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

  1. #101
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCpAZaM__O8

    Morishima & Marufuji vs Akiyama & Hashi, NOAH 30/3/2003

    Continuing the build to a big Morishima/Marufuji vs Akiyama/Saito tag title match, on paper this is an easy token win for the challengers as Hashi is the obvious fall guy. But we all know it's about the journey, not the destination.

    The start of this rules so much. Marufuji steps to Akiyama, Hashi steps to Morshima who proceeds to then murder him and a brawl breaks out. Hashi is awesome as always, just a little firecracker who is always moving forward and getting his ass kicked for it. Marufuji misses a dive on him, and then Akiyama and Hashi make him pay dearly for his disrespect. Most of the match from there is Sternness cutting the ring off and working this as a traditional tag match with Marufuji as FIP. I have been put off by Marufuji for most of the last decade, so rewatching him it's refreshing to see how good he was then. He really uses his athleticism to make all the offence on him look as big as possible - he gets ridiculous height on a simple back body drop that makes it look like a killer move. He also brought the heat - I love how even late in the match, Marufuji still takes the first opportunity to sneak attack Akiyama and lay him out. Hashi busts out some nasty bombs, like the diving headbutt to the floor and a reverse DDT on the ramp. Morishima is a total fucking wrecking ball and him vs Akiyama and vs Hashi is both awesome. The final minutes go as you'd expect but are still really exciting.

    Cap it off with a fucking awesome post-match as Marufuji gets in Akiyama's grill again, lays him out with a Shiranui, then him and Morishima stand triumphantly over their fallen opponents.

    This rules. From memory, the eventual tag title match was solid, but this as the 6-man are GREAT lead-in matches that I'd say are a lot better. This really stands to Zero's point about Akiyama's head being a trophy in itself with how much his opponents were bringing it to him. All four of these guys ruled and matches up well with each other.

  2. #102
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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    Kobashi vs Honda, NOAH 13/4/2003

    This is a match that needs context to understand why it's so great. This was Kobashi's first title defence, and it's against his stablemate and #2. A first title defense is usually a token win in Japan, couple that with the fact that Honda spent most of his career pre-Burning as a low-card geek, and on paper this is a cakewalk for Kobashi. However, in the months leading to this Honda had been quietly building up an arsenal of credible finishers, and he has a legit Olympic wrestling background to boot, so when the bell rang, what we got was Taemon fucking Honda having a career performance and taking Kobashi to his limit in a way no one would have expected.

    The first 10 minutes are pretty much all on the mat - it's a bit slow going and I'd forgive some people if they thought it was dry, but it serves it's purpose in the story of the match. Honda's strength is his wrestling and he'd get eaten alive trying to throw strikes with Kobashi. Things pick up about a third in when Honda catches Kobashi with a sleeper and a nasty German suplex onto the ramp, and from there on he believably controls Kobashi for basically the rest of the match. By targetting his taped arm and using his array of suplexes and unconventional offence he successfully neutralizes Kobashi for most of the match.

    The final 3rd is when this becomes truly epic as Kobashi starts coming back and both guys are unloading the big guns. Honda really does have a career defining performance here, being really fired up, bumping right on his neck like a loon for Kobashi's suplexed, and using his disverse offence to believably get nearfalls on Kobashi. We get a top rope German Suplex, a great Spear, him swarming Kobashi on the mat with submission attempts, a huge flash cradle nearfall, and suddenly you realise the crowds are going mad and TAEMON HONDA is looking like he could beat Kobashi. Kobashi of course gets W in the end with a Burning Laiat, but even before then he has this great "what's it gonna take" face.

    This was a great match. I will forgive those who think the first half is dry (personally I enjoyed them working the mat as a change of pace), but the storytelling of the match and the performances all make it worthwhile. Honda delivers a career defining performance in the biggest match of his career, and Kobashi to his credit gives him all the platform he needs to have that performance and makes him look like a stallion on defeat.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 05-04-2020 at 07:04 AM.

  3. #103
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNi5NDs-O9U

    Taue vs Nagata, NOAH 6/6/2003

    This match is tremendous, just a barrell of awesomeness. Nagata comes in having just lost the IWGP belt and is looking to bounce back strong, but Taue is nobody's rebound fuck, especially not New Japan trash's.

