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Thread: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-vfuYUq-sY

    Sasaki vs Kawada, New Japan 9/10/2000

    CONTEXT: With the formation of NOAH, All Japan and New Japan started a working relationship and this was the first major match of that. Sasaki comes in as Mr NJPW - he's the IWGP Champ and their biggest home grown star at this point in time. Kawada represents everything All Japan and was one of the few loyalists who stayed after the split. So this was a HUGE match and headlined at the Tokyo Dome.

    This is a true heavyweight epic and a war that delivers on the magnitude of the spectacle. Kawada is so, so great here. He is an all-time great seller and he is tremendous at putting over Sasaki's power, and I love how he later pays him back for the straight punches. Sasaki really brings it too and has a career-defining performance. His aggression and pride and willingness to punch Mr King's Road in the face really bring home the stakes of the match. Majority of the match is extended strike battles and they are excellent - both the absurd stiffness and the selling and emotion throughout. In a way, this is such a straight-foward and simple match, but everything is done with maximum drama. This has to be my favourite Sasaki performance ever - Kawada is leading him through things, but Kensuke brings heart and soul which makes this emotionally worthwhile. Him collapsing at points because of exhaustion is so great. Finishing moments are so epic - Kawada hits 3 gamingiri's and Sasaki won't go down, Sasaki blocks a 4th and goes for a lariat and ends up dying on his sword.

    This is such a ridiculous contrast to current NJ heavyweights. No one cared about athleticism or going long, this was a simple, hard-hitting heavyweight war with a tonne of heat and emotion. I loved this first time round and loved it again watching it now. This is both a career match for Sasaki, either his first or second best ever, and also a GOAT level showing from Kawada as he elevates Kensuke to his level. Off the top of my head I think this may be a Top 5 New Japan heavyweight match ever, certainly Top 10.
    Apologies because this is going out of order, but I watched this yesterday and thought it was really fucking good. I have never been too impressed with Sasaki, I think he's one of the weakest of the main event level guys of his time, but I was really impressed with him in this one. Something so simple as a shoulder tackle to knock Kawada off his feet managed to get a reaction and then they let it sink in for 30 seconds before restarting again with Kawada realising he's up against a strong mf'er in this one. Appreciated the context here that Sasaki is pretty much defending the honour of New Japan to a legendary figure from AJPW. Very different vibe to modern Puro main events. Really good stuff.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Glad you enjoyed it! Even if only one person is checking these out I'll consider it a job done. It also leads into today's match...

    Daily Motion
    ERROR: If you can see this, then Dailymotion is down or you don't have Flash installed.


    Kawada & Fuchi vs Nagata & Iizuka, New Japan 14/12/2000

    Following his loss to Kawada at the Dome, Sasaki vacated the title and a one night tournament was set up for the January Dome show for the belt. Kawada and Nagata were both in said tournament. This is also the first time Kawada has been in New Japan since the Sasaki match.

    As you'd expect, the crowd heat is huge here, and the New Japan boys are super fired up to defend their home turf. Nagata at this point isn't quite main title calibre, sort of upper-mid-card, but he doesn't hesitate to bring it to the guy who just knocked off the IWGP champ. The Kawada vs Nagata sections are great - Nagata constantly brings it, Kawada puts him back in his place, but every time Nagata is able to get more and more on him. Fuchi is also here and a brilliant shitweasel, I loved all his early stooging and him standing on Iizuka's face to stretch him out, such a tortuous looking move.

    The body of this becomes a southern tag match, with Kawada/Fuchi cutting the ring off and working over Iizuka. They have a bunch of double teams and lay on a beating. They tell a great story - the New Japan guys are out of their depth here, but they will keep battling until the very end. For Shin Nihon! Iizuka was a mid-card mainstray through the 90s who never left much of an impression on me, but he holds up his end of the bargain. Kawada is BITW level here, the way he sells Nagata's leg kicks late into the match to set up the big comeback is some great 'chink the armour' stuff - believably going from unstoppable asskicker to vulnerable. Fuchi's selling of exhaustion as we get deep into the match is also tremendous, and by the end everyone looks like they've been through a total war. They go the distance for a 30 minute draw, which is a bit underwhelming, but the NJ guys are elevated nonethless through the beating they were able to survive and then give back to the formidable All Japan team.

