The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh vs. Shinya Hashimoto
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Challenge on May 3rd, 1995

Event: New Japan "Wrestling Dontaku"
Location: Fukuoka Dome
Attendance: 48,000

This match is for Hashimoto's IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Mutoh connects with a series of dropkicks to start the match, Irish whip, but Hashimoto moves out of the way of the handstand elbow strike and kicks Mutoh back. Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's legs, but Hashimoto sidesteps out of the way. Waistlock by Mutoh, he gets Hashimoto to the mat and applies an armlock. Hashimoto struggles back to his feet, but Mutoh rolls him up for a one count. Hashimoto goes for Mutoh's arm but Mutoh gets free and pulls back on Hashimoto's leg. Mutoh applies the Indian Deathlock and then applies a modified STF, but Hashimoto gets a hand on the ropes and Mutoh releases the hold. Hashimoto gets back to his feet, side headlock by Hashimoto and he knees Mutoh in the stomach before applying a keylock on the mat. After a moment Mutoh rolls out of the hold and gives Hashimoto a hard punch to the face. Drop toehold by Mutoh and he applies a grounded ankle lock on Hashimoto. After a minute Hashimoto gets a hand on the ropes and again Mutoh releases the hold. Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's leg, but Hashimoto moves and kicks Mutoh in the face. Mutoh manages to grab Hashimoto's leg and gets him to the mat with a dragon screw leg whip. Mutoh goes back to the leg submission but Hashimoto reverses it with a reverse chinlock until Mutoh gets a hand on the bottom rope. Back on their feet, Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's leg but Hashimoto jumps down on top of him and applies a reverse chinlock. Mutoh reverses it back with an armbar but releases the hold after a moment and back men are back on their feet again. Hashimoto headbutts Mutoh repeatedly in the head and kicks him in the chest. Elbow to the back of the head by Hashimoto and he kicks Mutoh to the mat. Neckbreaker by Hashimoto, cover, but it gets a two count. Hashimoto applies a really weak looking cobra clutch but reverts it to a cross armbreaker. After struggling Mutoh gets a foot on the ropes, but Hashimoto goes right back after him and throws Mutoh into the corner.

Backbreaker by Hashimoto and he delivers the piledriver. Hashimoto goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Mutoh rolls out of the way of the elbow drop. Flash elbow drop by Mutoh, Irish whip from the corner and he hits the handstand springboard elbow strike followed by the bulldog. Missile dropkick by Mutoh from the top turnbuckle, cover, but it only gets a two count. Mutoh goes for a punch, but Hashimoto sweeps his legs out from under him. Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drives him back into the corner and hits a shoulder tackle. Mutoh puts Hashimoto up on the top turnbuckle, joins him, and nails the Frankensteiner. Cover by Mutoh, but Hashimoto kicks out. Mutoh picks up Hashimoto and delivers the German suplex, but again he can only gets two. Mutoh goes to the top turnbuckle, but Hashimoto rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Elbow drop to the back of Mutoh by Hashimoto and he hits a jumping back kick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Hashimoto picks up Mutoh, goes off the ropes and hits a spinning heel kick, cover, but it gets another two count. Hashimoto gets Mutoh up again, but Mutoh quickly applies the cross armbreaker. Hashimoto is too close to the ropes though and Mutoh breaks the hold. They trade blows with Mutoh trying to use the back kick, but Hashimoto fights him off and kicks Mutoh hard in the chest. Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drops down to the mat to block it. Hashimoto goes off the ropes and dropkicks Mutoh while he is still kneeling. Again Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drops down to his knees to stop Hashimoto from hitting the move. Knees to the stomach by Hashimoto and he manages to deliver the DDT to Mutoh. Cover, but Mutoh barely kicks out. Hashimoto waits for Mutoh to get up and levels him with a high kick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Hashimoto drags Mutoh to his feet and goes for the brainbuster, but Mutoh reverses it and flips Hashimoto to the mat. Both men slowly get up, but Mutoh puts Hashimoto in a full nelson and nails a release dragon suplex. Mutoh goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a moonsault, then quickly runs back to the corner and hits a moonsault from the second turnbuckle. Cover, and Mutoh barely gets the three count pinfall victory! Your winner and new champion: Keiji Mutoh

Match Thoughts: First, it should be noted that Hashimoto had held the belt for a full year since he had defeated Fujinami at Wrestling Dontaku 1994. I think the end of the match was very well done, but it started really slow. The middle chunk of the match had a lot of submissions, which is fine, but it was mostly moves that are not considered dangerous that were kept on for long periods and the wrestlers looked like they were taking a break. Once they got through that phase of the match (to be more exact, when Hashimoto took back over) business picked up and Mutoh also started wrestling with more meaning. This match was Hashimoto's to win, but Mutoh got out of the brainbuster (which no one kicks out of) and had to use two rapid-fire moonsaults to barely keep Hashimoto's shoulders down. If the middle portion had been better this would have been a classic, but as it is I still think its a damn good match. Score: 7.0

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