    Nagata is super fired up and super grumpy here, which makes Taue punking him even more fun. Old Man Taue might be on the best at mixing up his moveset to make a match feel big, and here he just throws bombs and unloads hell on Nagata basically all match. We get a big tease of a Chokeslam off the apron, a chokeslam onto the bare floor, and later a top rope Chokeslam. Nagata does some sublte heeling, such as refusing to let go of an armbar, and draws massive heat for it. One of the best things about this match is that it has a very clear face vs heel story. Nagata targets Taue's arm, which ultimately pays off with the finish, but not before Taue survives a bunch of Nagata's big guns and we go far beyond "token win". The struggle over the submissions is great, and I LOVE Taue's wobbly leg big man selling as he refuses to go down.

    This is one of the most straight-forwardly fun, balls out entertaining matches on 2003. The crowd rocked, Nagata was great in his role, and Taue~! was awesome. Taue's best match of the 00s and a career highlight for Nagata too.

  4. #104
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pzd2I--zoM

    Akiyama & Saito vs Kobashi & Honda, 6/6/2003

    Another example of NOAH's long-term storytelling paying off. Following Honda taking Kobashi to the limit in their title match, they now take on Kobashi's nemesis for the tag titles. There were many Burning vs Sternness tags in the build up to this, with Saito and Honda both pinning each other in different matches, so while they are still 'below' their partners in the hierarchy, anyone could pin anyone.


    All of the Kobashi vs Akiyama sections in this, and there is a lot, are really great and some of their best stuff in NOAH against each other. They always bring the beat. This works a lot like a typical tag match, with Sternness working over Honda and isolatiing him. It starts a bit slow with Akiyama mostly working holds rather than beating him up, but it's still solid. It does pick up as they start double-teaming him on the floor with some bombs, and it shifts gear when Akiyama goes for Kobashi and lays him out too.

    The last third of this is all fucking stellar and some of the my favoruite action in NOAH history. Akiyama gets killed with a suplex on the ramp. Honda and Saito battle in the ring with Honda busting out all of his tricks, the camera has a great wide show where you can see Kobashi and Akiyama fighting on the floor and Kobashi gets suplexed hard. We get to a super dramatic close as Sternness double team Honda with Kobashi having to make saves, only for Honda to turn the tables on Akiyama and start dishing out hell on him, as Kobashi holds back Saito, leading to Honda getting a shock win over Akiyama.

    There were a few slower patches early, but otherwise this held up as being tremendous. Both from an action point from of view and a storytelling one, this scores high. Tonnes of hard-hitting action, hellacious suplex bumps, and huge drama down the stretch. The story of Honda stepping up, surviving the ass-kicking, then getting the biggest win of his career, is one of the biggest and most satisifying pay-offs I can remember in Japan. It feels like the culmination of a guy's career. Not only that, it really throws some gas on the Kobashi vs Akiyama fued, as Akiyama loses the belts and it wasn't even Kobashi who had to pin him! I get the impression I rate thisone higher than most, but that final third really is fucking stellar.

  5. #105
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1q0hQva1G8

    Mochizuki, Dragon Kid & Arai vs Horiguchi, Saito & Yokosuka, Toryumon 29/6/2003

    Hell of a match. We get lots of FUN stuff early on, with peak-Genki being a wonderful stooging weasel. Love him scurrying away from trouble and him over-selling a simple hair pull, what an amusing pussy. I also rate Saito being a hype man and getting the crowd really fired up from the apron with a vuvuzela. Middle section introduces a SHOCKING amount of structure and story as M2K isolate Arai and target his hand, and we get a pretty strong heat section built around a body-part getting picking on. They proceed to continue this strategy of isolating each of the Do Fixer guys in turn, which gives us a bunch of cool triple team sequences and a lot of heat and drama through the middle. Final 3rd is a total barnburner and DG/Toryumon wrestling at it's absolute best. Great, furious-paced action, everyone having fun character moments and big, dramatic nearfalls and saves. Arai has long been one of my favourite DG guys, who never gets much talk, and he was awesome thoughout. Love him selling the hand deep into the final parts of the match and switching headbutts. We get a huge nearfall of a friggin' count-out tease as Arai struggles to make it to his feet before a 10 count, I cannot remember seeing DG ever get drama out of that before. We get some inteference from I think Mori(??) to level the playng field as M2K start cheating near the end, leading to a bonkers final minute with DK hitting a crazy diving rana to the floor and Mochizuki using M2K's own weapon against them to set up the finish.

    This was pretty excellent, and off the top of my head this might be the best Toryumon match ever. It's certainly up there with the best of the Toyrumon/DG promotions. Great action, shockingly focused and structured through the middle, tremendous final stretch and some fun character stuff thrown in throughout. Highly recommended for DG and non-DG fans.

