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SLAM! Wrestling International -- 2000: The Year-In-Review in Japan


What a year for Japan!

The year 2000 had to have been the most historically significant year in Japan in a long time. So many events helped to change and shape the landscape of wrestling in Japan forever.

From the death of Jumbo Tsuruta, the break up of All Japan and the formation of NOAH to New Japan and All Japan actually working together, 2000 was a year Japanese wrestling fans won't soon forget.

Relive the past twelve months in Japan with this comprehensive timeline, chronicling the events that helped to shape the year into what it was.

JANUARY

2 - Steve Williams wins All Japan's annual 16-man Battle Royal at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.

4 - New Japan draws 63, 500 fans for their annual Tokyo Dome spectacular. Kensuke Sasaki defeats Genichiro Tenryu to win the IWGP World Heavyweight title in the main event.... On the biggest card in the Osaka Pro Wrestling promotion's history, Super Delfin defeats Dick Togo in the main event. 5 - Tetsuhiro Kuroda defeats Masato Tanaka to win the FMW World title at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.

MASANORI SAITO 6 - Nikkan Sports, one of the leading sports publications in Japan, picks the October 31, 1998 match between Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi as the match of the decade.

7 - All Japan star Gary Albright dies in the ring at an indy show in Hazelton, PA.

9 - In their first-ever singles match, Misawa defeats Hiro Hase in Fukuoka. On the under card, Steve Williams & George Hines battle Vader & Johnny Smith to a no-contest. It is the first time an All Japan match ended without a clean finish since 1990!

16 - Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion sells out Korakuen Hall as Magnum Tokyo, Dragon Kid and Masaaki Mochizuki defeat Cima, Sumo Fuji and Makoto in the main event.

17 - Kenta Kobashi defeats Toshiaki Kawada in Osaka in Kawada's return match for All Japan. Kawada had been out of action for several months due to an eye operation.

22 - Yoshinobu Kanemaru wins the All Japan Asunaro Cup (Young Lions Cup) in Tokyo.

23 - Vader retains the Triple Crown title defeating Jun Akiyama in Yokohama.

24 - All Japan star Bobby Duncum Jr. is found dead in his home in Texas.

FEBRUARY

10 - All Japan Women and the JWP women's promotions run the first of back-to-back joint show at Korakuen Hall.

11- Mexican legends Mil Mascaras and Dos Caras team up on a CMLL-Japan show in Kawasaki.

12 - Vader and Steve Williams make their debut as a tag team in Tokyo.

MASANORI SAITO 20 - Vader and Steve Williams win the World Double Tag-tam titles from Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama in Kobe.... New Japan sells out Tokyo's Sumo Hall as Team 2000 defeat Team New Japan in best-of-seven series of singles matches.

22 - Shadow WX sets himself on fire at Korakuen Hall during a match in Big Japan Pr Wrestling's Grand Prix Extreme tournament.

27 - Kenta Kobashi captures the Triple Crown title from Vader at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall... On the under card, Jun Akiyama defeated Mitsuharu Misawa. It was the first singles win for Akiyama over Misawa.

MARCH

1 - The Great Sasuke celebrates the tenth anniversary of his pro debut on a Michinoku Pro Wrestling show in Nagoya.

MASANORI SAITO 6- Mexican legend Perro Aguayo had what was advertised as his last match in Japan (he was a regular on New Japan tours in the late 70s/early 80s) teaming with his son, Perro Aguayo Jr. & Dr Wagner Jr. to defeat Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Gran Hamada & Negro Casas in Tokyo.

8 - Former AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel and Japanese Strong Style legend Yoshiaki Fujiwara announce the formation of a new promotion, Japan Pro Wrestling Association.

11 - The annual Rikidozan Memorial show, featuring stars from several Japanese promotions, draws 9000 fans to the Yokohama Arena. In the main event, Ron Reiss and Genichiro Tenryu defeat Shinya Hashimoto and Naoya Ogawa.

17 - The IWA-Japan promotion runs its biggest show of the year at the Yokohama Bunka Gym.