    I wouldn't rate this as high as Kawada vs Sasaki, but it's still a hell of a match. Epic, hard-hitting, tonnes of drama, great story, and plenty of emotion. By the end you want MORE, not less. An easy Top 3 career match for both Nagata and Iizuka and another tremendous Kawada show.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTy8a11JbTQ

    Kobashi vs Akiyama, NOAH 23/12/2000

    Similar in many ways to the first match but with more bombs. We get some test of strength stuff at the start, and both guys are really fired up and aggressive. Kobashi once again is pissed and wanting revenge, and lays it the fuck in with his chop. What really makes this interesting is that both guys use STRATEGY - Kobashi targeting Akiyama's neck, and Akiyama going for first the neck and then later the arm as well. Kobashi really works his holds, making a simple headlock feel like a nasty neck crank and making Akiyama work to escape. Lesser workers would simply have it as a rest-hold. We get some big fighting spirit spots early but otherwise both men's selling is pretty great throughout, and once he has the opening to target Kobashi's arm he really goes for it. Jun also eats a bunch of ROUGH suplex bumps, including a couple nasty ones on the ramp. Kobashi in kind also takes a big suplex bump on the un-protected floor.

    Despite all the physicality of the match (and there's plenty of it) I think thing that gets me most invested in how they really build the tension trying to hit the big moves. The struggle for control really makes the moves feel important and the resulting nearfalls more dramatic. They built to a big close and the finish sees Kobashi murder Akiyama dead with the Burning Hammer. Kobashi won the battle, but the war wasn't over, and he had to pull out the super finisher to get it done.

    I will re-visit the 2004 Dome match, but I think this is the best of their 3 NOAH matches. A physical, bone-crunching match with tonnes of bombs but also in-ring psychology. Great effort from both guys, who both came out looking like they'd struggle walking the next day.



    2000 ROUND-UP

    Highlights:
    - The All Japan split leading to the birth of NOAH - whether that's positive or negative is still up for debate
    - Akiyama being cemented as a bona fide top tier main event guy with career wins over Misawa and Kobashi
    - Kobashi rules. You already knew that but worth re-iterating
    - New Japan Juniors tags that actually ROCK
    - Kawada building his GOAT resume out by carrying Kea, Sasaki, Nagata and Iizuka to career highlight matches
    - The start of New Japan vs All Japan ft. the above
    - Young Lion Makabe

    My Top 5 matches:

    #1 Misawa vs Akiyama, AJPW 27/2
    #2 Kawada vs Sasaki, NJPW 9/10
    #3 Kawada/Fuchi vs Nagata/Iizuka, NJPW 14/12
    #4 Ohtani/Takaiwa vs Kanemoto/Tanaka, NJPW 25/6
    #5 Kobashi vs Takayama, AJPW 26/5
    Last edited by King Steventon; 03-31-2020 at 04:23 AM.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    It may just be that I completely overate this match but no mention of Marakami/Ogawa vs Hashimoto/Iizuka from the Jan 4th Dome show? Unfortunate. Still, Iizuka randomly being apart of a great tag team match type gets covered in the Fuchi/Kawada vs Iizuka/Nagata match. Classic bout, for sure. What a career eh? This match, the Jan 4th match as well as him getting killed by the Steiners in what maybe my favourite US tag match of the 90s.

    The Sasaki vs Kawada match is also a classic. It's excellent. I haven't watched it for a while but it's still pretty vivid in my mind. The story after the match with Sasaki giving up the title out of shame (and I think shaving his head although that may have come later) just adds a ton of weight to an already great match.

