Tanaka took the faces to the floor, though, and landed a splash to the outside on MVP through a ringside table. After being isolated for a while, MVP landed on his feet from a hip toss and hit a DDT for the hot tag. Benjamin landed a flip dive to Jado and Gedo at ringside at eight minutes. The finish came when Benjamin hit Paydirt on Takahashi, allowing MVP to lock in his Irreversible Crisis submission.

(6) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan beat IWGP and GHC Tag Champions Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson) to win the IWGP Tag Championships. Kojima and Anderson started out, but the crowd wanted Tenzan, who came in to hit his signature Mongolian chops. The champions took over for a while before a countered suplex on Tenzan bought in Kojima, who hit rapid fire chops in the corner to both champions. Anderson responded with a running powerbomb at the eight-minute mark, before Bernard hit a running splash for two. A Koji cutter a minute later bought Tenzan back in. Bad Intentions got some very nearfalls on Tenzan, including from the Magic Killer neckbreaker and an assisted Bernard bomb for a very convincing nearfall. Tenzan eventually landed a moonsault on Bernard to win the belts and send the crowd into intermission happy.

(7) Hiroki Goto (NJPW) beat Takashi Suguira (NOAH). Goto worked a long headlock early before Sugiura took over and worked on the midsection. Goto hit a lariat and a German for two at the five-minute mark, but Sugiura answered with corner boots and a spear. An ugly German into the bottom turnbuckle followed by vicious forearms lead Goto to sell a concussion, but he kicked out of the follow-up knee and Dragon suplex. Goto came back at the nine-minute mark with the Go To Heaven slam and lariat for two before hitting a brainbuster into a sideslam for the pin. Very good match telling a strong story.

(8) Togi Makabe beat Yoshihiro Takayama. They fought to the outside early and Takayama took control with strikes and a running knee to Makabe in the tree of woe. Makabe fired back with a lariat at the five-minute mark, but Takayama answered with a side suplex and a leg drop for two. Takayama was looking for his Everest German, but Makabe hit one of his own for a nearfall before hitting a spider suplex and King Kong knee drop for the victory. Not bad, but it's clear Takayama is having trouble moving around.

(9) GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki & Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH) beat Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano (NJPW) when Shiozaki pinned Yano. The story early was Yano and Nakamura outsmarting the NOAH pair. Things soon spilled outside where Yano tried attacking Shiozaki with a pair of scissors before the NJPW tandem worked on Marufuji in ring. At the ten-minute mark, Yano held Marufuji on the top rope, allowing Nakamura to hit a pair of running knees, but a follow up Boma Ye knee attempt was blocked and countered with a sliced bread. The finishing sequence had Go Shiozaki with Toru Yano. Shiozaki withstood the Oni Koroshi kneeling powerbomb and a low blow before hitting the Go Flasher (brainbuster/elbow combination) to end an exciting match at around 15 minutes.

(10) Keiji Mutoh beat Tetsuya Naitou. Things started with evenly matched matwork before they moved to the floor six minutes in. Mutoh hit a Dragon Screw on the floor and a second over the guardrail before a third over the ropes as Naitou tried to re-enter. Mutoh locked in the Figure 4 at the nine-minute mark and continued to work the legs. Naitou eventually rallied to hit a running swanton and top rope huracanrana, but a Stardust press missed and Mutoh hit the Shining Wizard to reset the match at 15 minutes. Mutoh continued alternately working the leg and hitting Shining Wizards, but Naitou stayed in things. Mutoh finally hit the moonsault to a strong reaction at 21 minutes for the win.

Post-match, Mutoh offered his hand, but Naitou refused to shake. A good match, working in a lot of drama around Mutoh's physical limitations.

(11) IWGP Heavyweigt champion Hiroshi Tanahashi beat Minoru Suzuki to retain the IWGP Hvt. Title. The intro video stated that the IWGP Title has changed hands 56 times since its inception, which is about the same number of times the WWE Title changed hands last year. After an exchange of holds, the two found themselves in the ropes, Suzuki locking an octopus hold over the top rope before booting the champion outside. Suzuki wanted the Gotch piledriver on the ramp, but Tanahashi countered with a back drop. Suzuki met Tanahashi on the way back in with a triangle over the ropes to regain control. Suzuki persisted in working over Tanahashi, responding to a straightjacket German with his sleeper. At the 22-minute mark, Suzuki hit the Gotch driver for a very near fall, and Tanahashi responded with a frog splash for two. They traded bombs before Tanahashi hit the sling blade slam and a pair of frog splashes for the win at about 24 minutes.

It was an entertaining main event on a decent card, but one that lacked too many standout moments. New Japan is still in need of new stars to regenerate interest, as evidenced by the barely half-full Tokyo Dome.

[Torch art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch.com]


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