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

  1. #121
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    Great! Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as I did. KENTA vs heavyweights was reliably great and there will be more of that to come.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_ziw-wv9aU

    Kobashi vs Takayama, NOAH 25/4/04

    When people use the phrase “slobberknocker”, this is one of the first matches that come to mind for me. This is a the unstoppable force vs the immovable object, a heavyweight war between two goliaths.

    Unlike in 2000, Takayama is now an established main event level guy in Japan, having held the IWGP title and a couple of shots at the GHC belt. On top of that, Kobashi had held the belt for over a year now, so there was every believable chance Takayama could have been the guy to dethrone him. The atmosphere is real big league for this, both guys are really intense and in the first couple of minutes they both attempt and tease some big bombs. It goes without saying that this is hellaciously stiff, every chop, kick and knee looks and sounds brutal. It’s a point I’ve made in this thread before but the pure physicality of these top end NOAH heavyweight wars is really striking in comparison to a lot of more modern guys.

    Similar to their 2000 match, Takayama leans into the heel behaviour and targets Kobashi’s arm again, forcing him to adapt. For a guy who’s offence is heavily reliant on chops and lariats, this makes him particularly vulnerable and his selling of the damage to the arm is all pretty strong. Takayama kills Kobashi with a german suplex from the apron to the floor at one point and I love the visual of Kobashi desperately trying to scramble away from it. Kobashi is forced to use his good arm and headbutts, and unlike in 2000 they are able to get legit heat and drama out of Takayama trying to sub him out. The final third of this is so big time, with huge suplexes dumping each other on their necks, bone-crunching strikes, Kobashi doing the epic desperation lariat with his bad arm, and an incredible moment where Takayama just starts shoot punching Kobashi straight in the face. The finish is one of the biggest crowd popping moments in NOAH history – Kobashi can’t lift Takayama for the Burning Hammer, can’t beat him with Lariats with the bum arm, so busts out the Moonsault, a move he hasn’t used since before the AJ split, for the first time in years to get it done. The crowd pop and reaction once he calls for it is electric. Takayama took Kobashi to his absolute limit, dragged him into deeper waters than anyone else to this point, and Kobashi still had enough to gut it out and overcome it, even if it took him busting out a move he hadn’t used in over 4 years to get it done. Both guys come out looking like world beaters.

    This is such a great match and a heavyweight war in the truest sense of the phrase. For a long time I held this as my #1 NOAH match of all time – having watched it in close proximity to Kobashi vs Misawa I think it falls slightly to #2 after that, but man alive is this still one of the very best matches of the 2000s and of either man’s careers. My 2004 MOTY.

  2. #122
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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

    Akiyama vs KENTA, NOAH 14/5/04

    Unfortunately only 240p exists on youtube.

    Super simple match. We know Akiyama vs Juniors is awesome, we know KENTA vs heavyweights is awesome, so yes those two together makes an awesome match. KENTA is relentless in his aggression here, even before the match officially starts he attacks Akiyama in the entrance way and starts bringing it to him. Akiyama responds by beating seven shades of shit out of him all around the arena before they even get in the ring. Once they get in the ring Akiyama is just torturing KENTA with nasty holds and some absurdly stiff knees and boots. KENTA takes his man-sized beating but keeps moving forward. I love how even when he start straight punching Akiyama in the face, Jun just grits his teeth through it before putting him down. We are in an out in under 15 minutes which is the optimal time for a match that is so one-sided.

    This is textbook NOAH 101, heavyweight vs juniorweight action that was reliably awesome, between two guys who excelled in this role. And so very, very stiff. Make sure you stick around for what happens after the match too.

  3. #123
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited


    Fujita vs Tanahashi, New Japan 5/6/04

    Someone is going to accuse me of trolling that the first Tanahashi match to pop up in this thread is a match where the pretty boy upstart gets demolished by an MMA monster.

    Some context here: If your only exposure to Kaz Fujita is his recent NOAH comeback run, you’ve missed out as the guy was pretty awesome in his original pro wrestling run in New Japan. He was part of a group of guys who at the time were doing both pro wrestling and legit MMA, which we now call Inoki-ism, and it caused a whole bunch of problems for New Japan. One of those problems was that Fujita was just too legit and ended up leaving pro wrestling to do MMA full time, which is a massive shame because he was a hell of a talent. This match was for the vacant IWGP belt as they had stripped the previous champ Bob Sapp for losing a MMA fight… to Kaz Fujita. This is Tanahashi’s first title shot, and while he was being pushed as part of the future of the company along with the other ‘three musketeers’, he had roughly 0% chance of winning this match.

    That said, the match rules. Fujita is basically the prototype for 2010s Brock Lesnar as this unstoppable, legit phenom and all round scary motherfucker. In fact, there are so many similarities here I’m not sure Brock hasn’t just watched a bunch of Fujita tapes. The way he just laughs off Tanahashi as he beats him down, cockily pinning him with a knee across the neck, the brutal knee lifts, it’s all there. Tanahashi spends most of the match getting mauled, but he gets to show heart and make a couple big offensive runs and they are pretty great. Early he catches a knee lift into a dragon screw before hitting a big tope, catching Fujita off guard and making you think for a split second he won’t get railroaded. Late in the match he is able to get in the Dragon Sleeper, a flash pin attempt and a string of great looking german suplexes. It’s just about enough for him to come out of this match looking better than he did coming in, almost catching the phenom with a surprise win. We get a superb nearfall near the end as Fujita punts Tanahashi in the skull and Tanahashi is just about able to beat the 10 count as the crowd rally him to his feet. The finish itself is a TKO as Fujita repeatedly soccer kicks Tanahashi’s head in, which feels a little flat, but when you consider that’s how he beat Sapp in a legit fight, it works.