19 - IWGP World Heavyweight champ Kensuke Sasaki retains his title by defeating Satoshi Kojima in Nagoya.

26 - Takao Amori defeats Jun Akiyama in a first round match of All Japan's annual Champion Carnival tournament in Nagoya. The match, a mere seven seconds long, was the shortest match in the history of All Japan... Christopher Daniels, wrestling under the Curry Man gimmick, drops the British Commonwealth Jr. title to Tiger Mask in Aomori on a Michinoku Pro card.

27 - Masato Tanaka returns to FMW at Korakuen Hall after a several-month stint in ECW.

31 - Mitsuharu Misawa defeats Toshiaki Kawada in a first round match on the Champion Carnival tournament in Hiroshima.

APRIL

1- The Super J Cup, this year hosted by Michinoku Pro Wrestling, kicks off before 4100 fans in Sendai.

7 - Naoya Ogawa defeats Shinya Hashimoto in a retirement match in the main event of New Japan's Tokyo Dome spectacular... Vader has to be helped from the ring following a match against Mitsuharu Misawa in Matsumoto. Vader sustained a litany of injuries, including a broken nose and torn ligaments in his elbow.

MASANORI SAITO 9 - Jushin "Thunder" Liger captures his second Super J Cup, defeating Cima in the finals of the tournament at Tokyo's Sumo Hall... Takao Omori upsets Steve Williams in the semi-finals of All Japan's Champion Carnival tournament in Sendai.

11 - Kenta Kobashi defeats Mitsuharu Misawa in the semi-finals of All Japan's Champion Carnival tournament in Kanazawa.

12 - Juniaki Kobayashi calls it a career, losing to Jushin "Thunder" Liger in his retirement match at Korakuen Hall.

15 - Kenta Kobashi wins the Champion Carnival tournament for the first time, defeating Takao Omori in the finals at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.

19 - New Japan star Masakazu Fukuda dies of complications from a cerebral haemorrhage at a hospital in Kesennuma. He collapsed in the ring after a match in the same city five days earlier.

21 - Funeral services are held for Masakazu Fukuda in Tokyo. Wrestlers and officials from New Japan as well as Wrestle Dream Factory, the small promotion Fukuda began his career with in 1996, attend.

24 - Weekly Fight Magazine in Japan reported that All Japan Pro Wrestling would split into to groups.

MAY

MASANORI SAITO 5 - New Japan draws 30 000 fans to the Fukuoka Dome as Kensuke Sasaki, wrestling under his old Power Warrior gimmick, defeats the Great Muta in the main event... H, formerly Hayabusa, defeats Masato Tanaka in the main event of a FMW show at Tokyo's Olympic Park Gym before 4200 fans.

7 - Takehiro Murahama upsets Super Delfin at Tokyo's Ota Ward Gymnasium before 2400 fans to capture the Osaka Pro Wrestling heavyweight tile.

12 - Manami Toyota retains her WWWA title defeating Ra Yuyu in the main event of an All Japan Women's card in Sapporo.

13 - Jumbo Tsuruta, arguably the greatest in-ring performer of all time in Japan, dies from complications after undergoing a kidney transplant operation in the Philippines.

14 - The Crush Gals, Chigusa Nagoya & Lioness Asuka, reunite for the first time since the late 80s to defeat Devil Masami & Akira Hokuto in the main event of GAEA's fifth anniversary show at Tokyo's Ariake Coliseum.

19 - New Japan's Best of the Super Juniors tournament kicks off at Korakuen Hall... Private memorial services are held for Jumbo Tsuruta in Tokyo.

26 - Kenta Kobashi retains the Triple Crown title against Yoshihiro Takayama in Niigata... Michinoku Pro star Wellington Wilkins Jr. is arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs past customs by airmail.

JUNE

2 - Osamu Nishimura returns to New Japan after an absence of one year, losing to Tatsumi Fujinami at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall. Nishimura has testicular cancer.

4 - Toryumon runs the biggest show in its history drawing 6500 fans to the World Memorial Hall in Kobe as Cima defeated Sumo Fuji in a hair vs. hair match in the main event.