    I think I've seen the NOAH Akiyama/Kobashi matches before but I can't remember them. A nice little feud to really kick of NOAH from the first few shows with Akiyama turning on Kobashi.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Didn't rate that tag from memory but may be worth a re-visit at time point in this thread. I am always down for Hashimoto raging.

    Iizuka was a pretty average dude, he was just fortunate enough to be in the ring with some greats through his career. Still held up his end in those matches, but on his own he was never worth a look.

    SPEAKING OF HASHIMOTO RAGING....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSOHG2ie3h0

    Hashimoto & Nagata vs Misawa & Akiyama, Zero-ONE 2/3/2001

    The main event of debut Zero-ONE show, and Hash brings in his NJ buddy Nagata and the top 2 dicks in NOAH (Kobashi was out for the year) for a RED HOT inter-promotional war.

    Of course the first thing you notice, before anyone has even made their entrance, is the NUCLEAR crowd heat. Z1 was basically a glorified indy but this was a HUGE match for them to run.

    I don't feel like writing a lengthy review for this, just know that is is great and filled with tonnes of beef and hate and stiffness. Hashimoto doesn't even tagged in until over 5 minutes in and we get some great TAUNTING from both sides before then, trying to goad and rile the other team up. Misawa is a more reserved guy but I loved his 'dirt off the shoulder' brush-off of Nagata, such a great subtle dick move. Everyone is super fired up and brings it and beats the tar out of each other. You can tell the crowd was a mix of both New Japan fans and NOAH fans, because when Nagata breaks up a Tiger Driver he is met with a chorus of boos. My favorite moment was when Akiyama runs interference to break up a Hashimoto suplex attempt with a straight bitch-smack, and Hashimoto blows a gasket and beats the snot out of him.

    Misawa pins Hash off a back suplex in a finish - shockingly - clean but still feels like enough of a lucky/fluke win that Hashimoto is protected. Hash immediately gets back up and starts beating the shit out of the NOAH guys, no fucks given. Post-match is all tremendous shit as we get a pull apart brawl with everyone jumping in the ring to break it up. Naoyo Ogawa gets in the ring, talks some shit to Misawa, Misawa goes for him and we get a near riot. I can't speak Japanese, but I imagine the words exchanged here weren't flattering.

    All in, a great match that was so much fun to re-visit. 4 great workers all bringing it, inter-promotional beef, molten crowd heat and a wild post-match.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 04-01-2020 at 04:27 AM.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCOrMsc_Bcc

    Misawa vs Takayama, NOAH 15/4/2001

    Finals of the tournament to crown the first ever GHC Heavyweight Champ. Takayama had never held a singles title, but by this point had knocked off some big names and had only been pinned by Kobashi in recent memory, so he certainly belonged here.

    I also forgot just how kick-ass his entrance music is, some real Godzilla shit.

    This is some great Big Match Wrestling right here, and as you would expect scores high on the stiffness-&-bombs meter. From the early feeling out section, to the big Takayama beatdown on Misawa, to the exciting finishing run, it's all real good. Takayama was a pretty a elite worker on the same level of Misawa at this point and his big heat section is good - always keeping it moving and piling on the heat. He is also real good at making these matches feel heated - there is a cool moment where he gets in Misawa's grill and starts talking shit to him, only for Misawa to fire up and then they trade hard blows. Deep in the match Takayama busts open Misawa on the chin hardway with some nasty ground and pound, and Misawa's chest and neck are all covered in blood, a really gritty visual. End run is great and we get some really unexpected stuff when Misawa, back against the wall, starts trying to sub Takayama with a bunch of armbars. Final minute is some crazy rock-n-sock robots shit with Misawa killing Takayama with absurdly stuff elbows before having to pull out the Emerald Frosion big gun to get it done.

