AJPW Summer Action Series 2002: Day 9 (7/17/2002)- Osaka, Japan
KAZUSHI MIYAMOTO & MASANOBU FUCHI vs. HIDEKI HOSAKA & SHIGEO OKUMURA- 5/10
A fine opener.
GEORGE HINES, JIMMY YANG, & KAZ HAYASHI vs. GRAN NANIWA, JOHNNY SMITH, & RYUJI HIJIKATA- 6.75/10
NOBUKAZU HIRAI, NOBUTAKU ARAYA, & ARASHI vs. YUTO AIJIMA & VARSITY CLUB (Mike Rotundo & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams)- 6/10
This was shockingly good, considering the age and physical condition of some of those involved and the fact that they only went seven minutes.
AJPW WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Kendo Kashin(c) vs. Gran Hamada (w/Masanobu Fuchi & Kazushi Miyamoto)- 4.25/10
Speaking of the age of certain competitors, Gran Hamada was fifty-one years old at this point. After commissioner Stan Hansen read the official proclamation for the match, Kashin tried to give Hansen some other belt to hold up, which Hansen responded to by tossing it out of the ring like a piece of trash. That got a big gasp from the crowd.
The old man proceeded to kick Kendo Kashin’s ass for a while, with Kashin only taking over after a low blow… which happened right in front of the referee, with no DQ. Kashin then put Hamada in an armbar using the ropes for what felt like a full minutes but there was still no DQ. Kashin finally lets the choke go to get in Funaki’s face on the outside, and the moment he let go, Hamada just stopped selling, and soon did a big pescado onto Kashin.
After that point the match was actually pretty good (aside from Kashin doing that stupid “if I stop the ref’s arm from hitting the mat then he can’t officially count to three for the pin” spot), with good false finishes and some very crisp high-flying stuff, but the earlier stupidity definitely dragged it down. Another disappointing match from Dragon Soldier B.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Yang & Hayashi came out while Miyamoto cut a promo on Kashin. I don’t speak Japanese so I don’t know what he said, but assume he was challenging him to a title match. An agreement seemed to have been reached and they shook hands, but then Kashin sucker-punched Miyamoto, starting a brawl that ended in Kashin being sent scurrying while Miyamoto cut another promo on him.
ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER & YOJI ANJO vs. MIL MASCARAS & DOS CARAS- 3.5/10
The combined age of the men in this match was over 204 years old. Despite that fact, this actually managed to not suck, and especially when they kept it in the ring instead of doing pointless crowd brawling and illegal hitting each other with things. They did a bunch of very simple things (not necessarily all basic, but simple) and used some simple psychology and had probably the best match you could have expected. Mil Mascaras got the pin (try not to be too shocked), pinning Yoji Anjo (again, try not to be too shocked). After the match, Anjo and Abby started fighting so that Anjo could hit Abby with something, because G-d forbid Abby go out to the ring and someone not be bleeding by the time he goes to the back. Abby won the brawl, then led the crowd in chants of “BUTCHER!”
MISTUYA NAGAI & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. MIKE BARTON & JIM STEELE- 5.25/10
Nagai looked great. The match was exciting, and insanely good for a match that went just shy of six minutes, but was unfortunately marred by Honma’s shoulder very clearly coming up during the finish. It was also marred by an insane decision to cut away from the ring to the two guys brawling outside of it DURING A PINFALL ATTEMPT.
AJPW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Keiji Mutoh & Taiyo Kea(c) vs. KroniK- 6.75/10
KroniK won the belts, and also did not embarrass themselves, so that’s two big wins for KroniK. Muta looked pretty darn good.
TRIPLE CROWN TITLE MATCH: Genichiro Tenryu(c) vs. Satoshi Kojima- 8.75/10
This was a heck of a world title fight. Not a wrestling match; a fight. These two did not like each other so spent almost the entire match chopping each other, punching each other, trying to knock the other guy’s head off, or dropping the other guy on his head. There was a segment of the match where Kojima worked over Tenryu’s legs, but they mostly forgot about that. There was a little too much “one of us hits a big move and then we both go down and sell for a long time” in a row for my tastes, and I was not a fan of Kojima getting right back up after taking that brainbuster (it was about the sixth he’d taken, and wouldn’t be the last, either), but other than that, this was a pretty brutal fight for the world title, with an extremely hot crowd cheering on.
This was a decent show from All Japan. Most of the undercard matches were short so they didn’t really get time to be anything special, but they all mostly delivered for the time they got, and the main event definitely lived up to the billing, if not quite living up to its legendary reputation. This is definitely worth a look if you want to watch some random 2000s All Japan, but it’s not anything you need to go out of your way to see, either.
NJPW, PROGRESS, RevPro, CMLL, etc
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