Toukan Festival: Wrestling World 2005
Held in the Tokyo Dome in the Kanto region in front of 28,686 people and shown LIVE on Sky PerfectTV!
Before the opening contest of the night, a hype video is shown of the show's main event - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship. The video promotes both as perhaps the future of New Japan Pro-Wrestling and suggests that tonight is a glimpse of future Tokyo Dome main events to come.
|El Samurai, Kendo Kashin & Mitsuya Nagai vs. Dick Togo, James Gibson & Tomohiro Ishii
15-minute time limit
From the opening bell, the heel team of Togo, Gibson and Ishii immediately pounced on their opponents and wouldn’t let up. Isolating Nagai from his teammates, the match essentially boiled down to a three-on-two matchup, with the numbers game playing into the heels’ favor. The masked veterans El Samurai and Kashin would each put up valiant efforts throughout the bout to bring the match to their favor and assist their ailing teammate, however, both would be sent over the top rope by Gibson and Ishii, allowing Togo to pin Nagai following a double underhook facebuster.
WINNERS: Dick Togo, James Gibson and Tomohiro Ishii by pinfall in 7:47.
|'#1 Contendership to the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title'
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto
20-minute time limit
A battle between two of the greatest IWGP Junior Heavyweight champions of all-time, a lengthy staredown kicked off this 20-minute bout. 11-time champ Liger went to extend a hand to four-time champion Kanemoto but faked his unmasked opponent out, running his hand over the top of his mask instead. The early portion of the bout featured an overconfident Liger, who took his time to play to the crowd and taunt his frequently downed opponent.
Kanemoto took offense to his opponent's nonchalant attitude towards their match and immediately pounced on Liger, softening him up with stiff blow after stiff blow. Several near-falls took place during the mid-portion of the match with Kanemoto landing two successive vertical suplex powerslams. Perhaps with a bit of frustration, Kanemoto went up top for a high-risk moonsault which Liger rolled out of the way of. Liger continued with some offense of his own before leading to both trading blows in the center of the ring in an exchange that ended with a quick rake to the eye by Kanemoto.
Slipping out of a bridging tiger suplex attempt, Liger rolled through for a near fall. Once he rose, it was clear that the relaxed attitude from Liger was gone as he immediately went back to work on Kanemoto. Kanemoto fights back several times until a surprise palm thrust by Liger sets up a perfectly executed Ligerbomb. Red Shoes drops down and slaps the canvas twice before Kanemoto throws up a shoulder at the very last second! Liger incredulously (well, imagine it anyways) looks at Red Shoes before slapping the mat himself in frustration. Liger then picks up his opponent, who fights back once more with some more strikes until Liger repeats his previous attempt at a finishing sequence. This time, however, Liger ascends to the top rope and nails a frogsplash before successfully pinning Kanemoto for the #1 contendership.
WINNER: Jushin Thunder Liger by pinfall in 14:21.
|'IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title'
Minoru Tanaka (C) vs. Tiger Mask IV
20-minute time limit
Two different strategies were on display from each wrestler at the beginning of this one as Tanaka wished to kick the match off with a slow, methodical pace with various grappling maneuvers; Tiger Mask, on the other hand, got started with a flurry of quick strikes trying to get Tanaka off his feet. An attempt at a running forearm strike by Tiger Mask was side-stepped by the reigning Junior Heavyweight champion as he was then thrown over the top rope and to the outside.
A rebound off the ropes led to a perfectly-executed plancha onto the stunned challenger on the outside, which led to a brief striking battle on the outside. Once the match returned to the ring, Tanaka immediately went to work with a varying sequence of suplexes. The resilient challenger managed to block what would've been the fourth suplex in a row - dropping Tanaka face first into the turnbuckle with a drop toe hold. Once the champion rose to his feet, a dropkick from Tiger Mask to Tanaka's back followed up by a schoolboy led to the first near fall of the match.
Each competitor fought for the advantage once both of them got to their feet, leading to Tiger Mask eventually throwing Tanaka through the ropes to the outside. This time, it was Tanaka who was on the received end of some inside-to-outside offense as Tiger Mask performed a baseball slide to the outside and to the face of the kneeling champion. Tiger Mask then took to the apron to execute a running knee strike to the champion but was met with a spectacular mid-air dropkick for his efforts.