    NOAH in 2001 (and Japan in general) had a good amount of hidden gem matches, but not a lot of truly great stuff. This stands out as a puro MOTYC and a great one that delivered as a big title bout and was a brutal, physical war. Misawa rules, Takayama rules, this match rules.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I watched both Kobashi/Akiyama matches from 2000 yesterday and honestly found them to be a bit of a slog at times. Their first match starts a little livelier but they are both matches that do little for me until the final 5 minutes which are admittedly crazy hot stuff. Even some of the greatest wrestlers of all time aren't going to be that engaging to me when they spend so long on the mat doing headlocks and waistlocks. They've been two of my least favourite matches in here so far, I think I'll visit some of the shorter matches next.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed View Post
    I watched both Kobashi/Akiyama matches from 2000 yesterday and honestly found them to be a bit of a slog at times. Their first match starts a little livelier but they are both matches that do little for me until the final 5 minutes which are admittedly crazy hot stuff. Even some of the greatest wrestlers of all time aren't going to be that engaging to me when they spend so long on the mat doing headlocks and waistlocks. They've been two of my least favourite matches in here so far, I think I'll visit some of the shorter matches next.
    You're probably not going to enjoy their Dome match then either because that is a fairly large chunk of it.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCOrMsc_Bcc

    Misawa vs Takayama, NOAH 15/4/2001

    Finals of the tournament to crown the first ever GHC Heavyweight Champ. Takayama had never held a singles title, but by this point had knocked off some big names and had only been pinned by Kobashi in recent memory, so he certainly belonged here.

    I also forgot just how kick-ass his entrance music is, some real Godzilla shit.

    This is some great Big Match Wrestling right here, and as you would expect scores high on the stiffness-&-bombs meter. From the early feeling out section, to the big Takayama beatdown on Misawa, to the exciting finishing run, it's all real good. Takayama was a pretty a elite worker on the same level of Misawa at this point and his big heat section is good - always keeping it moving and piling on the heat. He is also real good at making these matches feel heated - there is a cool moment where he gets in Misawa's grill and starts talking shit to him, only for Misawa to fire up and then they trade hard blows. Deep in the match Takayama busts open Misawa on the chin hardway with some nasty ground and pound, and Misawa's chest and neck are all covered in blood, a really gritty visual. End run is great and we get some really unexpected stuff when Misawa, back against the wall, starts trying to sub Takayama with a bunch of armbars. Final minute is some crazy rock-n-sock robots shit with Misawa killing Takayama with absurdly stuff elbows before having to pull out the Emerald Frosion big gun to get it done.

    NOAH in 2001 (and Japan in general) had a good amount of hidden gem matches, but not a lot of truly great stuff. This stands out as a puro MOTYC and a great one that delivered as a big title bout and was a brutal, physical war. Misawa rules, Takayama rules, this match rules.
    Now this was GREAT. This was much more up my street. Misawa fighting back with his neck covered in blood was fantastic.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    RE: Kobashi vs Akiyama - I enjoy all their matches and rate them, but there's definitely downtime there. I'd agree with MC 16, I think the Dome match is probably the least of the 3 despite being the most famous and revered, and it has more lulls than the other 2.

    Glad to you enjoyed Misawa vs Takayama. I feel like if you weren't a Takayama fan before this thread, you'll 100% come out as one. He's easily one of my favourite workers of the decade.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGtK-51FGug

    Kawada vs Kojima, New Japan 6/6/2001

    More Kawada-based AJ vs NJ goodness. Kawada is no longer defeated in NJ as Sasaki got his win back over him to reclaim the title at the January Dome show (another very good match), but Kojima is still a solidly upper-mid-card guy so below him in the food chain. And yet, he still BRINGS THE GOODS. He is all fired up and brings it to Kawada from the off and in a way this is a bit of a star making performance for Kojima that showed he could be more than just a tag team wrestler. Got to love him mocking Kawada's stretches. In fact, Kojima is all over Kawada for almost the whole first half, and Kawada works hard to put him over. This may be one of the Kojima's best matches, he is given a platform to shine and he delivers. He's a really naturally charismatic and likeable guy and his he has enough credible offence in his arsenal to take Kawada to the limit. Great sequence deep in the match as he absorbs a bunch of lariats, fires up, blocks up a second the drills Kawada with one of his own for a HUGE nearfall. Of course the crowd is red hot and goes wild for Kojima hanging in there before getting put down.