  6. #106
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_rQ94yQbNg

    Marufuji & KENTA vs Liger & Murahama, NOAH 16/7/2003

    Finals of the tourney to crown the first Jr Tag Champs. This is mostly built around KENTA vs Murahama and Marufuji vs Liger, and both pairings deliver what you want from them. KENTA and Murahama are stylistically similar little ass-kickers and both beat the tar out of each other. Liger and Marufuji are the more charismatic guys and most of their stuff is Liger trying to put the young phenom in his place.

    I loved all of the Marufuji-Liger stuff. Straight out the gate Liger calls out Marufuji and makes it feel like a beef. Marufuji gets a one-up on him early and delivers a top rope asai moonsault to him, which still looks spectacular. When Liger starts killing him with bombs later in the match, Marufuji really throws himself into everything and splatters himself for Liger's offence. Prime Marufuji was a bump machine. This is a 25 minute match, which is a bit long and there some sections where it felt like they were filling time - mostly when the NJ guys were isolating and working over KENTA - but even those sections are still solid and not boring. Final third gives you what you come for, a big action-packed, dramatic home stretch. Prime KENTA feels really explosive with some of his big combos and shots, and I love the Doomsday Busaiku Knee as a move.

    This was a great match, definitely one of the better workrate heavy Jr tags I can remember, with good actions, stiffness, personality, and a solid underlying story to it. Both a very important bout and maybe a Top 3 match for for the KENTAfuji team.

  7. #107
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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    Akiyama vs Tenzan, New Japan 17/8/2003

    G1 Climax Finals. Tenzan at this point is at risk of forever being a career journeyman - never winning a singles title or G1 beforehand despite having plenty of chances. Akiyama is a former GHC champ and has a far more impressive resume, so once again we have strong NJ guy vs outsider heat mixed with the underdog storyline.

    Love how fired up Tenzan is through all the early stuff, his emotion really makes this feel like an important match from the start. This is a long match, and in a way felt similar to a lot of more recent big NJ matches, in that there is a fair bit of time-filling and padding out early on, but it finishes really strongly. Would be interesteding to see what newer fans think as I'd compare this similarly to say, the Tanahashi vs Ibushi G1 Finals, only with a different story being told and the action being more heavyweight style than athletic (Ok maybe not that similar, but you get me point).

    Akiyama for his part is fine. He holds the match together from a structure point of view, but otherwise doesn't do anything you wouldn't see in any other big Akiyama match, he mostly serves as a base for Tenzan to have his match and performance. And Tenzan does that - I'd say this was a career performance and match for him. His brings tonnes of charisma, personality, and fire to get you emotionally invested, and I am always a fan of his big staple offence - the various headbutts and the monogolian chops. I like how early in his shine part of the match, he draws Akiyama into a headbutt exchange, which he obviously wins. Tenzan in control is where things start to get a bit dull, he struggles to fill time in an exciting way, so when Akiyama whipes him out with a big diving knee on the floor and takes over it's a welcome move. Another cool Tenzan moment later is when the ref is checking on a downed Akiyama and Tenzan won't let up with the headbutts, it really puts over his urgency to capitalize when Jun is down.

    The final act delivers what you want from a big, heavyweight clash. Good struggle for control over the big spots, some STIFF knees from Akiyama, and good drama - all of which the crowd was rocking for. Tenzan manages to survive the Wrist-Clutch Exploder, which only a few people ever did, then comes back and wins with is recently debuted Anaconda Vice.

    I enjoyed this one a lot. It does go too long and there is some filler early, and to that extent there are times where it feels like a good match being elevated by a great crowd. BUT Tenzan delivers a clutch performance in a career match, with a super satisfying second half and big finish. Where does this rank in terms of all-time G1 Finals? Not sure. Top 3 feels like a stretch. I could see it maybe as Top 5, but certainly in the Top 10.

  8. #108
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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    Italian Connection vs M2K vs Do Fixer vs Crazy MAX, Toryumon 30/8/2003

    This is widely regarded as the best Toryumon match, and you can see why. It takes the big crazy multi-man formula and juices it up to 12 guys. I couldn't possibly reel off all the spots that were fun or amusing, but there are so many and they work at 100 miles per hour, especially at the start. I enjoy the focus on the big personalities in the match, like Genki being a wiley motherfucker, or the always awesome Don Fuji. The highlight was probably the Don Fuji vs everyone chop battle sequences blown up with him vs 9 guys, all while CIMA and SUWA egg him on from the apron - it was tremendous. We get all the signatures spots from these guys - the corner splash trains, the everyone grabs a submission on someone spot, the giant suplex battle, etc all taken to the extreme. I said it beforehand, but the tone of the match being FUN rather than taking itself too seriously is what makes it enjoyable. We do get a good end run between TOKYO and Milano and a fairly dramatic finish with them struggling over a submission.