After the action returned to the ring, Tanaka continued to wear down the torso of the masked hero, bringing the pace down a bit. Each time the challenger appeared to be about to slip out of a hold, Tanaka would wrangle him back under control. This would continue on for a bit until Tiger Mask would get hold of a rope, forcing Tanaka to break the hold. Bit of jawing between the ref and the champion provided Tiger Mask with enough time to get to the outside of the ropes and launch himself over the ref and onto Tanaka with an outstanding flying body press and into a pin that results in an extremely close near pinfall.
Seeing an opportunity open up, Tiger Mask ascended to the top turnbuckle and briefly soaked in the roars from the crowd as he leapt for a Diving Headbutt... but Tanaka gets up a knee in time, clocking his opponent right in the temple! From here, Tanaka sprang up and made his way up to the top rope for what was surely to be a 450 Splash attempt. However, as he launched off, he merely leapt off with no rotation and stopped short of Tiger Mask - who sat up to dodge a 450 attempt. A swift and vicious kick to the head downed the surprised Tiger Mask as Tanaka immediately locked in a Minoru Special. The dazed Tiger Mask had no choice but to tap out after a short struggle in the hold.
WINNER: Minoru Tanaka by submission in 16:55.
Minoru Tanaka retains the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. (Defense #12)
In his post-match press conference, Tanaka states that he's not too concerned about having Jushin Thunder Liger lined up as his next opponent. Tanaka runs over the fact that he is the most dominant IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion in history with his record-expanding 12th title defense. With that statistic in mind, Tanaka asks the Japanese press in attendance why should he be concerned with Liger, even if he is an 11-time Junior Heavyweight champion?
|Minoru Suzuki vs. Takashi Iizuka
30-minute time limit
A brawl from the get-go with both trading strikes with one another, the action quickly broke when Suzuki slipped out of an early sleeper attempt by his opponent. An unnerving smirk from Suzuki didn't rattle Iizuka at all as the two went right back at it with a battle of 'who can hit the bejeezus out of the other one harder?' A backhand chop battle ended once Suzuki dodged an attempt by Iizuka and then planted him with a dropkick.
From here, the advantage went to Suzuki as he worked his opponent over with a variety of submission holds designed to cut off his opponent's air flow. Iizuka did a good job of managing to fully prevent Suzuki from being able to lock in a sleeper of his own - navigating around to eventually drop Suzuki with a side suplex. The back and forth nature of the match continued onto their feet as Iizuka backed Suzuki into a corner and proceeded to bite him, a move that was followed by a quick shove from Suzuki and a swift open-handed slap to Iizuka.
Again, no one could get a clear advantage from here as the bouts of offense from each would only last about a minute at a time. Suzuki did manage to kick out of a surprise exploder suplex pin attempt and would then slide out of the ring to regain energy for a counter-attack. Iizuka followed out to ringside to chase Suzuki around the ring and would be caught himself by a surprise dropkick that sent him flying into the steel guardrail surrounding the ring.
Once both returned to the ring, Suzuki would fight to lock in a sleeper on his fellow master of the hold and would ultimately get it secured in. Fighting around while flailing his arms around for the rope, Iizuka managed to grab the back of Suzuki's head and stun him with a jawbreaker, snapmaring him over into a sleeper of his own. Suzuki miraculously would recover back to his feet and would manage to trip up Iizuka, stunning him long enough to once again lock in a sleeper of his own. This time, there would be no escape for Iizuka as the referee would end up calling for the bell.
WINNER: Minoru Suzuki by submission in 12:56.
|Satoshi Kojima vs. Osamu Nishimura
30-minute time limit
Standard start to this match: lockup, takedown, break, stand-off, lockup, takedown, break, stand-off. Bit of a struggle for control in the beginning until Kojima managed to take over. Flooring Nishimura with a clothesline, the fight then proceeded to the ground where the pace cooled off for several minutes. Nishimura managed to fight back to a standing base and then hit a quick knee to the jaw before rebounding off the ropes with a running forearm.
Nishimura then controlled the match for the next couple minutes, repeating what Kojima did by bringing the match's pace back down. In a repeat of the reversal from before, Kojima fought his way back up but some kicks to the back of the knee from Nishimura re-grounded him. The pace was brought back up once Kojima fought his way to his feet again and then was met with an enzuigiri after fighting back with some strikes of his own.
A clothesline attempt by Nishimura found itself dodged by Kojima who rebounded with a stiff running elbow to the face. Kojima then went for a quick cutter attempt that was broken up by Nishimura, however, Kojima then immediately caught the defender off guard with another cutter, dropping him to the mat with the following pin attempt resulting in a near fall.
