The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh, Sasaki, and Hayashi vs. TAKA Michinoku, Buchanan, and Rico
on February 13th, 2005

Event: All Japan "Mutoh Winter Festival"
Location: Hakata Star Lane
Attendance: 2.450

TAKA does some entertaining mic work before the match, he is gold on the mic if you have never heard him.  These teams seemed mismatched as hell, but we will see how it works out.  Wild melee to start, Sasaki is isolated in the ring by Buchanan and Rico, but he clotheslines them both down.  After Sasaki clotheslines Buchanan out of the ring, Mutoh and Hayashi hit simultaneous dragon screw leg whips on Rico and TAKA.  They then pose in the corner and the crowd cheers their awesomeness while TAKA and company regroup on the outside.  TAKA and Hayashi finally get things started, TAKA asks for a test of strength, but kicks Hayashi instead.  The two trade slaps, but TAKA hits a jumping kick to the head, knocking Hayashi down.  Irish whip by TAKA, Hayashi does a handstand in the corner off the second rope, and TAKA is too scared to approach him.  Finally he does, he pushes off the first two attempts at a headscissors, but Hayashi eventually manages to hit it.  Hayashi dropkicks TAKA out of the ring and follows him out with a pescado.  Hayashi goes back in, and it appears we get an obvious *clip* as now it is Sasaki and Rico in the ring.  Irish whip by Sasaki, and he shoulderblocks Rico to the mat.  Scoop slam by Sasaki, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Snapmare by Sasaki and he applies a rear chinlock.  Sasaki tags in Mutoh, Irish whip, but Rico kicks Mutoh and clotheslines him down.  Rico tags in Buchanan, who punches Mutoh in the stomach.  Clubbing blows by Buchanan follow and he knees Mutoh to the mat.  Buchanan picks up Mutoh, Irish whip, and he elbows Mutoh down.  Buchanan goes for an elbow drop, but Mutoh avoids it, knocks down Buchanan, and nails the Flash Elbow.  Mutoh tags in Hayashi, who begins working on Buchanan's leg.  Hayashi applies a leg submission, but releases it so he can kick Buchanan in the leg while he is in the corner.  Slap by Hayashi, but Buchanan absorbs the blows and chops Hayashi.  They trade chops, which Buchanan wins and he tags in TAKA.  TAKA throws Hayashi in the corner and tells Sasaki to tag in.  TAKA asks for a test of strength, but kicks Sasaki instead.  Irish whip by Sasaki, he goes for a shoulderblock, but TAKA doesn't go down.  Again TAKA goes off the ropes with the same result, but the third time TAKA is knocked to the mat.  TAKA goes for a scoop slam, but Sasaki blocks it and delivers a vertical suplex.  Sasaki tackles TAKA hard into the corner, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Scoop slam by Sasaki and he tags in Mutoh.  Mutoh gingerly comes in the ring, Irish whip, and he applies the sleeper hold.  Mutoh changes the hold to the Dragon Sleeper, but Rico comes in to break it up.  Mutoh tags Sasaki back in, Irish whip by Sasaki, but TAKA ducks the clothesline.  This doesn't help TAKA much however, as Sasaki proceeds to pummel him with lariats (while alternating front to back) until TAKA falls to the mat.  Cover, but TAKA somehow kicks out.  Sasaki picks up TAKA, Irish whip, and he knees TAKA hard in the stomach.  Hayashi is tagged in, scoop slam by Hayashi, and he hits a slingshot senton from the apron.  Cover, but it only gets a two count. 