    Personally I prefered the 29/6 tag, but this deserves its rep. It takes the Toryumon multi-man crazy spotfest formula and explodes it to the nth degree. Make you own mind up if that's something you want to watch or not.

  9. #109
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YowrztCWqQ

    Marufuji & KENTA vs Kanemaru & Hashi, NOAH 12/9/2003

    This one also rules, and I am so glad that it holds up. It's the first title defence for KENTAfuji, and also plays into the bigger Burning vs Sternness faction war. Everyone is super fired up and brings it.

    We get a hot start with KENTA going for both guys. Kanemaru is a guy who could often sleepwalk through matches, but I was pleasantly surprised how good he was here, in fact this might be his best performance. He was fired up, brought the heat, was always moving forward, and really worked with a sense of urgency with everything he did. His timing on running interference down the stretch was really spot on. This is similar to how most Jrs tag go - the first 2/3 are GOOD but not GREAT, but they build to a big final run which delivers. We get a decent heat section on KENTA, as Hashi drops him with a nasty Reverse DDT on the apron and Kanemaru slams him off the ramp to the floor. It's nothing that will make you forgot the Midnight Express, but there is a structure there. The hot tag to Marufuji is more lukewarm than hot, they really could have done more to tease and build to it, but he injects some energy into the match and whipes out both guys with a spectacular dive.

    The last third is all pretty great and top tier juniors action. Plenty of unexpected moments, great action, and everyone is working with both urgency and the intensity that you still feel the beef there. I also liked how they were still getting nearfalls off of things like roll-ups as well as the bombs, and they make really excellent use of saves rather than kick-outs for the big nearfalls. Despite the length and how epic they are going, nothing feels too much or erroneous. Both teams have some cool teamwork, I always love the Doomsday Busaiku knee, and we get an excellent KENTA vs Hashi sequence for the finish with KENTA blasting Hashi with strikes and Hashi going out on his sword.

    I was sceptical how some of these big Jr tags would hold up, and while still feels like it follows the trope of being all about the big final act, this held up for me. The first half has enough solid content and beef that even the quieter sections are worthwhile, and the big final act really is fucking big.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 05-11-2020 at 07:32 AM.

  10. #110
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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    Morishima vs Yone, NOAH 1/11/2003

    Brief thoughts for a brief match. This is a smash-mouth stiff-fest. I am a low man on Yone, but he steps up and brings it here for a title match with Morishima and makes it feel like a big deal. This is massively helped by going 12 minutes rather than say 22, as the action is compact, tight, there's no dead air, and they manage to go BIG at the end while ending it at the right time. Both guys stiff the crud out of each other, we get some bombs, then there's escalating offence and some strong nearfalls towards the end. Yone tees off and looks like he could have KO'd Morishima with some of his kicks (Morishima certainly sells it like that), and he also manages to hit the freaking Muscle Buster on the 300lb guy. Top it off with a ridiculous Backdrop Driver finish, and we got a winner.

  11. #111
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4gXifKtAAQ

    Kobashi vs Ogawa, 1/11/2003

    On paper, Ogawa has a less than 1% chance of winning this, but it's about the journey, not the destination.

    I absolutely love Ogawa in this match, be isn't a stikes and bombs guy, and brings something completely unique to the big NOAH match formula. Straight at the bell his cheapshots Kobashi and starts building heat and being a complete dickbag. He employs the strategy of trying to *out-wrestle* Kobashi by using his speed and wiliness. He starts picking apart Kobashi's bum leg and working over the knee - this is to an extent blatant filler and never really comes into the finish, but it does serve as a believable way for Ogawa to be competitive and control large parts of the match, so it makes perfect sense. I love Ogawa cockily egging Kobashi on - and I love even more the result of that! Pissed off Kobashi is the best Kobashi, and he spends 90% of this match raging at Ogawa's bullshit, and the moments he makes him pay are so much fun.

    Both guys play their roles perfectly - Kobashi will murder a fool, Ogawa is a pos weasel who gets his ass kicked. We get some more "sports entertainment"-y stuff (well, by NOAH standards) as there's a ref bump, and Ogawa uses the opportunity to smash Kobashi's leg with the ring-bell. Kobashi then makes him pay by really violently posting him, leading to Ogawa blading big-time (how often does that happen in NOAH?), and Kobashi having some great punches to his bloody face. All of this is tremendous.