9 - Tatsuhito Takaiwa defeats tag partner Shinjiro Ohtani in the finals of New Japan's annual Best of the Super Junior tournament in Osaka... Akira Taue and Toshiaki Kawada capture the All Japan Double tag team titles by defeating Takao Omori and Yoshihiro Takayama in the finals of a four-team tournament at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall. The titles were vacated in April by Vader and Steve Williams when Vader sustained several injuries in a match with Mitsuharu Misawa.

12 - Tokyo Sports newspaper confirms reports that Mitsuharu Misawa resigned as President and booker of All Japan Pro Wrestling, ending months of speculation about a split between the two parties.

MASANORI SAITO 16 - Mitsuharu Misawa holds a press conference at the Differ Ariake wrestling pavilion in Tokyo, announcing the formation of his own promotion, Pro Wrestling NOAH. Kenta Kobashi announces he will b leaving with Misawa and vacates the Triple Crown title. Motoko Baba, the owner of All Japan, holds a press conference of her own assuring the public that All Japan will not fold... Genichiro Tenryu dons a mask and wrestles under the name 'H', teaming with Hayabusa to defeat Kodo Fuyuki and Goemon at a FMW show in Tokyo.

18 - An estimated 5000 people attend the public funeral of Jumbo Tsuruta

19 - Nippon TV hold a press conference to cancel All Japan's Power 30 TV program, and sign a deal to broadcast Misawa's NOAH group.

21 - All Japan's final TV show airs on Nippon TV, ending a 28-year relationship.

25 - All Japan star Hiroshi Hase wins election to the Japanese Diet (the equivalent of the U.S. Senate)... Minoru Tanaka and Koji Kanemoto capture the IWGP Jr. Tag team titles from Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Shinjiro Ohtani in a match of the year candidate in Tokyo.

26 - Referee Joe Higuchi, a staple of All Japan and a member of their front office, announces he's leaving the promotion for Misawa's NOAH group.

30 - Johnny Ace, a regular with All Japan since 1988 and the foreign talent liaison for the company, retires and leaves the promotion to take a backstage job with WCW.

JULY

1 - The first ever card at the new Differ Ariake building is held as All Japan draws a sell-out of 2000 fans to watch Toshiaki Kawada defeat Masa Fuchi in the main event.

2 - After a ten-year absence, Genichiro Tenryu leaves New Japan and returns to All Japan during a show at Korakuen Hall. Tenryu shakes Motoko Baba's hand in the middle of the ring and addresses the shocked crowd... Naoya Ogawa vacates the NWA World title.

5 - Mexican promotion AAA runs its first show in Japan in years, as its annual TripleMania series of shows kicks off at Korakuen Hall.

9 - The New Japan team of Kendo Ka Shin and Jushin "Thunder" Liger defeat Michinoku Pro stars The Great Sasuke and Gran Hamada on a New Japan card in Hirosaki.

13 - Genichiro Tenryu defeats Hayabusa in the main event of a WAR show at Korakuen Hall.

15 - Pro Wrestling NOAH put tickets on sale for their first three shows at Tokyo's Differ Ariake in August. All three shows sell-out in less than 45 minutes.

20 - Mitsuharu Misawa wrestles his last match for All Japan at the Hakata Star Lanes in Fukuoka... Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima win the IWGP World Tag team belts from Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi in Sapporo. On the same show Tatsuhito Takaiwa beats Jushin "Thunder" Liger to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title.

MASANORI SAITO 23 - In his first match back with All Japan, Genichiro Tenryu reforms his famous Revolution tag tam with Toshiaki Kawada to defeat Stan Hansen and Maunukea Mossman at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.

30 - New Japan holds its first pay-per-view in company history as booker Riki Choshu comes out of retirement to destroy FMW founder Atsushi Onita in a barbed wire exploding death before 18000 fans at Yokohama Arena.

AUGUST

5 - Pro Wrestling NOAH makes its debut at Tokyo's Differ Ariake as Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama team to defeat Mitsuharu Misawa and Akira Taue in a best 2/3 falls main event match.

