The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh vs. Masahiro Chono
on August 11th, 1991

Event: New Japan G1 Climax Final
Location: Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
Announced Attendance: 11,500

Mutoh and Chono circle each other to start the match, tie-up, Chono pushes Mutoh into the ropes and he gives a clean break. They circle each other again, tie-up, side headlock by Mutoh, Chono Irish whips out of it but Mutoh shoulderblocks him down. Back up they go into a Test of Strength, but Mutoh flips Chono to the mat and holds down his shoulders. Chono struggles back up but Mutoh puts Chono into a side headlock. Takedown by Mutoh but Chono quickly gets out of it and applies a headscissors. Mutoh gets out of it and applies an ankle lock, Chono gets out of it and goes for a cross armbreaker, Mutoh blocks it but Chono keeps a hold on his arm. Mutoh gets to the ropes and rolls out of the ring, but he returns after a moment. Drop toehold by Chono and he applies a reverse chinlock, but Mutoh gets out of it and applies an arm wringer. Back kick by Mutoh, snapmare, and Mutoh hits the Flashing Elbow. Mutoh pushes Chono into the corner, Irish whip, but Chono avoids the Space Rolling Elbow and drops Mutoh with a backdrop suplex. Chono applies an arm submission hold but Mutoh grabs the ropes to force a break. Chono and Mutoh return to their feet. Punches by Chono and Mutoh returns fire, Chono gets the better of it but Mutoh delivers a headbutt. Another headbutt by Mutoh and he applies a knee lock. Mutoh continues working over Chono's leg and applies the Muta Lock, then he applies the move now known as the Cattle Mutilation. After a moment he releases the hold, Mutoh picks up Chono, snapmare, and Mutoh applies the cross armbreaker. Chono gets out of it by stomping on Mutoh's face, then Chono delivers a Yakuza Kick. Another Yakuza Kick by Chono, and Mutoh rolls out to the apron. Chono kicks him again while Mutoh is on the apron, sending Mutoh out of the ring and crashing into the guard rail. Chono gets a running start in the ring and sails out onto Mutoh with a tope suicida. Chono gets back in the ring and goes up to the top turnbuckle, jumping out onto Mutoh with a plancha.

Chono gets back into the ring, then brings Mutoh in with him and nails a piledriver. Another piledriver by Chono and he goes for the STF, but Mutoh scoots out of the ring. Chono follows him and goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Mutoh reverses it with a back bodydrop. Mutoh drags Chono out of the padded area onto the floor and drops Chono with a piledriver of his own. Mutoh slides Chono back into the ring, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Mutoh picks up Chono and hits a backdrop suplex, cover, but it only gets a two count. Mutoh picks up Chono and delivers a German suplex hold, but it gets a two count. Mutoh picks up Chono and nails a Gotch-style piledriver. Mutoh drags Chono to his feet and delivers a dragon suplex hold, but Chono's feet land in the ropes and he has to break the hold. Snapmare by Mutoh and he goes for a moonsault, but Chono rolls out of the way. Chono goes off the ropes and stomps Mutoh into the mat, he then jumps onto Mutoh's back and applies the STF. Mutoh inches to the ropes and makes it to force a break. Bodyslam by Chono, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving shoulderblock. Chono picks up Mutoh and applies the Octopus Hold in the middle of the ring. Mutoh makes it to the ropes to get the hold released, Chono grabs Mutoh and snaps off a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Chono picks up Mutoh and goes for a suplex, but Mutoh reverses it into a vertical suplex of his own. Mutoh picks up Chono and now he is the one that applies the Octopus Hold but Chono gets out of it. Mutoh picks up Chono, snapmare, he goes up to the top turnbuckle again and waits for Chono to get up, as he jumps off Chono goes for a dropkick but Mutoh leapfrogs over it. Mutoh picks up Chono and hits a backdrop suplex, he goes up top again and both wrestlers go for dropkicks at the same time. Both wrestlers are slow to recover, but Chono is up first and he puts Mutoh in the STF. Mutoh is too close to the ropes however and forces the break, Irish whip by Mutoh but Chono avoids the dropkick. Yakuza Kick by Chono but Mutoh counters with a jumping elbow strike. Mutoh hits a break breaker onto Chono, he goes up top but Chono gets his knees up when he goes for the moonsault. Chono picks up Mutoh and plants him with a powerbomb, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Masahiro Chono

Match Thoughts: Epic. First of all, it must be noted that this was the second match of Mutoh's in the G1 Climax to have the pillows thrown into the ring, which just shows how connected the crowd felt with his matches. I honestly feel that this match "made" the G1 Climax. At the time this was the first ever G1 Climax, and if this match had bombed while there might have been more tournaments I don't think that the G1 Climax would have become one of the premiere tournaments in the world and currently the longest running annual tournament in any wrestling promotion. This also did a lot in Chono and Mutoh's careers, as at this point neither had really been considered a permanent main eventer (a few tag titles between them but only Chono had gotten an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match a few months prior at this point) but after this match there was no doubt in anyone's mind that these two would lead the promotion into the future. The crowd was that electric and the match was just that damn good.

Now onto the match itself, many current puroresu fans haven't had the pleasure of seeing Chono before he got banged up in the mid-90s, which is a shame because prior to his neck injuries he was a great wrestler. I loved that both had similar strategies since both came up together so to speak and had similar trainers. Both wrestlers used various submission holds to weaken their opponents (ranging from the Muta Lock to cross armbreakers), and both also tried using higher end submission holds to win the match or completely wear out their opponents (the Octopus Hold). By 25 minutes in, both wrestlers were one big move away from winning or losing, as both were worn down enough from a tough schedule in the G1 and a physical match with the submissions and the the piledrivers. Mutoh couldn't hit his big move though, as he kept failing to hit the moonsault, and Chono's powerbomb was enough to keep Mutoh down after the long match. Within all this was a very amped up crowd as Mutoh and Chono delivered in their first main event singles match together. Overall just a really special match not only for historical reasons but also for just watching two young wrestlers go out and do everything they can to have a great match. A must for any fan of New Japan, Mutoh, Chono, or of wrestling in general. Score: 9.5

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