    This wasn't quite MOTYC level but was still a blast to re-visit.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 04-03-2020 at 05:02 AM.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNg85R893Fc

    Tenryu vs Mutoh, All Japan 8/6/2001

    This is part of the NJ vs AJ fued, but more importantly this is during the start of Mutoh's Shining Wizard phase. He recently began this stylistic change a few months before this, and this was the biggest match to this point of this career resurgence. Think of his career in 2 phases - 90s Mutoh and 2000s Mutoh, different just like 90s Shawn Michaels is different to 2000s Shawn Michaels.

    The legwork > Shining Wizards formula is one that Mutoh would eventually run into the ground, but for context here it was fresh, and he himself has a lot more energy in his performance. In fact he brings a hot start to the match by immediately going for Tenryu at the bell. The first 5-10 minutes do go a bit slow and have some lulls, but once they kick it up a gear it's pretty great from then on. Mutoh, despite his overated-ness, was still super charismatic and does some nifty moves for a heavyweight (before the time when every heavyweight was a super athlete). Both guys bust out a bunch of un-expected stuff that make this feel like a big match. Tenryu does a suicide dive. Mutoh eats a brainbuster on the apron. Mutoh dragon screws Tenryu off the apron to the floor. Tenryu busts out a Texas Cloverleaf. Mutoh is focused on working Tenryu's legs throughout and that strategy gives us a good story, and Tenryu in retaliation starts attacking his legs in return. While Mutoh's personality and charisma really shine here, worth noting Tenryu's effort to put this over as a big match. Against mid-carders he probably wouldn't do anything more adventurous than chops, punches, kicks and powerbombs. Here he is digging into his arsenal and doing a spider german suplex and a freaking top rope hurricana. If you do the big moves every match, they mean nothing. Save the big moves for the big matches, they make it feel like the stakes are high. I also love how Tenryu blocks the first Wizard attempt, punches Mutoh in the face, then kills him with a brainbuster.

    Some dead air early, but this held up. This is easily the #1 or #2 best match Mutoh had of the second phase of his career and it came right at the start of it (I will also revisit their 2002 match). Two guys with tonnes of personality delivering in a big title match with plenty of bombs, big spots, and a clear story going through it.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEA_2MfRMu4

    Tenryu & Fuchi vs Kawada & Araya, All Japan 30/6/2001

    If you're reading this thread, you should know how awesome Tenryu, Kawada and Fuchi are. They are all-time elite wrestlers. You may not know how awesome Araya was. Nobutaka Araya was a chunky mid-card heavyweight of a similar build to Ishii. He was a part of Tenryu's WAR promotion through the 90s and came over with him to All Japan when he rejoined the fold. And he was awesome.

    This has a 'feeling out process' to start off but it's not long before Kawada and Tenryu are throwing down. But once Araya comes in, that is when this becomes fucking awesome. Within about 30 seconds of him tagging in, Tenryu BLASTS him with a ridiculous punch right in the fucking eye socket. Araya becomes a bloody mess and this sets the tone for some great pro wrestling. After skimming through the tedium of Wrestlemania, it was so fun to watch this kind of match in front of a hot crowd. Tenryu and Fuchi working over Araya's bloody eye socket is great pro wrestling. Araya manning up and bringing it to Tenryu is great pro wrestling. Kawada and Tenryu beating the shit out of each other is always great pro wrestling. Araya's big fired up comeback ruled so hard and I lost my shit for him clocking Tenryu with a running headbutt. The finish is a super satisfying pay-off.