Hayashi applies the Octopus Hold to TAKA, but Buchanan comes in and breaks it up.  Hayashi tags in Mutoh and Mutoh kicks TAKA in the chest.  Irish whip, but TAKA catches Mutoh with a superkick and tags in Buchanan.  Buchanan picks up Mutoh and clubs him repeatedly in the arm.  After picking Mutoh up, he grabs his arm, goes to the top turnbuckle, and does a little Old School before dropping down and applying The Claw on Mutoh's shoulder.  After keeping the hold on for a minute or so, Mutoh finally fights out of it, but Buchanan tags in Rico.  Rico wraps Mutoh's arm around the top rope and works it over with strikes.  An arm bar is applied by Rico, but Mutoh makes it to the ropes and Rico tags in TAKA.  Arm breaker by TAKA, and Mutoh rolls out of the ring.  He is met outside by Buchanan and Rico, who throw him shoulder-first into the ring post.  Buchanan continues attacking Mutoh on the ramp before throwing him back in the ring.  TAKA hits another armbreaker and applies an armbar on the mat.  After jumping on Mutoh's arm, TAKA tags in Buchanan.  Buchanan strikes Mutoh in the arm and re-applies The Claw.  Irish whip by Buchanan, but Mutoh rolls out of the way and hits a dropkick.  This allows Mutoh to tag in Sasaki, who chops/clotheslines Buchanan in the corner.  Irish whip by Sasaki and he nails the bulldog.  Buchanan fights back, Irish whip by Buchanan, reversed, and Sasaki knees him in the stomach and follows that with a quick Ipponzei (shoulder throw).  Sasaki goes off the ropes, hits a lariat, cover, but Buchanan barely kicks out.  Sasaki applies the Strangle Hold Gamma, but Rico quickly breaks it up.  Sasaki goes off the ropes, but Buchanan catches him with a powerslam and tags in Rico.  Irish whip by Rico in the corner and he hits a clothesline.  Rico kicks Sasaki in the corner, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Rico picks up Sasaki, Irish whip, reversed, but Rico hits a series of kicks, ending with a stiff kick to Sasaki's face.  Cover by Rico, but again it only gets a two count.  Back up, Rico goes off the ropes, but Sasaki catches him with a powerslam and tags in Hayashi.  Hayashi goes to the top turnbuckle and nails a diving hurricanrana.  He goes for the W4, but Rico fights him off.  Hayashi hits a spinebuster followed by a Lionsault, cover, but it gets a two count.  Hayashi picks up Rico, but Rico fights him off and delivers a neck breaker.  Rico tags in TAKA, Irish whip from the corner by TAKA, reversed, but Hayashi misses a splash.  TAKA quickly follows up with a trio of kicks, ending with a superkick that floors Hayashi.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  TAKA goes to the top turnbuckle, but Hayashi catches him with a dropkick when he jumps off.  TAKA stops Hayashi from tagging out, Irish whip by TAKA, but Hayashi does a handstand springboard spinning heel kick, knocking TAKA to the mat.  Hayashi tags in Mutoh, who promptly dropkicks TAKA twice in the knee and hits a dragon screw leg whip.  Mutoh applies the figure four, but Rico and Buchanan both break it up.  Rico and Buchanan then run over and knock Sasaki and Hayashi off the apron, leaving Mutoh alone in the ring.  Irish whip by Rico to the corner, he hits a clothesline, TAKA kicks Mutoh twice in the head, and Buchanan ends it with a scissors kick.  Cover, but Mutoh barely kicks out.  Buchanan picks up Mutoh and holds him for TAKA, but Mutoh ducks and TAKA hits Buchanan by accident.  Sasaki is back and lariats Rico, while Mutoh hits a dragon screw leg whip on TAKA followed by the Shining Wizard.  Cover by Mutoh, and he gets the three count pinfall!  Your winners:  Keiji Mutoh, Kensuke Sasaki, and Kaz Hayashi

Match Thoughts:  A good match, although generally without substance.  The cards were stacked against RO&D, but they held their own against a superior team.  3 vs. 3 matches tend to lack flow and smart ring psychology, but this one wasn't too bad with Mutoh winning the role of Ricky Morton when I was expecting Hayashi to be the one tossed around.  TAKA looked great (I don't really understand the criticism he gets from some fans for being lazy), but Rico seemed a step behind on more then one occasion and I think it was a good idea to have him in the ring the least of the three.  At the time he was still getting used to the Japanese style, so it is understandable that he would still be adjusting.  The end was hot if not predictable, and while it won't go down in history as a classic there was more good then bad here.  Score:  6.0

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