6 - Jun Akiyama scores his first singles win ever over Kenta Kobashi, defeating him by submission at Differ Ariake. NOAH would later broadcast both shows on pay-per-view on a taped delay basis... John Zandig is run over by a car driven by an opponent during a fire death match on a Big Japan Pro Wrestling card in Tokyo.

7 - New Japan's annual G1 Climax tournament kicked off in Osaka.

9 - Atsushi Onita does an interview with Gong magazine, the leading wrestling publication in Japan, saying he'd like to tem with Riki Choshu at New Japan's 28th anniversary show in October. They never team up.

11- All Japan's Masa Fuchi addresses the crowd at Tokyo's Sumo Hall during New Japan's G1 Climax, signalling the beginning of the historic working agreement between the two rival promotions.

MASANORI SAITO 13 - Kensuke Sasaki defeats Manabu Nakanishi in the finals on New Japan's annual G1 Climax tournament at Tokyo's Sumo Hall.

19 - Yoshihiro Takayama, Takao Omori and Satoru Asako form the "No Fear" heel clique at a NOAH show at the Differ Ariake... FMW's Hayabusa teamed with The Great Sasuke and Ricky Marvin to defeat Fuerza Guerrera, El Gladiador and Rocky Santana on a Michinoku Pro show in Yamagata.

20 - All Japan's first tour in the 'post-Misawa' era kicks off at Korakuen Hall.

26 - Atsushi Onita has a meeting with Motoko Baba in Tokyo, stating he'd like to return to the promotion he retired from in 1985.

28 - Shinya Hashimoto and female wrestler Akira Hokuto are inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Wrestling historians, promoters and reporters (including SLAM! Wrestling's John Molinaro) voted in the selection process.

SEPTEMBER

2 - In the first New Japan vs. All Japan match in years, New Japan's Masa Chono defeated Masa Fuchi before a sell-out of 16000 fans during an All Japan show at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall. In the main event, Stan Hansen teamed with Genichiro Tenryu to defeat Steve Williams and Toshiaki Kawada.

9 - New Japan holds a memorial show for Masakazu Fukuda in his hometown of Kuoha.

15 - The Crush Gals defeat Aja Kong and Dynamite Kansai in the main event of a GAEA show at Yokohama's Bunka Gym.

16 - All Japan's Toshiaki Kawada appears on a New Japan show in Nagoya, issuing a challenge to IWGP World Heavyweight champ Kensuke Sasaki. In the main event, the All Japan team of Masa Fuchi and Taiyo Kea defeat Masa Chono and Tatsuhito Goto... Pro Wrestling NOAH run their first live pay-per-view, selling out the Differ Ariake as Jun Akiyama and Yoshihiro Takayama defeat Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi in the main event.

17 - The Great Sasuke retains his NWA Middleweight title against British wrestler Robbie Brookside in Nihonmatsu.

21 - Hayabusa defeats Kodo Fuyuki in an 'electric-dynamite-cage-thunderbolt-death match' at a FMW show at Sapporo's Tsukisame Dome.

24 - NOAH makes their debut in Kyoto as Kenta Kobashi, Takao Omori and Takeshi Rikioh defeat Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa and Daisuke Ikeda in the main event... Jushin "Thunder" Liger appeared on an Osaka Pro Wrestling show, attacking Super Delfin following his match.

26 - Hayabusa and Kodo Fuyuki wrestle to a 60-minute draw on a FMW pay-per-view show from Korakuen Hall.

OCTOBER

Kengo Kimura, a major star for New Japan in the 80s, announces his retirement.

7- Vader makes his debut in NOAH, defeating Takeshi Morishima in Tokyo.

8 - Masahito Kakihara returns to All Japan, becoming the first wrestler to return to the promotion after leaving for Misawa's NOAH group... NOAH sells out the Bunka Gym in Yokohama as Vader teams with Too Cold Scorpio and Richard Slinger to beat Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa and Naomichi Marufuji in the main event.

