Taped 11/23/07 and 12/9/07

It’s the 30th Anniversary of the Real World Tag League! Mutoh’s All Japan may be vastly different from Baba’s All Japan, but Mutoh is smart enough to know what (and whom) to toss aside and what (and whom) to keep around. The nWo said “Tradition Bites.” and I say “To hell with the nWo, Tradition Rules!”

Shuji Kondo . . . is now teaching the young spitfires of All Japan something about paying your dues in the business.

Joe Doering . . . appears to be the next in a long line of can’t miss prospects for future stars, thanks in part to his opponents.

Kensuke Sasaki . . . reminds me why I hate him so much when he drags down a fun match with his stupid no-selling.

The show starts with the opening night of the tag league on 11/23, starting with some undercard clips: Seiya Sanada defeats Ryuji Yamaguchi with a Dragon suplex in what looked like a fun little young boy match. The Mexican Amigos (Kaz Hayashi, TAKA Michinoku, and NOSAWA doing a Mexican gimmick) beat Hijikata, MAZADA, and T28. It looks like T28 will score the upset on Kaz, I mean, Miguel Hayashi with a roll up, but Hayashi kicks out and plants him with a Tombstone and the Final Cut to deny him the win.


There isn’t much of this shown, but what is shown is very fun. The first thing that’s established is that Soya won’t go down easy, Kondo charges him for the Lanzarse and Soya plants his weight and prevents Kondo from picking him up for it. Shuji switches tactics and goes after the leg, starting with a Dragon screw, and then going to the rookie killer in the crab hold. Soya still won’t stay down, so Kondo switches to the Gorilla clutch and grapevines the leg a la Kanemoto or Angle, and Soya has to give it up. I’d personally rather see Kondo still tearing things up in junior title matches, but I can live with watching him break in the young boys.


The VM have always been a bit over the top, but the entrance for ZODIAC is a bit too much, even for them. He’s tied to a cross, with a sack over his head with one eye hole (like Jason in Friday the 13th part 2), with a noose around his neck that TARU pulls him on like a leash. Again, there isn’t a whole lot shown, but what is shown is rather fun. YASSHI and TARU beat on Lion (who looks like a cross between Umaga and Guile from Street Fighter) for a bit (including a run in from Kondo to assist in TARU’s Axe kick) and he hot tags Kea who cleans house. Kea takes a cheap shot at ZODIAC who doesn’t even appear phased. Hirai tags in, and goes after TARU with a sort of Shining Wizard, but TARU tags in ZODIAC and takes off the sack to reveal a black mask with a sort of cover on his mouth, it’s hard to describe though. ZODIAC doesn’t waste anytime and quickly finishes off Hirai with a backdrop.


Now this is how to get a young guy over and make him look like a future star. Doering looks for all the world like the next gaijin ace for All Japan. It’s not just the fact that he beat SUWAMA, he’d already done that once, but it’s done in such a way that it not only looked like that Doering could do it again, but could do it until the end of time. The video before the match gives a little background: SUWAMA put a pretty good beating on Joe back on 10/18, but Joe sucked up and pulled off the win. And he impressed the right people in doing so, because look who he’s teamed up with for the tag league.

The big theme for the match is Joe more or less wrestling this like a handicap match. Mutoh is there to help him, at points, but more often than not, Joe is left to his own devices. The Joe/SUWAMA rivalry also takes center stage here, and Joe picks up right where he left off with his being able to beat SUWAMA. They start out exchanging tackles and SUWAMA finally drops Joe to the mat. SUWAMA challenges him to do something, and Joe knocks him on his ass with a single standing lariat. Joe takes over on offense for a little bit after that, but it’s not long because they both wind up tagging. Mutoh and Kojima only run through a few basic exchanges and some trademark stuff and then tag right back out. It’s not any different here though, Joe still has no problem at all controlling SUWAMA, and it’s not until Kojima bashes him with the chair on the floor, that the VM have any kind of decisive advantage.

