The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh and Masakatsu Funaki vs. Taiyo Kea and Minoru Suzuki
All Japan World Tag Team Championship Challenge on January 3rd, 2010

Event: All Japan "New Year Shining Series 2010"
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Announced Attendance: 2,100

This match is for Kea and Suzuki's All Japan World Tag Team Championship. Funaki and Suzuki start things off. Kicks to the leg by Suzuki but Funaki backs out of it. They circle each other, takedown by Suzuki, Funaki goes for the arm but Suzuki gets out of it. They jockey for position, Funaki goes for the triangle choke but Suzuki returns to his feet. Funaki tags in Mutoh while Funaki tags in Kea, takedown by Kea but Kea allows Mutoh to return to his feet. Waistlock by Mutoh and he covers Kea, but Kea switches positions with him. Armdrag by Mutoh but Kea applies an armbar until Mutoh gets a foot on the ropes. Mutoh rolls out of the ring to re-group but returns after a moment, tie-up, side headlock by Kea but Mutoh Irish whips out of it. Shoulderblock by Kea, he goes off the ropes but Mutoh catches him with an armdrag. Kea tags in Suzuki, takedown by Mutoh and he applies a wristlock before tagging in Funaki. Suzuki kicks Funaki as he enters the ring and the two trade slaps and kicks. Suzuki pushes Funaki to the mat and kicks him in the chest, but Funaki slaps on a cross armbreaker as Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes to force a break. Kicks to the arm by Funaki and he tags Mutoh back in, snapmare by Mutoh and he delivers the Flash Elbow. Keylock by Mutoh, he picks up Suzuki and pushes Suzuki to the mat while applying pressure to his arm. Mutoh tags in Funaki, kicks to the chest by Funaki, he goes off the ropes but Suzuki catches him with a knee to the stomach and throws Funaki out of the ring. Kea jumps outside and throws Funaki into the railing, kneeing him in the midsection. Kea slams Funaki into the apron before sliding him back into the ring, Suzuki picks up Funaki, snapmare, and he kicks Funaki in the back. Cover, but it gets a two count. Suzuki picks up Funaki, knees by Suzuki and he goes off the ropes, with Kea doing a blind tag. Lariat by Kea, cover, but it gets a two count. Suzuki tosses around Mutoh outside the ring while in the ring Kea hits Funaki with a jumping elbow strike followed by a reverse splash for a two count. Kea applies a reverse chinlock, he picks up Funaki and tags in Suzuki. Knee to the ribs by Suzuki, judo throw by Suzuki and he applies a side headlock while trapping Funaki's arm. Funaki wiggles out of it and then grabs the bottom rope for a break. Suzuki applies a single leg crab hold and he tags in Kea. Kicks to the arm by Kea, he picks up Funaki and punches Mutoh off the apron. Back to Funaki, chops by Kea and he delivers a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Reverse chinlock by Kea and he rakes Funaki in the eyes. Kea tags in Suzuki, who applies a leg lock to Suzuki through the ropes while the referee is busy elsewhere. Finally the referee breaks it up, Kea picks up Funaki and throws him out of the ring to Suzuki.

Suzuki punches Funaki but Funaki slaps him back. They trade strikes as Suzuki pushes Funaki against the apron before rolling him back into the ring for Kea. Kea picks up Funaki, Irish whip, reversed, and Funaki nails a jumping back kick. Funaki tags in Mutoh, dropkicks to the knee by Mutoh and he gives Kea a dragon screw leg whip. Kea knees Mutoh when he goes for the second one however and kicks Mutoh out of the ring. Kea follows him out but he is caught over the railing and Mutoh gives him a dragon screw leg whip. Suzuki comes over the Mutoh throws him into the guard rail before hitting a Shining Wizard. Mutoh rolls back into the ring with Kea slowly following, but Mutoh kicks him in the knee as he gets back in and hits a dragon screw leg whip into the ropes. Dropkick to the knee by Mutoh and he hits a second one. Dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh and he applies the figure four leglock. The referee blocks Suzuki from interfering and eventually Kea makes it to the ropes to break the hold. Dropkick to the knee by Mutoh, Irish whip, but Kea catches him with a jumping DDT. Kea crawls to his corner and tags in Suzuki, snapmare by Suzuki and he kicks Mutoh in the chest. Cover, but it gets a two count. Suzuki picks up Mutoh, Irish whip, but Mutoh rolls out of the way and hits a dropkick. This gives Mutoh time to tag in Funaki, Irish whip by Funaki and he kicks Suzuki in the chest. Landing tombstone piledriver by Funaki, cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, knees by Funaki but Suzuki catches him with a sleeper hold. Kea runs in to intercept Mutoh, but Funaki makes it to the ropes to force a break. Suzuki tosses down the referee as he doesn't want to break the hold. Finally Kea tags himself in as Suzuki till has the hold on, then Suzuki grabs Mutoh while Kea slaps a front facelock onto Funaki. Funaki get a foot on the ropes and Kea releases it, Kea picks up Funaki and hits a backdrop suplex. Suzuki picks up Funaki and he also hits a backdrop suplex. Kea picks up Funaki, and he hits a reverse DDT. Mutoh flies in with a Shining Wizard but Suzuki comes in and hits a package piledriver onto Mutoh. Funaki grabs Suzuki and drops him with a backdrop suplex, and all four wrestlers are down. Kea is up first and he hits a lariat onto Funaki, cover, but it gets a two count. Kea goes for TKO but Funaki gets out of it and applies a kneelock. Suzuki breaks it up but Mutoh knocks him out with a Shining Wizard. Mutoh gives Kea a trio of Shining Wizards, then Funaki picks up Kea and hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but Suzuki has recovered and he breaks it up. Mutoh puts Suzuki in the figure four while Funaki goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick to Kea's knee. Abisegeri by Funaki to Kea, he drags him in the middle of the ring and applies a knee hold. Suzuki tries to break it up but can't reach them, but Kea reaches the ropes. Funaki pulls Kea back out and applies a wicked Cross Heel Hold, Suzuki still barely can't reach Funaki as he is still in the figure four nearby, and after fighting it for a moment Kea is forced to submit! Your winners and new champions: Keiji Mutoh and Masakatsu Funaki

Match Thoughts: A good match with a well-told story and an ending you'd expect in a title match. Some would argue the ending was really drawn out, and while I can't really disagree, the imagine of Suzuki barely not being able to reach Kea for over 30 seconds while Kea tries to get to Suzuki or to the ropes was different and memorable. I wonder if Mutoh's knees were already giving him a lot of trouble (he would have knee surgery in February) as it is very rare for him in a title match not to use the moonsault at some point. Funaki did most the grunt work but Mutoh had most of the meaningful offense as he ripped apart Kea's knee. My only real complaint is I never really felt that Suzuki/Kea were on the verge of winning, they had a few close saves which is normal in a championship match but neither seemed close to hitting that knockout move and as champions I think they should have had more closer calls. The first part did drag a bit but by the second half business picked up. Overall it was entertaining, dragged a few places but I liked the ending and Mutoh was on point with his attack of Kea's leg. Score: 6.5

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