Looking Back Puroresu Reviews WWW 2002

NJPW Wrestling World Review (January 4, 2002)

4.5/10

NJPW Wrestling World on January 4, 2002

Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

I review matches by listing notes along with pros and cons. I then provide a verdict, talking the match as a whole. I also tell you whether it’s not worth watching, worth watching if you may like it, or outright worth checking out. This way you’ll get multiple perspectives on a match.


This review is apart of the #WWW2002 project. For more details, head to our announcement post

You can find all our content related to this deep dive at wrestlingwithwords.com/www2002.


Masahito Kakihara & Masayuki Naruse vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Wataru Inoueyou may enjoy it

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • Shibata stood out from the jump, par for the course.
  • Shibata and Inoue make for a great pair.
  • The match kept a high tempo with lots of loose striking and stiffness.
  • Everyone blended well together to make this a fun breezy match.
  • This felt like a young lion match scaled up x5 for the Tokyo Dome.
  • There wasn’t a weak link.
  • Not a lot of teamwork except for Shibata and Inoue’s amazing forearm/German suplex combo and a Whisper in the Wind kind of move. Yes, with Shibata as Jeff Hardy.
  • Kakihara felt out of place for a bit but blended in better towards the end.

Kakihara choked out Inoue for the submission victory.

Verdict: This was a good opening match for the show. It’s one of the better matches of the night, with 10 minutes of Shibata and Inoue tearing it up with two folk that can hang. If you like Shibata’s style (and want to see 2002 Shibata), with the formula pressed into a young lion-ish tag opener with the tempo turned up, then you’ll like this as a lookback.

El Samurai & Minoru Tanaka vs. TEAM2000 (AKIRA & Koji Kanemoto)you may enjoy it

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • The only takeaway from this match is that Koji Kanemoto is a helluva professional wrestler that I should have watched more of until now.
  • TEAM2000 didn’t do much as a team, especially when Koji overshadowed AKIRA and everyone.
  • It was a neat dynamic though with AKIRA taking orders from the boss to dive on someone or to be blatantly not as important.
  • Tanaka was a good face in peril, but it could have lasted longer.
  • The Tanaka and Koji interactions were splendid.
  • All four brought the match home well with good near falls and action.

Tanaka executed a landslide roll-up on AKIRA for the pinfall victory.

Verdict: This followed up the very good opener well, especially because Koji Kanemoto is a wrestling machine, elevating this to well regarded status in its position. Unfortunately that’s the only takeaway from the match. Kanemoto is wonderful and I can’t wait to watch more. Minoru is always great, but was also overshadowed in this one. Overall, solid.

Kazunari Murakami & Yuki Ishikawa vs. King Of The Hills (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kenzo Suzuki)you may enjoy it

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • This was a fantastic hybrid wrestling showcase, essentially Inoki-ism, but good.
  • Everyone looked great in the process.
  • Tanahashi and Suzuki felt legitimate when they stepped up to the plate to shoot.
  • I was engaged in most of the work in the match.
  • Murakami continued to be pissed off not being in the match, which made his portions in the match even better.
  • Murakami took tons of suplexes which felt like a good wrestling equalizer to his shoot style.
  • The finish was awesome and unexpected with Murakami killing Tana out of nowhere.

Murakami TKO’d Tanahashi for the victory.

Verdict: This is the second best match on the show. Not high honors to uphold, because the show isn’t that good, but it was well done as a sprint at only 8 minutes. Everything from Tanahashi and Kenzo believably interacting with the shooters, to Ishikawa doing Yuki things, to Murakami BY FAR being a highlight of the show with the TKO and facial expressions on the apron–all made this a fun, unexpectedly good watch. I want more of this from NJPW going forward in 2002.

Jushin Thunder Liger, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask vs. Dick Togo & TEAM2000 (Gedo & Jado)you may enjoy it

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • This was a case of a match being saved by the second half.
  • The first half was fairly lifeless with Tiger taking all the offense.
  • A fun thing to come out of the first half was Liger getting a hot tag to beat up Togo.
  • The image of all six men in the ring at once was wild enough.
  • Togo hit one of the nastiest German suplexes on Sasuke I’ve ever seen.
  • The closing stretch was fantastic with great near falls including Sasuke taking a shit ton of offence capped off by a triple powerbomb and Liger kicking out of the Gedo Clutch.

Liger hit the brainbuster on Gedo for the pinfall victory.

Verdict: Act One, not so hot. Act Two, oh hell yes, give me all of it. This match was an insane mumbo jumbo of who’s who in Japan, with the god-tier team of Liger, Sasuke & Tiger shining bright in the Dome. Even the first half was still passable, with work on Tiger. When it picked up, it got incredible, and plus we had an all time levels WHAT THE HELL spot with Sasuke’s skull nearly being cracked on a German suplex. A no frills, good addition to the show.

Manabu Nakanishi vs. Giant Silvadon't watch

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • Nakanishi worked hard to make this work.
  • Silva wasn’t as bad as one would expect him to be.
  • They teased the torture rack to a huge reaction, and when it was finally applied for a short time, it got a bone chilling pop. Both men flew to the outside because the world couldn’t handle the thickness.
  • It was kept short, thank goodness.
  • The finish worked with Nakanishi hitting a DIVE onto Silva that kept him down.

Silva failed to answer the 20 count as Nakanishi got the victory.