After regaining some more energy (and his composure), Kojima ascended to the top rope but was caught and thrown to the mat by Nishimura, who quickly went to the top himself and hit a moonsault for a near fall of his own. Spotting an opportunity to finish the match at around the 15-minute mark, Nishimura hit a quick cutter on Kojima, utilizing his opponent's finisher against him for what turned out to be another near-fall. Nishimura then picked up a Kojima and signalled for a finisher of his own and proceeded to hoist him up for a Northern Lights Suplex; the attempt was blocked by Kojima who then hit a Koji Lariat. Instead of immediately going for the pin, Kojima was determined to punish his opponent for stealing his finish by picking him up and planting him with a second Koji Lariat. 1, 2, 3, the match was Kojima's.
WINNER: Satoshi Kojima by pinfall in 16:44.
|'Future Title Shot for the IWGP Heavyweight Title'
Scott Norton vs. Manabu Nakanishi
30-minute time limit
The two competitors featured in this bout went right at with heavy blow after heavy blow traded between the two behemoths. Given what was on the line, any level of intensity less than what was already displayed would be a disappointment. Nakanishi's hunger for a shot at his potential first reign as the IWGP Heavyweight champ was visible early on as he grabbed the early advantage and downed Norton with several heavy, clubbing blows.
Norton powered through some more stiff offense to return the favor of some stiff strikes of his own. Nakanishi appeared to almost absorb the impact of some of Norton's strikes as he then grabbed the back of the gaijin's head and deliver a vicious knee strike to his chin. Nakanishi proceeds to pick up Norton and gets him in position for a Hercules Cutter, but a quick elbow to the back of the head allows Norton to slip out and surprise Nakanishi with a release german suplex.
As both wrestlers stir, another trading of strikes occurs with both exchanging backhand chop after backhand chop. Nakanishi breaks the exchange with a knee to the stomach, sending Norton reeling towards the ropes. Rebounding off the opposite side of the ring, Nakanishi then clotheslined his opponent to the outside; with the momentum carrying him out as well.
From there, the fight continued on the floor as the two fought their way around the entire ring. Norton went back on offense shortly after bouncing Nakanishi's head off of a ring post, dropping him with a strong lariat on the floor and then rolling back into the ring to catch his breath. Red Shoes counts to 16 until Nakanishi finally rolls in to the ring to be met with a lariat attempt that Nakanishi just dodges. Off the rebound, Nakanishi manages to quickly get Norton up on his shoulders and drops him with a Hercules Cutter! 1...2...NO!!
Nakanishi, feeling confident of a potential victory coming his way, starts berating a slowly rising Norton, accompanying his verbal abuse with several slaps to the back of the head. Nakanishi then picks up the dazed Norton for a second Hercules Cutter, but Norton slips loose, pushes Nakanishi away, and floors him with a lariat! 1...2...Nakanishi just gets the shoulder up!
Norton signals to the 28,000+ in attendance that the end is near as he picks his opponent up for a Powerslam attempt, but Nakanishi slips out and desperately goes for what should be one final Hercules Cutter. Nakanishi's desperation leads to sloppiness, however, as Norton breaks loose yet again and grabs an arm to plant Nakanishi's head into the mat with a single-arm DDT. 1...2...3!
WINNER: Scott Norton by pinfall in 16:23.
Prior to the night's co-main event, a video package is shown of the upcoming bout for the IWGP Heavyweight title. Highlights from Tenzan, Choshu and Chono's combined seven reigns are shown with the conclusion of the video being a three-way 'tale of the tape' graphic of the three grapplers.
'IWGP Heavyweight Championship'
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (C) vs. Riki Choshu vs. Masahiro Chono
60-minute time limit
The three competitors each stare each other down, but Tenzan and Chono immediately break towards Choshu and start beating down on the veteran. After a minute or so of knocking Choshu around the ring, both men dump over the top ropes before immediately throwing their attention towards each other with Chono taking the advantage.
Wearing down the champion through a variety of chops and several standing holds, Tenzan eventually fights back with several headbutts thrown Chono's way as he goes on offense. Choshu, biding his time on the outside, re-enters the ring and assists on the beatdown on Chono, helping by dropping Chono with a neckbreaker. Sensing an opening given his strategy of targeting the 53-year-old earlier, Tenzan goes back to beating down on Choshu and goes for a quick Tenzan Tombstone Driver attempt, but Choshu successfully blocks it, delivers a headbutt and then proceeds to throw Tenzan through the ropes.