The VM control segment is where the match tends to drag though, because they work over Doering with lots of punching, stomping, choking, and kicking. It makes sense given the overall character of the VM and SUWAMA’s feud with Doering, but it loses its novelty after a time and just gets boring. SUWAMA does work in a couple of nice suplexes and they plant Joe with a backdrop/3D comb. Mutoh isn’t anywhere to be found, Kojima hits a cheap shot lariat to him while he’s on the apron to keep him at bay. Joe winds up making his own comeback by ducking a Kojima lariat so that SUWAMA gets hit. Joe’s tag to Mutoh really can’t even be considered a ‘hot tag’ because Mutoh only gets in a couple of moves, before Kojima surprises him with a Dragon screw, and starts to work over his knee. Mutoh has to tag Joe back in, more out of necessity than anything else, even though he’s not fully recovered. The match breaks down from there, with Mutoh and Kojima going at it on the floor, while SUWAMA suplexes Joe a few times and goes for the Last Ride. Mutoh technically makes a save for Joe by chop blocking SUWAMA, but Joe was already trying to block the move before Mutoh came in. Mutoh wears down SUWAMA with a couple of Shining Wizards and Joe gets a couple of near falls on SUWAMA with a sit out powerbomb and then a Doctor Bomb. Mutoh hits one list Shining Wizard and Joe hits SUWAMA with the Spiral Bomb for the win.

The only thing that really hurts this match is that, for all their efforts to make Joe look great, the match itself suffers from a noticeable lack of interesting offense. Kojima and SUWAMA could have been eons more interesting while working over Joe, and Joe didn’t really seem to get warmed up until almost the very end when he started trying to finish off SUWAMA. It’s not entirely Joe’s fault, he was the least experienced wrestler in the match, and hadn’t worked very much with Mutoh or Kojima at all. One can only hope that this is a sign of Doering sticking around and hopefully getting a lot better.

The match is followed by a giant clip job of the rest of the tournament. Just watching the clips gives a good idea of how each team ranks. Nobutaka Araya moonsaults several guys, but never once do he and Owashi win. TARU and ZODIAC constantly get disqualified, except for when Sasaki and Kawada beat them. In a major surprise, Suzuki and Abdullah beat Sasaki and Kawada when Suzuki chokes out Kawada. Mutoh and Doering only appear to drop one fall, losing to Sasaki and Kawada, when Mutoh gets pinned. Mutoh and Doering win the league portion with 11 points, but there’s a tie for second place, so it’s time for a playoff.


If it wasn’t for Sasaki constantly doing stupid no-selling, then this might have been okay, it’d have still been marred by overbooking, but it might have had some redeemable value to it. Considering that the VM are facing off against the one of the top guys in All Japan for the last fifteen years and the current Triple Crown Champion, obviously Kawada/Kensuke had to look good, but there are times when they look good at the expense of the match. They start off with a bang with all of the VM attacking Sasaki and Kawada from behind on their way to the ring. It puts them at a disadvantage to start and gives Kojima and SUWAMA a chance to look good. After working him over a few minutes, Sasaki starts Hulking Up and starting a comeback. Kojima thankfully puts the kibosh on that and a minute or so later Kawada tags in, is all fired up, and commences to kicking the hell out of the heels.

As fun as it is to watch Kawada hand back some of the punishment to SUWAMA and Kojima, it’s even more fun when Kawada lets SUWAMA take over, and throw him down with a couple of nice suplexes. It’s sometimes easy to forget that before SUWAMA joined the VM, when he was just plain old Kohei Suwama, that he was nicknamed “Mr. Suplex” and that he was a very decorated amateur wrestler. Despite his best efforts, SUWAMA doesn’t have it in him to keep down Kawada, and Kojima isn’t any more successful, so soon enough Kawada and Sasaki are back in firm control. Things start coming apart when Kawada and Sasaki lock in their trademark submissions (Stretch Plum and Stranglehold Gamma) simultaneously. TARU takes out the ref and the other VM members run in and attack. It’s not bad by itself, Kojima and SUWAMA had already had their chance to have control and came up short. So this could have been a nice way to give them a second chance at it. But instead of taking the match someplace with it, it’s done just for heat and doesn’t accomplish anything that might make the VM team look good.

This is also where Kensuke’s no-selling gets bad. He takes a Dragon Gate style corner spot from the VM and then proceeds to take a Kojima lariat, kick out at one, and jump up like he’s fine. Kensuke charges for his own lariat and Kojima blocks it by hitting the arm, Sasaki completely blows that off and charges for another lariat, only to get hit in the back with a big plastic jug (maybe a gasoline can) by SUWAMA. Only after that can Kojima hit another lariat that keeps Kensuke down (with Kojima hooking the leg looking like Kensuke is really fighting to kick out). With all the shenanigans from the VM and with how effective Kojima and SUWAMA looked against Sasaki, I’ll be shocked if they get any heat at all for the finals.

Conclusion: Both of the Tag League matches had good intentions, but wound up being dragged down by other factors. The best bet is probably to download the Mutoh/Doering tag match since nothing else is worth going out of your way to check out (unless you’re a big completest).