The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
on February 16th, 2005

Event: All Japan Pro Wrestling "Realize"
Attendance: 6,000
Location: Yoyogi National Stadium Gymnasium #2

Tie-up to start, waistlock by Mutoh into a standing armbar, but Tanahashi floats over behind his back and applies a front facelock. Wristlock by Tanahashi, but Mutoh makes it to the ropes and Tanahashi releases the hold. Takedown by Mutoh, but Tanahashi gets out of it and both men are on their feet again. Another takedown by Mutoh and he applies a facelock on the mat. Keylock attempt by Mutoh, but Tanahashi gets out of it and applies a leg lock. Mutoh eventually gets to the ropes though and Tanahashi breaks the hold. Back up, waistlock by Tanahashi and he applies a side headlock on the mat. Mutoh struggles to his feet and applies a hammerlock, but Tanahashi backs him up into the corner and connects on a flip kick. Snapmare by Tanahashi and he hits an elbow drop. Cover, but it only gets a one count. Reverse chinlock by Tanahashi, but Mutoh punches his way out of it. Snapmare by Mutoh and he delivers the Flash Elbow. Side headlock by Mutoh, Tanahashi Irish whips out of it, and Mutoh shoulderblocks him down. Mutoh goes off the ropes, rolls out of the way of Tanahashi's attempted strike and dropkicks Tanahashi in the knee. Another dropkick to the knee by Mutoh, and he dropkicks him a third time in the right knee. Dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh and he dropkicks Tanahashi in the knee while he lays on the mat. Another dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh and he slaps on the figure four leg lock. Tanahashi makes it to the ropes though and Mutoh has to break the hold. Kick to the knee by Mutoh, but Tanahashi grabs his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip of his own. Mutoh rolls out of the ring, but Tanahashi goes out after him. Mutoh greets Tanahashi with a knee and goes to Irish whip Tanahashi into the railing, but Tanahashi slams on the breaks and delivers a dragon suplex to Mutoh on the outside. Tanahashi gets back in the ring, and when Mutoh gets to his feet Tanahashi knocks him back with a baseball slide. Tanahashi hen goes off the far ropes and sails out of the ring with a tope suicida. Tanahashi rolls Mutoh back into the ring, goes to the top turnbuckle and connects with a missile dropkick. German suplex hold by Tanahashi, but it only gets a two count. Tanahashi goes for the dragon suplex again, but Mutoh grabs the top rope. Irish whip by Tanahashi, reversed, and Tanahashi hits the Sling Blade.

Dragon sleeper by Tanahashi, but he releases the hold after a moment. Irish whip by Tanahashi, reversed, Tanahashi goes for a sunset flip, Mutoh rolls through and goes for a Shining Wizard, but Tanahashi blocks it. Victory roll by Tanahashi, but it gets another two count. Dropkick to the knee by Mutoh and he goes for a dragon screw leg whip, but Tanahashi pushes him off and applies the sleeperhold, and then reverts it into the dragon sleeper. Cover by Tanahashi, but Mutoh kicks out at two. Again Tanahashi goes for the dragon suplex, Mutoh fights out of it, so Tanahashi hits another German suplex hold for a two count. Tanahashi gets Mutoh to his feet and goes for the dragon suplex again, again Mutoh pushes his hands down, so Tanahashi delivers a third German suplex hold for another two count. Again Tanahashi gets Mutoh back up and this time nails the dragon suplex hold for a long two count. Dragon sleeper by Tanahashi and he applies a body scissors while maintaining the hold. Mutoh gets out of it after a moment, Tanahashi picks him back up and goes for a second dragon suplex, again Mutoh blocks it and Tanahashi goes for a German suplex, but this time Mutoh lands on his knees and comes back with a Shining Wizard. Dropkick to the knee by Mutoh and he goes for a dragon screw leg whip, Tanahashi gets out of it and goes off the ropes, but Mutoh connects on two consecutive Shining Wizards while Tanahashi is standing. Mutoh goes over to Tanahashi, but Tanahashi sneaks in a small package for a two count. Back up, Mutoh hits a Shining Wizard from the front and then one from the back. He then hits one final Shining Wizard, cover, but Tanahashi barely kicks out. Backbreaker by Mutoh, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Keiji Mutoh

Match Thoughts: Well this match was all kinds of fun, and would have been excellent if Tanahashi had bothered remember that his knee was injured for even a minute after Mutoh had worked it over. Granted I love Mutoh's work, but the match was so damn logical it had me giggling while I was watching it. First of all, you have to remember that Tanahashi is the younger less experienced wrestler and Mutoh is the long time veteran. Tanahashi gets excited when he sees that Mutoh is weakened, and just throws everything at him he has. He does one too many of the same move however, Mutoh has figured out a way to reverse it, and the big momentum shift takes place. Mutoh then hits his frequent finisher (front and back Shining Wizard followed by a powerful one), but it doesn't keep Tanahashi down. Not to worry, for unlike Tanahashi, Mutoh has an uber-finisher tucked away. If Tanahashi had another move besides the dragon suplex, then Mutoh wouldn't have "seen it before" and known how to reverse it, and he might have won the match. Fun stuff, and I was surprised that Mutoh took a dragon suplex on the outside, he doesn't normally take big bumps like that. So in the end Tanahashi loses, but he learns a valuable lesson from his idol and can take what he learned to make himself a better wrestler (which in the year since this match he hasn't, but that's not Mutoh's fault). Very good match. Score: 7.5

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