Verdict: As much as I love Nakanishi, I can’t go hyperbolic on this one. This is an auto skip for anybody watching this show. I only sat through it because 1) Nakanishi always peaks my interest and 2) this is part of an insane deep dive. When you’re deep, you might as well go deeper. This won’t scar me for the rest of my life. It wasn’t even a DUD. A little scratch on the knee you still had fun getting in the process.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kendo Kashin (c) vs. Daijiro Matsuidon't watch

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • This was embarrassing.
  • The Junior Title should never have been treated like this.
  • Kendo Kashin is awful.
  • Matsui shot on Kashin, and when that didn’t get him a stoppage, slipped on the ropes going for a plancha then missed another attempt at a dive. That’s symbolism of this match. Go out of your way to watch the GIF.
  • I’m glad it ended in 5 minutes so the pain could be stopped.

Kashin executed a roll-up for the pinfall victory to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

Verdict: This is what happens when you stick your finger in a blender and put it on high speed. The pain of watching the match and also realizing how bad these two were, that is.

BATT (Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Muto) vs. Osamu Nishimura & Tatsumi Fujinamidon't watch

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • This was mild and was built around Muto and Fujinami and three shining wizards.
  • Hase and Nishimura did little things during the feeling out process and while grappling that kept me fairly intrigued.
  • The final few minutes were good with suplexes being traded around the horn.
  • Nishimura had a stretch on Muto and Fujinami leapt off Nishi’s leg to do a shining wizard!
  • Hase was bridging on a suplex but he wasn’t legal for the pin so Muto leapt off him to hit a shining wizard on Nishimura.
  • Muto hit another shining wizard on Fujinami for payback, as that was the finish.

Muto hit the shining wizard on Fujinami for the pinfall victory.

Verdict: This was okay, still fairly enjoyable. I loved the shining wizard banter that the match was built off of. Hase is always really good whenever I watch him in whatever role he’s in. Nishimura is a solid watch as well. This all made for a decent spot on the card. It didn’t over-extend its welcome as well. I got to see Muto run the ropes and hit that elbow. All is well.

The NJPW World version of the show (match by match) doesn’t contain Kensuke Sasaki vs. Naoya Ogawa, which went to a no contest in 4:02. Not missing much.

TEAM2000 (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. TEAM2000 (Giant Singh & Masahiro Chono)don't watch

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • The whole point of this match was that TEAM2000 explodes, but it exploded even more!
  • Chono played his part in the match, overseeing Singh, and being in the ring a lot, but I remember zilch from him.
  • The highlights of the match were either Tenkoji teaming up on Singh to produce some cool looking moments, or Singh laying them out.
  • Singh worked a mini handicap match even, taking Tenkoji out as Chono looked on. At least the camera shots were neat.
  • THE GREAT KHALI WAS IN THE CO MAIN EVENT OF THE TOKYO DOME.
  • The finish worked as Silva appeared on the apron, only for Singh to bump into him, and Tenkoji took advantage as such with Kojima hitting his Koji-lariat and both rolling up Singh for the win.
  • Though it wasn’t terrible, this is still your co main event of your Tokyo Dome show. That in itself is abysmal to think about.

Kojima and Tenzan rolled-up Singh together to get the pinfall victory. Post-match, TEAM2000 exploded with Silva and Singh having a stare-down only for Singh to leave. Chono then wondered what became of this match and stable.

Verdict: This wasn’t bad, but it most definitely wasn’t good. It felt like it dragged even while it was still a short match. Tenzan and Kojima carried the match on their shoulders due to charisma and their fun double teams on Singh. Please do not watch this.

GHC Heavyweight Championship: Jun Akiyama (c) vs. Yuji Nagatayou need to see this

Notes – Pros & Cons: 

  • Amazing atmosphere as it’s the Tokyo Dome main event.
  • Reviewed match before for a former WWW podcast, History of the GHC, yet undersold how good this was.
  • Nagata beating the hell out of Akiyama for the first few minutes was a picture perfect way to get things going.
  • Revenge only came when an exploder off the ramp couldn’t happen, so Akiyama settled for a DDT on the ramp, plus a tombstone on the floor.
  • The pacing was on the money, with every big move, submission, and near fall escalating with the crowd’s energy.
  • Lots of amazing trading like an exploder reversed into the Nagata lock, as both try to steal from each other.
  • Nagata hit a wonderful DDT into Nagata lock combo.
  • The crowd lost their shit at the near falls mounting, including Akiyama surviving the best of what Nagata had.
  • Akiyama kicks out of the backdrop, Nagata kicks out of the exploder.
  • EMERALD FLOWSION WAS HIT!
  • Akiyama goes over in a beautiful way.

Akiyama hit a wrist-clutch exploder on Nagata for the pinfall victory to retain the GHC Heavyweight Championship.

Verdict: This was way better than I remembered it being the last time I watched it, and I still really liked it then. It was paced wonderfully, at under 20 minutes. Most Tokyo Dome main events can go double that. There was so much psychology packed into one match as well with both stealing moves, Akiyama being beat up with Nagata sliding into that “annoying punk” role, and a lot more. This is a must watch match that accomplished a lot. The cherry on top was how into it the crowd was, as well as the Emerald Flowsion being hit. Wrestling is art. This is yet another example.

NJPW WRESTLING WORLD 2002
  • Sub Par - 4.5/10
    4.5/10

OVERALL

While still close to an average rating, Wrestling World 2002 wasn't good in any way as a complete product. The only must watch match is the main event, but that was to be expected. The other portions of the card ranged from DUD to abysmal to okay to very good (only twice). Yet it still was a breezy watch as every match went under 20 minutes, and most under 15. This will be remembered as the show where Sasuke nearly died due to the strength of Dick Togo and the Tokyo Dome ramp, as well as the day where Jun Akiyama beat Yuji Nagata on the New Japan turf in an exquisite match.

4.5/10

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