    This is much more 'great hidden gem' than 'serious MOTYC' but this ruled hard and was just the palette cleanser I needed today. Nobutaka MF Araya, son.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 04-05-2020 at 07:14 AM.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNg85R893Fc

    Tenryu vs Mutoh, All Japan 8/6/2001

    This is part of the NJ vs AJ fued, but more importantly this is during the start of Mutoh's Shining Wizard phase. He recently began this stylistic change a few months before this, and this was the biggest match to this point of this career resurgence. Think of his career in 2 phases - 90s Mutoh and 2000s Mutoh, different just like 90s Shawn Michaels is different to 2000s Shawn Michaels.

    The legwork > Shining Wizards formula is one that Mutoh would eventually run into the ground, but for context here it was fresh, and he himself has a lot more energy in his performance. In fact he brings a hot start to the match by immediately going for Tenryu at the bell. The first 5-10 minutes do go a bit slow and have some lulls, but once they kick it up a gear it's pretty great from then on. Mutoh, despite his overated-ness, was still super charismatic and does some nifty moves for a heavyweight (before the time when every heavyweight was a super athlete). Both guys bust out a bunch of un-expected stuff that make this feel like a big match. Tenryu does a suicide dive. Mutoh eats a brainbuster on the apron. Mutoh dragon screws Tenryu off the apron to the floor. Tenryu busts out a Texas Cloverleaf. Mutoh is focused on working Tenryu's legs throughout and that strategy gives us a good story, and Tenryu in retaliation starts attacking his legs in return. While Mutoh's personality and charisma really shine here, worth noting Tenryu's effort to put this over as a big match. Against mid-carders he probably wouldn't do anything more adventurous than chops, punches, kicks and powerbombs. Here he is digging into his arsenal and doing a spider german suplex and a freaking top rope hurricana. If you do the big moves every match, they mean nothing. Save the big moves for the big matches, they make it feel like the stakes are high. I also love how Tenryu blocks the first Wizard attempt, punches Mutoh in the face, then kills him with a brainbuster.

    Some dead air early, but this held up. This is easily the #1 or #2 best match Mutoh had of the second phase of his career and it came right at the start of it (I will also revisit their 2002 match). Two guys with tonnes of personality delivering in a big title match with plenty of bombs, big spots, and a clear story going through it.
    This was decent. I've never seen either man wrestle in the 2000s before, so while you say Mutoh's formula would become run into the ground, it wasn't too overplayed for my tastes. I was not expecting the top rope rana.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    So I've seen all of these matches before and pretty much agree with your thoughts throughout. I have been dealing with some crazy stuff making me less active but I have a whole book of ratings and if anything stands out as worth noting difference-wise in the matches so far I'll bring it up later but will follow along truly from here on. I liked Iizuka a lot actually and would co-sign that Dome tag main event MC brought up. That was great, especially the crowd. You could see Iizuka was never gonna be a big star with such a generic character and lack of charisma but as a worker he was rock solid.

    Love so many of these matches, especially Misawa vs Akiyama & Takayama and the Junior Stars tag. I also have fond memories of the AJW cage.

