Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

AJPW BBanquet Special 8/1/04
2004 Summer Action Series ~Ryogoku Battle Banquet~
taped 7/18/04 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Kaz Hayashi vs. Katsushi Takemura 14:54. I was pleasantly surprised by this match. The chemistry was good, and they were able to play off each other much better than I expected. Takemura isn't the most exciting or dynamic wrestler, but he stepped it up, proving he belonged in a title match. They executed well, delivering a number of difficult sequences and counters, and mostly due to Hayashi, the match was even spectacular enough. CTU interfered on Takemura's behalf, but even though Goto was involved in the finish, they never got in the way and made it feel like the match was about them rather than Hayashi & Takemura. The only downside is selling was generally ignored because Hayashi kept pushing the pace. ***1/2

Keiji Muto vs. Osamu Nishimura 18:02. Nishimura is a very skilled wrestler who tends toward dullardry, while Muto is a very washed up physical wreck who tends toward stalling. You knew they had the skill to do something really good, but more than likely the matchup was going to feed into their worst habits. Muto followed Nishimura's lead in wrestling a squeaky clean, honor the rope break style, but insisted on dominating the early portion. I don't mind Muto being on offense, the problem is he just laid around refusing to feed Nishimura any counter opportunities. Without any transitioning or chain wrestling, they succeeded in getting as little out of the rarely thrilling offense as possible. The match picked up with Muto's requisite knee attack, which led to Nishimura attacking the knee with a variety of diving kneedrops after blocking Muto's shining wizard. Nishimura's knee attack had potential, but they were almost to the brief finishing sequence by the time he got something going. *1/2

Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi vs. Nobutaka Araya & Arashi 7:10. Fuchi's opening was rather uneventful and Arashi was thankfully kept on the apron. I expected Tenryu to give one of his half assed efforts because it was short, and anything with Arashi is hopeless, but Tenryu was at least into wrestling his old protege Araya. Tenryu was looking for an opening to take a cheap shot, but Araya saw him creeping across the apron, turning around and dropping him with a lariat. Tenryu got his chance when Araya went for a pin on Fuchi, giving him a wicked soccer kick and ending their ensuing skirmish with a nasty open hand. Though ultimately brief, the Tenryu vs. Araya segment delivered. It made the match worthwhile and the audience want more, only thing is the bout was so onesided there seemed no reason for a singles match between the two beyond allowing Tenryu to release some pent up anger. *3/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Satoshi Kojima 26:34. Kojima was excited to wrestle Misawa, and gave a major performance. His style fit well into what NOAH does these days, which perhaps wasn't for the better, but the match was something similar to Misawa wrestling a stiffer and actually highly motivated version of Akiyama. Aging Misawa has become Tenryu in that he can still have excellent matches, but he's totally reliant on the opposition to not only make the match by doing most of the work, but also to structure it. Tenryu was never that great at carrying a match in his prime, really only ever excelling at the veteran vs. hot youngster matches, but for Misawa this is a real shame because he could put together a far superior match to anything Kojima could come up with if he simply had any interest in doing so. As with most post 1997 Misawa big matches, this was a superbly wrestled one-dimensional spot oriented match. It was fun not only because it was a new match but because they came up with some spots that were different not simply for that reason such as Misawa countering Kojima's powerbomb on the floor with a Frankensteiner into the guard rail. The match didn't tell any story with Kojima selling his bad elbow when he did his stiff lariats, but Misawa still refusing to attack it. However, they were more than happy to replace thoughtful wrestling with as many big moves as they could pack into 26 minutes, pulling out such wild moves as the Koji cutter and Tiger driver off the apron. All these moves didn't lead to a match with any particular drama though, actually it began to get numbing to the point I didn't care when Kojima kicked out of the emerald flowsion. But despite the obvious limitations and flaws, I can't deny that they put the effort into making it a memorable interpromotional dream match. ****

Triple Crown Heavyweight Title Match: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Takao Omori 22:36. One of Kawada's miracles. Misawa has a great opponent, but didn't bother to get anything out of him, content to rely soley on the spectacular. Kawada only teased the spectacular, but worked his ass off to carry a mediocre opponent to a classic early 90's style AJ stiffness, selling, and intensity fight. Kawada seemed to have fun trying to do a match without compromising his story of playing cripple. Though Omori is never going to be a top choice for an opponent, there's something to be said for a guy who is smart enough to stay under control and sticks to the script, especially when the script is written by Kawada. Kawada sold his knee early to set up it becoming a problem and ease into Omori's knee attack rather than the typical relying on one big move to set it off. Kawada bruised Omori's cheek with one of his wicked kicks, but hurt his own knee trying to follow up with his kneedrop to the face. The ref tried to call for the doctor with Kawada sitting in the corner because he couldn't stand, but Omori fought through him and kept at the knee. Kawada did a great job of portraying the idea he could only stand for intervals. His first comeback consisted of collapsing after kenka kicks. Later, he would do a move and sell rather than chaining moves together. The story would have been better for a match he was going to lose, but Kawada making the match about his knee took a lot of the focus and pressure off Omori, which is always a good thing. ****1/4


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