The struggle provided Chono with another opportunity to pounce as he then clobbered Choshu with a running double axe handle from behind to go back on the attack. Couple strong grounded holds on the veteran provide Chono with enough confidence to get up and attempt a FTS, but Tenzan recovers from the outside in time to deliver a boot to the back of Chono's head and break the hold.
The fight moves back to being Tenzan vs. Chono as the two find themselves trading standing blows amongst each other. A quick rake to the eyes of the champion moves the fight back to Chono's favor as he drops the champ with a back suplex and then follows with a Shining Yakuza attempt... but Choshu manages to get back in the ring in time and intercepts Chono with a brutal Lariat! Choshu goes for the cover on Tenzan! Can he steal it!? 1...2...No!
As Chono recovers in the corner, Choshu picks up Tenzan and goes for a Lariat on the champion and it connects! 1...2...Tenzan just manages to get a shoulder up! Choshu immediately goes back for another pin which results in another near fall. Rising to his knees, Choshu's face shows a mix of frustration and surprise as he then gets up to turn around and walk right into a Yakuza Kick from Chono! Cover on Choshu, 1...2...Choshu miraculously kicks out!
With his attempt at the finish, Chono slumps over from exhaustion in the center of the ring with his two competitors each remaining downed as well. Tenzan is the first to stir as he gets up and drags Choshu back to his feet, alternating mongolian chops and backhand chops to the veteran before standing him up for a TTD attempt. As he goes to hoist Choshu up, he just dodges out of the way of a charging Chono, who misses Tenzan with a Yakuza Kick and blasts Choshu with it instead.
Chono's momentum carries him straight to the corner turnbuckle, causing him to bounce off to Tenzan's grasp, who throws the reeling challenger through the ropes to the outside. Tenzan then immediately picks up Choshu and drops him with a Tenzan Tombstone Piledriver. 1...2...3, Tenzan makes his first title defense.
WINNER: Hiroyoshi Tenzan by pinfall in 18:12.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan retains the IWGP Heavyweight title. (Defense #1)
|'IWGP Under-30 Openweight Championship'
Hiroshi Tanahashi (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
60-minute time limit
The two tag-team partners shake hands following the ring of the opening bell as they each circle around each other. Following the opening lockup, both engage in a back-and-forth grappling bout in the early handful of minutes with neither man getting an advantage. The first man to get any sort of decent advantage, however, is Tanahashi as he hits a surprise dropkick on a rebounding Nakamura to go on offense.
Interesting strategy was at play in the early goings in this one as Tanahashi applied various submission holds to wear his tag partner's energy out. Given that he and Nakamura were slated to have a IWGP Tag Team title defense scheduled at February's big show, Tanahashi likely wouldn't be looking to cause significant damage to one of his partner's limbs.
Nakamura would eventually power his way back to his feet by throwing several elbows to back Tanahashi off of him. Once he got sufficient space between himself and the U-30 champion, Nakamura rebounded off the ropes and dropped him with a flying forearm. The challenger didn't seem to subscribe to the same strategy that Tanahashi had been sticking to, as, once on the ground, Nakamura targeted his tag partner's legs with strikes and submissions.
Reaching the ropes after being trapped in a modified STF, Tanahashi slides to the outside to take a lap around the ring with his face showing clear discomfort. Nakamura chooses not to pursue as Tanahashi eventually rolls back into the ring at a 12-count. Quick lock up and Tanahashi again goes on the offense as he pulls Nakamura in towards his body with an aggressive headlock.
From here, the champion's demeanor has clearly changed as he now aggressively targets Nakamura's neck. After a minute of wearing him Nakamura down, Tanahashi drills him to the mat with a dragon screw legwhip and then locks in a figure-four. Nakamura scrambles for the ropes and eventually gets to them after roughly one full minute of torture. Once on his feet, Tanahashi stomps repeatedly on Nakamura's legs as he then drops a knee on his knee and then on his head.
Dazed, Nakamura can't offer much defense as Tanahashi brings him back to his feet and floors him once again with a german suplex. Back to working the legs, Tanahashi drags Nakamura to the center of the ring and manages to lock in a loose Texas Cloverleaf which Nakamura manages to scramble out of after just a few seconds. This time, Nakamura takes to the outside area to recuperate, sliding back in just prior to the 20-count.
The challenger slides back into the ring as he fends off a series of quick strikes from the champion before shoving him away and hitting him with a quick lariat that drops both to the mat. Nakamura stirs first as he locks a grounded sleeper onto Tanahashi in a bit of a desperate attempt at a submission. Tanahashi eventually powers out of it and goes for a back suplex, but Nakamura lands on his feet and hits another lariat to the back of Tanahashi's head.