9 - Over 64 000 fans pack the Tokyo Dome as All Japan's Toshiaki Kawada defeats IWGP World Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in the main event of New Japan's Do Judge!! spectacular. Sasaki vacates the title in a post-match press conference. On the under card, Shinya Hashimoto, returning from 'retirement', defeats Tatsumi Fujinami.

13 - NOAH makes its debut in Hiroshima as Jun Akiyama and Yoshihiro Takayama defeat Akira Taue and Kenta Kobashi in the main event.

14 - The tournament to fill the vacant Triple Crown title begins in Tokyo as Toshiaki Kawada defeats Steve Williams in a first round match.

21 - Genichiro Tenryu defeats Stan Hansen in the semi-finals of the Triple Crown tournament in Nagoya.

22 - Toshiaki Kawada defeats New Japan's Shiro Koshinaka in the semi-finals of the Triple Crown tournament.

24 - Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine in Japan releases its 1000th issue.

MASANORI SAITO 28 - Genichiro Tenryu defeats Toshiaki Kawada in the finals of the tournament to crown a new Triple Crown champion before 16, 300 fans at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.

29 - Minoru Tanaka defeats Tatsuhito Takaiwa to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title in Kobe.

Stan Hansen releases his autobiography.

NOVEMBER

3 - Tiger Mask and Gran Hamada win Michinoku Pro's annual Futaritabi Tag league tournament in Aomori.

6 - Osaka Pro Wrestling make their debut at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.

11 - Shinya Hashimoto is 'fired' by New Japan in what many believe will eventually play out as an angle.

17 - New Japan's annual G1 Tag team tournament kicks off in Shiojiri.

19 - All Japan owner Motoko Baba announces that Stan Hansen will be retiring at the company's Tokyo Dome show in January, 2001... All Japan's annual Real World Tag League tournament kicks off at Korakuen Hall.

MASANORI SAITO 22 - Yoshihiro Momota, the oldest son of Rikidozan and current front office member of NOAH, dies of liver cancer.

26 - Nippon TV airs a one-hour special on the life of Jumbo Tsuruta.

30 - Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Nagata defeat IWGP World Tag Team champions Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima in Hiroshima, Japan in the finals of New Japan's annual G-1 Tag Team Tournament.

DECEMBER

8 - Takao Omori pins Mitsuharu Misawa in a tag match during a NOAH show in Sendai.

9 - At a Los Angeles press conference, Antonio Inoki announces a Great Muta and Nobuhiko Takada vs. Don Frye and Ken Shamrock main event for his New Year's Eve U.F.O. pay-per-view from the Osaka Dome.

10 - Steve 'Dr Death' Williams and Mike Rotunda win All Japan's annual Real World Tag League tournament, defeating Toshiaki Kawada and Masa Fuchi in the finals at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.

14 - G-1 Tag League Champions Yuji Nagata and Takashi Iizuka wrestle All Japan's Toshiaki Kawada and Masa Fuchi to a 30-minute draw in the main event of New Japan's 2nd Judgement pay-per-view event in Osaka.

MASANORI SAITO 18 - Kazushi Sakuraba, a pro wrestler who worked mostly for mixed martial arts promotions, was named Wrestler of the Year by the Japanese Sports Media.

23 - Kenta Kobashi defeats Jun Akiyama in the main event of Pro Wrestling NOAH's Great Voyage pay-per-view at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum. On the under card Mitsuharu Misawa defeats Vader and Shinya Hashimoto makes his NOAH debut defeating Takao Omori.

26 - The Great Kabuki comes out of retirement for one evening, teaming with Yuji Kito on an IWA card at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

31 - Great Muta and Nobuhiko Takada defeat Don Frye and Ken Shamrock in the main event of Antonio Inoki's U.F.O. pay-per-view at the Osaka Dome. On the under card, Kazushi Sakuraba defeated WAR and Naoya Ogawa destroyed Tadao Yasuda.

FULL 2000 YEAR-IN-REVIEW COVERAGE

2000: The Year-In-Review
2000 Year in Review - Mexico
Top 10 stories in Japan of 2000
Top 10 stories in Mexico of 2000
2000 Year-End Awards




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