    Kobashi gets a comfortable and obvious win, but the ride there was so much fun because of what Ogawa brings to the table. My only negative comment is that is goes a bit too long and they could have cut it down a bit. Otherwise this was great, and something really different to the usual NOAH big match. Ogawa's best singles match and probably a Top 3 Kobashi title defence.

  12. #112
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Hashimoto vs Tanaka, 7/11/2003

    This is similar to their 2002 match, but also shows progression from then. Thematically similar in that it's a pitbull nipping at the heels of a giant grizzly bear, and is ridiculously stiff. But the progression is in how much more offence Tanaka is able to get in on Hash, especially down the stretch.

    Similar to the first match, Tanaka brings it straight from the bell and is always moving forward and attacking. His problem is that Hashimoto is freaking Hashimoto. The moment Hashimoto throws his first strike it becomes clear he has some much more power than Tanaka, they are just different levels. One Hashimoto chop or kick is worth more than three of Tanaka's. Tanaka is hitting Hash really fucking hard here, to the point where Hash's nose is busted up hardway, but still Hash can (and does, repeatedly) put him down with one blow.

    Whereas the 2002 match felt like a complete decimation towards the end, this is more competitive and Tanaka gets a couple big offence runs on Hash, including a powerslam, sweet backfist and a frogsplash. When Tanaka kicks out of a big DDT, Hash looks frustrated. The end is more destruction, Tanaka collapses on his feet, the ref counts to 10, but before he gets to 10, Hash chokes the motherfucker out, just because fuck you. Stone cold.

    When I watched these originally I preferred this match because it had more Tanaka offence and it had that sense of progression, but now I think the '02 match is better. The violence was more harrowing and dramatic. Both matches are great though. Absurdly stiff and violent, but with stories that are compelling because of the one-sided-ness of them. A lesson in wrestling hierarchy and progression.

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

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    Takaiwa & Hoshikawa vs Togo & Hideka, 26/12/2003

    After the success of NOAH's Junior Tag division, Z1 tried to replicate it. This is the finals for the first champions, and also the best match the division ever produced.

    Hosh and Hideka had been having an one-and-off again rivalry through the early years of Z1, in most of the matches where Hideka works over Hosh's legs. This continues that theme but then pumps into a energetic juniors tag with both guys teaming with a big slugger. The match starts with Hosh hurting his leg and his opponents picking it apart, which both guys do well. Hideka ties him up in knots and Togo does some dastardly shit. He tries to bring a chair into play for a cheapshot, only for Takaiwa to foil him and absolutely cream him with it, busting him open. Takaiwa punching Togo in his bloody face rules. Pretty much everything Takaiwa does in this match rules - he is used best as a tag team wrecking ball, and here is just killing dudes with stiff chops and bombs.

    This isn't quite as good as the best KENTAfuji tags, but there's a lot of different flavours of wrestling going on here at once to enjoy. Hideka vs Hosh has the leg-work story. Hosh does a decent enough job of selling the damage, if it's a bit spotty at times. Dig how he can't hold a suplex pin because of the bad leg. We get Togo getting bloodied up and being all firery. Takaiwa wrecks dudes. We get some good drama down the stretch as nearfalls come from the saves rather than kick-outs, and the finish is very cool. Hideka has Hosh trapped in an ankle lock and Togo hits him with a diving senton for good measure.

    Not as good as the top NOAH Jr tags it was trying to emulate, but still a lot of good stuff going on here. Fans of Jrs wrestling will not come away disappointed I think.

    ---------


    AND that wraps up 2003 for me. I think I will be taking a short break from this thread to avoid burn out before picking up 2004. 2003 saw NOAH really become the premier wrestling promotion in Japan, with both the introduction of the Jr Tag belts changing the game for that division as bringing KENTA & Marufuji to the forefront, and Kobashi's big title run. 2004 is another really strong year to follow on, with Kobashi's reign becoming, for my money, the best major title reign of the last 20 years (it's that or Danielson's) with defences against Saito, Akiyama, Taue and Takayama all worth re-visiting. 2004 also has, in mine and many other's people opinions, the best G1 Climax ever with the emergence of the new era three mustekeers (Nakamura, Tanahashi, Shibata) all getting pushed to main event spots.

    2003 TOP 5:

    #1 - Misawa vs Kobashi
    #2 - Kobashi vs Honda
    #3 - Kobashi/Honda vs Akiyama/Saito
    #4 - Nagata vs Taue
    #5 - Do Fixer vs Shin M2K
    Last edited by King Steventon; 05-15-2020 at 07:57 AM.

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