Nakamura runs to the opposite corner and gets into a pouncing position, waiting for Tanahashi to stand. Once his opponent does get to his feet, Nakamura charges for a running knee, but Tanahashi himself runs across the ring to hit a shock running forearm. Leaping to the top of the turnbuckle, Tanahashi leaps off for a High Fly Flow and Nakamura dodges! With his opponent reeling, Nakamura crawls over to lock in a Cross Armbar! Struggling on the ground for over a minute, Tanahashi once again manages to get to the ropes, forcing Red Shoes to intervene and break the hold, much to the dismay of Nakamura.
Seated dropkick to the rising Tanahashi prompts Nakamura to wait in the corner again, where he then pounced once more for a running knee, but Tanahashi again miraculously dodges! Nakamura hits the turnbuckle chest first, allowing Tanahashi to roll him up for a near fall. From here, it was Tanahashi's opportunity to try to finish the match off with a submission as he locks in a tight Texas Cloverleaf on Nakamura.
Nakamura tries to scramble about for a rope break and eventually rolls through to attempt to break the hold, but Tanahashi keeps it locked in! After a struggle on the ground, Nakamura gets one leg free and boots his tag partner in the face, then getting up and retreating to a corner to recover. Tanahashi then gets up and charges at Nakamura but Nakamura sits him down with his running knee!
Dragging Tanahashi to his feet, Nakamura positions himself on the second rope and pulls Tanahashi across his shoulders. Tanahashi struggles to break free but Nakamura launches off and connects with a samoan drop! Nakamura immediately locks in another cross armbar and after a minute of trying to break free, Tanahashi has no choice but to tap out in the center of the ring!
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura by submission in 26:37.
Shinsuke Nakamura becomes the 2nd IWGP U-30 Openweight Champion. (1st reign)
Following their absolute brawl of a match, Nakamura walks to and faces a corner admiring his newly-acquired U-30 Openweight championship. Tanahashi soon gets back to his feet while grimacing and clutching his arm. Nakamura then turns around and, hesitatingly, makes his way to the center of the ring to meet Tanahashi. Nakamura then extends a handshake towards his tag partner - an offer that Tanahashi takes several seconds to consider before accepting. Tanahashi then raises the hand of the new champion in a move that gets the Tokyo Dome crowd going.
Nakamura then proceeds to climb each turnbuckle and pose to the 28,000+ in attendance with the belt being held above his head. As Tanahashi moves to exit the ring, he stops short of making his way out, turns, and shoots an emotionless stare at the celebrating Nakamura. Tanahashi then exits the ring, grabs his IWGP Tag Team belt, and makes his way back up the entrance ramp.
Nakamura then grabs a microphone and thanks the audience for coming out to this year's Tokyo Dome show. He vows to defend the U-30 Openweight championship with honor and dignity as Tanahashi had. Nakamura also thanks Tanahashi for pushing him to the limits in their main event contest.
Running in contrast to his dignity comment though, Nakamura claims that he's the future of New Japan Pro-Wrestling and that tonight is a glimpse of the future of the company. Nakamura thanks the fans one more time as he drops the microphone as gold and yellow confetti and streamers fill the ring.
SHOW RATING: 79
PPV BUYS: 337,450 buys (0.67 rating)
The Wrestling Observer
Article by Dave Meltzer
New Japan Officials Miffed with Wrestling World Results
Word out of late-Thursday night has been that officials with New Japan Pro-Wrestling were conflicted with the results of the promotion's annual January 4th Tokyo Dome show. Despite being a solid four-star show overall, the performances of the two main events have been a source of confliction amongst different factions of the promotion's booking committee.
The committee assumed they could get a bit more out of the night's headlining bout of Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship. Both men are extremely talented performers, but weren't quite able to live up to the performance Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Riki Choshu and Masahiro Chono put in in the night's co-main event for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
With that, some officials have argued that pushing the youngsters such as Tanahashi and Nakamura as main event stars may not be the ideal course of action; instead, focusing on the established veterans of Tenzan, Chono and the like would be the better bet.
Granted, in terms of financial success, the company must be pleased with the revenue generated from PPV sales. But, the number of attendees came as a bit of disappointment, with the reported audience figure of 28,686 being the lowest ever for the annual Tokyo Dome show. Again, the reasoning for that figure has been subject to backstage debate, with some pinning it on the perceived lack of draw both Tanahashi and Nakamura had and with some pinning it on the general lack of interest in Japanese pro-wrestling at the moment.