    On a grander scale I honestly think the AJPW split was a great thing for Puroresu overall, which I know is controversial. But AJPW for all its greatness was getting stale and doing retreads of things that worked in the past, and NJPW was heading towards Inoki Madness. I liked AJW at this time because they were actively moving away from the 90s and doing things differently headed into the turn of the century although ARSION has better in-ring action for the most part & JWP is up there though I'm sure most of that stuff is gone now. That cage was the culmination of a near year long story as well and wonderfully elevated both Nanae & Momoe. NOAH coming in switched everything on its head and helped Juniors gain credibility even more than in NJPW in the 90s and influenced nearly everything to today. My only regret is that Kiyoshi Tamura never ended up going to AJPW as I think his legend would have blown up much more like it deserves and would have had many awesome matches, but then again with Muto taking over who knows what would have happened. It was an unbelievably influential time and I love revisiting it so I'm very excited about this project.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I think I'd agree with you on the All Japan split. While it was still delivering great matches until pre-split, they definitely got a bit boring booking wise. The split and subsequent re-birth of All Japan bringing back guys like Tenryu and then later signing Mutoh and Kojima have them a shot in the arm, and NOAH did a lot of good things that pre-split All Japan didn't (juniors vs heavyweights, the creation of newer stars). I think the problems started to come for both in the later part of the decade when the older guys started getting too old and they hadn't done a good enough job investing in the next generation/the next generation not being as good as the one beforehand.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qY0Uee7-Is

    Misawa vs Akiyama, NOAH 27/7/2001

    The main event of NOAH's biggest show to date and first show at Budokan. Misawa beat Taue in his token first defence and also beat Akiayama earlier in the year in the semi-finals of the title tournament (both of those are also pretty good).

    Watching this so close after their 2000, this is good in many of the same ways as that one, but not as good as that. That is hardly a knock and this is still a great match, but just not a classic. A well laid out Big Title Match that escalates throughout to a big, big close. Akiyama in control early starts to get a bit too slow, but then Misawa says enough of this shit, gets super grumpy and starts blasting him with elbows. Misawa rules. This has plenty of the stiffness and big bombs you want from this, including Akiyama teasing killing Misawa with a suplex off the ramp in a dramatic moment. I also like how, once he realises he is getting rocked too much with the elbows, he counters into a crossface to gain some breathing room. End run is appropriately big and we even see Misawa bust out a freaking top rope Tiger Driver, which is mad.

    Whilest this isn't quite a classic or MOTYC level, it's still great and a match worthy of being Akiyama's first ever title win.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Super Tiger Driver was admittedly awesome but I don't think they built to it as well as they could have, and it felt more like they had this big moved saved to throw it out when necessary rather than it being organic. I also think it's impossible to really appreciate this match in hindsight considering they went from Akiyama as Ace back to Kobashi and IMO Akiyama never recovered. Since this match was supposed to be about passing the torch (like should have happened in 1997 but Misawa sadly didn't have the same touch as Jumbo had towards him) why was this so heavily focused on Misawa being dominant? I liked the idea of the armwork and it looked good, but hot damn this didn't feel like a changing of the guard at all. That said, it's still a great wrestling match on its own and obviously there's a lot to like. The last couple of minutes are freaking incredible specifically. I liked the 00 match a lot better tbh but there's no shame in that as that's arguably the best match of this whole decade. My take is: Well worth a watch, strong and great match, but could have been better in context.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I'd agree with that, and I think that's also the general consensus on the match. Standalone it's great, but it didn't quite hit the notes it needed to hit to achieve what they needed to in terms of long-term booking and the bigger picture.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU6KwRuJoz8

    Mochizuki, Darkness Dragon & Kanda vs CIMA, SUWA & Fuji vs Magnum TOKYO, Dragon Kid & Saito, Toryumon 14/8/2001

    From memory this was one of the best Toryumon/DG matches, and does it hold up? Well, 'best' is a relative term I guess and hard to say without watching others to compare. Giving it a re-visit I still enjoyed it a lot without ever being blown away by it.

    It is hard to fully express why this match stands out without drawing comparisons to what I dislike about the majority of other DG matches. Despite their reputations as go-go-go spotfests, they often tend to have a bunch of dead air, or go too long with a bunch of bloat, or both. This match straddles both of those lines, having the action be fast and steady with no lulls, and having a good end run that doesn't overstay it's welcome. A lot of DG guys also fell into adopting really convoluted/indyrific movesets - here pretty much everything is basic offence- strikes, dives, suplexes, powerbombs, ranas, but all executed well and it feels more organic as a result.

