IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Mutoh vs Hawk - NJPW 7/13/95
Given down years for WWF & WCW and the fact that New Japan drew 50k+ on three separate dome shows in 1995, you could say that Hawk, muthafuckin Hawk, is challenging for the most prestigious championship in the biggest pro wrestling company in the world. That is surreal. Couldn't find it, but Keiji Mutoh ended Shinya Hashimoto about 1.5 year stranglehold on the IWGP Championship at 5/3/95 Fukuoka Dome Show. He proceeded to successfully defend his title against Hiroyoshi Tenzan who was getting a major push in 1995 with title challenges against both Hashimoto & Mutoh in '95, along with becoming Chono's #2 after Chono turned heel. Tenzan is the first native to be pushed in New Japan since The Three Musketeers, Sasaki & Hase broke out in the late 80s. Mutoh's second title defense comes against Hawk, who was not doing much as the Hellraisers wrapped up in late '94 and Kensuke Sasaki is back to just being Kensuke Sasaki.
The first ten minutes are brutally dull. It is basically an exhibition in who can sell less. I think in a weird way Mutoh wins. Hawk works holds. I mean seriously. Once Hawk comes flying off the top and injures his knee, this actually gets really good. Like surprisingly good. Mutoh works the knee really well foreshadowing his 21st Century persona with the figure-4, I also his signature elbow but landing it on the knee. I thought Hawk sold really well. Hawk blocks the back handspring elbow, but Mutoh elbows. Then Mutoh hits a picture perfect dropkick right to the mush. Mutoh is deadset on hitting this back handspring elbow, but this time hits the railing and then Hawk just clobbers him. Alright, I am digging this. Hawk hits a lariat off the apron. Then hits his Doomsday Device lariat from the top to ring and Mutoh takes a great bump. Damn good nearfall. Hawk gets a pair of powerbombs, almost good stuff. Mutoh hits his backbreaker -> moonsault, but only gets two. Then he hits an awesome missile dropkick to the back of Hawk and another moonsault and wins. Last five minutes was really entertaining wrestling. First ten sucked. Watch it JIP, they probably wrestled it with that intention of how it would be viewed. ***