Recap from Ryan Clingman:
This wasn’t your standard All Japan heavyweight fare. It wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination an athletic contest between two athletes, but it was instead a war between two grizzled veterans. Muta and Takayama engaged in far more of a violent brawl than a technical masterpiece; there were direct chair shots to the head and there was blood. However, this was still a match that pushed Takayama into the record books as one of only two men to become a true Triple Crown champion in Japan.
While it may be true that the match wasn’t a technical masterpiece, it was still a good match (in probably the same mould as KENTA/Takayama from last year). It was very stiff, but with its stiffness came a sense of realism. Takayama, who in 2009 was already quite decrepit and broken down, was able to put on a main event performance, and in all honesty he was able to perform at a decent level on and off, in a top position, up until around last year sometime.
Knowing what we know today about concussions and direct chair shots to the head, the ones in this match did leave me cringing at points, especially when Takayama cracked Muta with a huge direct and unprotected chair shot to the top of the head.
Both men bladed and Muta actually removed his mask, mid-match, to reveal a bloody mess after one of the brutal chair shots that he suffered at the hands of Takayama. I was fine with the blood, as it added to the match and it is something that doesn’t really harm anyone to a great extent, but direct chair shots are something far different.
The finish came when Muta attempted a gogoplata, but Takayama countered it and sprayed mist into in the eyes of Muta. This led to Takayama landing a German suplex for the win in a very well thought out and well executed finish.
As a whole, the match wasn’t the best All Japan Triple Crown match of the year for 2009, but it still was enjoyable. It was short for Triple Crown standards, but as Funaki and Akiyama demonstrated recently, when it is the correct time and place All Japan will pull out a quick finish.
This match put Takayama into a class that previously consisted of one man, as only he and Kensuke Sasaki have ever won the GHC Heavyweight, All Japan Triple Crown and IWGP Heavyweight titles.
I do recommend the match, although one or two brutal headshots will probably turn a few people off. However, it was well set out and I personally was a very big fan of the finishing sequence. If you are looking for something different out of a Triple Crown match, go straight ahead, however if you are squeamish when it comes to double juice, and are distressed by unprotected chair shots – I would think about skipping this match.
Recap from TJ Hawke:
This match was for Muta’s AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. Muta spat some mist in the air once the bell rang, but Takayama immediately took control of the match. They ended up in the floor, and Muta was able to use the barricade and an unprotected chair shot to the head to get the advantage back. Muta choked him with a piece of camera cable. Back in the ring, Muta locked in a STF. Takayama mad ethe ropes, but we then saw that he got busted open. Muta locked in a Figure Four leglock. Takayama struggled, but he managed to make the ropes. Takayama came back with a Yakuza kick. Muta went and got another chair, but Takayama just booted him in the face. Takayama then gave him and unprotected chair shot to the head. Muta got busted open as well. Takayama then choked home with some rope. Takayama brought him back to the ring and tried to open up the head wound some more. Takayama hit a butterfly suplex and then locked in a cross armbreaker. Muta managed to spray the mist into Takayama’s face to break the hold. Muta followed that with a trio of Shining Wizards: 1…2…NO! Muta then hit a moonsault: 1…2…NO! Takayama came back with a series of running strikes. Takayama blocked another mist attempt and hit a bridging German suplex: 1…2…3! New champ!
A cynical man would say these two took a lot of short cuts to get through this match. Even though these two are getting up there in the age department, I’ve seen each of these men put in some solid efforts over the last couple of years (Takayama’s match with KENTA immediately comes to mind). However, this match did not grip me much, and the crowd didn’t seem too invested. Their only big reaction was to the actual title change. You can definitely skip this match and not feel too bad.
Match Rating: ***