    There is some amusing comedy spots at the start but they don't over-egg it. A stooge heel gets chumped, and they move on. The 3 vs 3 vs 3 format is used as well I can imagine it can be, everyone teams up and everyone backstabs. Trust no one. This is elimination rules and Crazy MAX go out about 2/3 in, making way for a more focused finale between the champs and TOKYO/DK/Saito. Everyone through the match is fired up, working hard, working at pace and hits something cool when it's their turn to shine. The only guy I thought stunk was Darkness Dragon and his over-reliance on lazy low-blows. Going less than 20 minutes also helps us get in and out without reaching exhaustion, but by the same token it never becomes anything particularly epic.

    If you are a fan of the DG go-go-go style, give this a watch. If not, just know this is better than most.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I've always thought this match was pretty overrated by people who liked it and hyped it as the best Toryumon match. I think a big reason why is because it was the first Triple threat Trios match they had and it became a staple of the promotion in the DG era. I generally dislike the DG ones because exactly what you said, there's always a ton of downtime. There was in this too. You could tell there was a skeleton of an awesome match here but every time something cool would happen there would be a boring heat segment that would lose my interest. That said there was some good stuff here, I was particularly impressed with Dragon Kid & SUWA who both played their opposite roles beautifully and Kid really went all out here. I thought TOKYO was the most schizo wrestler here, at times looking fantastic and then by the end showing sloppiness. Everyone else was pretty decent, I enjoyed all the Crazy MAX team actually.

    There are some ups and downs here, but ultimately you could see why this style became so popular within DG later on. Dragon Kid never becoming DG champ is nuts, he was better than like 99% of their guys that have come along and been pushed above him.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I was probably one of those who held it up as one of the best Toryumon match, and again, 'best' is a relative word, and even though I still really enjoyed it I can 100% see thinking it's overrated now. Not sure how it would stack up against the ROH Supercard Of Honor match. I didn't feel there was much downtime here, though.

    I'd agree with Dragon Kid, he was always one of the most over guys they had and shined in these matches. Maybe it's size thing?



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo8gqpNQN1M

    Jado & Gedo vs The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask IV, M-Pro 19/8/2001

    Really strong Southern style tag match with the blend of big spots and dramatic nearfalls you'd expect from these guys at their best. Jado & Gedo are really good as your heel tag team, lots of crowd heat and cheating and general nefariousness. Tiger Mask plays face in peril as they cut the ring off and keep Sasuke out of the match until the big hot tag. We of course get one nutty Sasuke spot and he goes for a senton off the top to Jado on a table on the floor, and completely overshoots onto bare concrete. The man in indestructible. Finishing run is great and has a good mix of saves and kick-outs. The crossface save was probably my faourite. By the end we get the heels just piling it on to Sasuke with bombs, until TM4 runs in for a save and hits a big dive to the floor. GREAT finish as Sasuke goes to the top and we get a dastardly heel move to throw him off balance straight into the Complete Shot.

    A great mix of Juniors flying action and heel tag team wrestling with a strong finale.

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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    I'm not as into Sasuke's antics as most people but I laughed at Sasuke completely missing the dive to the outside. I liked Tiger Mask in the match as I always liked him before he went to NJPW & his motivation died and really enjoyed seeing him in M-Pro. Although I was never a Jado & Gedo fan they did a good job here, I think your early description of this as a Southern tag is pretty spot on. I really prefer my wrestling more straight up than the cheating and all that but M-Pro is practically built upon strong heel work and you can tell the crowd totally brought it here. This is a weird one. I enjoyed the whole match and actually pretty much everyone in it was up and down but ultimately brought more good than bad to the match but I never felt it was great match itself overall until the end with the finish. Still, like the Toryumon match I can definitely see why people like these kinds of matches so much.

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