My adventures in the land of All Japan Pro Wrestling’s past continue, this time outside of the glory years of the 1990s and into the dark days of the 2000s. From the establishment of the Triple Crown to the NOAH split, there really aren’t any title matches that I would consider bad. Some are certainly lesser than others, but at worst they were all right. Post-split is a different story, as All Japan’s roster gets pretty thin. A saggy Genichiro Tenryu and a Keiji Mutoh whose knees are held together with athletic tape and hope anchored the title scene until late 2003, and those matches were… well they happened. I preferred Tenryu’s stuff from that time to Mutoh’s, who was already relying on the shining wizard/figure four formula by that point. As it turns out, I find that formula really dull. In 2003, Toshiaki Kawada began the run that was probably intended for him during the ’90s, except he kept getting hurt. This match is the finals of a tournament to crown a new champion after Shinya Hashimoto vacated the title, and the start of Kawada’s 10 defence run as champion. Also, it’s really good.