    This is a really simple, flat out enjoyable match thanks to the story and 2 guys involved. This is probably my fav Fujita match and the first legit great match for Tanahashi. And here’s a point I haven’t dummed on enough about – it goes less than 15 minutes, and yet it still feels big league and contains all the drama and excitement you want from a main event title match. No one wanted to see Fujita go 20 minutes, everyone knew that, so we got a match that played to his strengths and made his up-and-coming opponent look strong in defeat.

  4. #124
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C47lGbGBT0

    Takayama vs KENTA, NOAH 27/6/04

    This is exactly what you expect, and yes it is a fucking blast. 2004 Takayama = proven greatness. KENTA vs heavyweights = proven greatness. This is a very similar match to Akiyama vs KENTA, but I'd say this is better as Takayama spends less time cranking KENTA in holds and more time trying to prematurely end his career by smashing him into a million pieces. Despite being a foot shorter and 50kg lighter, KENTA doesn't hesitate to disrespect Takayama, shunning his handshake and taking it to him from the bell. The size differential here really is something, it reminded me of one of those PRIDE freakshow fights where they'd pit a 7 foot superheavy against Fedor or Minowa, and it really is the story of the match. KENTA is a pitbull puppy - aggressively nipping at Takyama, but still a pup - while Takayama is a fucking grizzly bear who can and does whipe out KENTA in one blow. They work this almost like a quasi-MMA fight, mostly trading shots in stand-up, and it gets full marks for both intensity and stiffness. In a wild moment, Takayama picks KENTA up above his head and wrecklessly tosses him to the floor outside. KENTA must have slept with Takayama's daughter or something judging by the kicks Tak was dishing out here, the audible thuds are just sick. KENTA does get in a bit of offence once he uses his speed and is able to start rocking the big man, and the layout of the match is perfect. KENTA comes in with no chance, gets destroyed early, but then is able to not only grit it out but full on take control of the match before getting put down. And boy the finish - good grief, I don't think I've ever seen a more violent worked strike than that. KENTA looked like he should have got a brain scan after that knee.

    Post-match, Takayama raises KENTA's hand and puts him over, which was a resounding endorsement. This is exactly what this match should achieve - KENTA is young and getting better, he can't beat Takayama now, but he can hang with him, and maybe in the future he could beat him. 2004 was the year KENTA really broke out from just being a junior and became one of the most exciting workers in the world, and this along with the previously mentioned tag title and Akiyama matches was another major stepping stone in his career. It's short-ish, but good lord was the violence tremendous and did Takayama make him look like a future star.

  5. #125
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q73w2ETqlbI

    Kobashi vs Akiyama, NOAH 10/7/04

    When I started this thread I wasn't actually planning on revisiting this match, but seeing as I covered their previous 2 bouts and it is one of the biggest (the biggest?) match in Japan in the decade, it's worth another look. Not only was this the culmination of everything NOAH had been building towards since Akiyama turned on Kobashi on the very first show in 2000, but it was the main event of NOAH's first (of only 2) Tokyo Dome shows. This was their Wrestlemania epic.

    Re-watching this so close to their previous matches, this feels very similar thematically. They were long, slow-paced methodical matches, and this is too. By long, I mean 35 minutes, which was longer than most NOAH title matches at the time, but not that long by current standards. There are some lulls in action but by and large the first 2/3 are pretty well worked and have lots of good content while saving most of the big stuff for the final act. We get all the same stuff as previous matches, a feeling out process with a great test of strength sequence and some good strike exchanges. This is very much a match where both guys are slowly breaking each other down and there's a fair amount of working holds, but the structure is pure Kings Roads in how they have to really battle to transition and take control of the match. Kobashi's chops are as stiff as ever, and Akiyama mixes up his knee-based offence nicely, including a big kneedrop off the top across the apron.

    The match is mostly famous for the big last act and the bumps taken. Kobashi suplexes Akiyama off the apron to the floor and it looks devastating. Later, Akiyama hits an Exploder Suplex off the second rope to the floor, once again leaving Kobashi to take the nastiest landing in a big title match. Does the final stretch go into overkill? I'd say it's appropriate for the magnitude of the match. Kobashi survives the Guilletine Choke, kicks out of a top rope Exploder and the Wrist-Clutch variation. He counters the Sternness Dust super-finisher into a nasty Brainbuster. Akiyama kicks out of the Burning Lariat and the newly re-introduced Moonsault before getting put away with the Burning Hammer. There is one Fighting Spirit no-sell sequence which I wasn't too hot on, but otherwise the finishing stretch hits the right notes for Big Match Wrestling. Post-match, Akiyama gets a standing ovation and the two rivals shake hands in a very cool moment BUT - here's the problem.

    With the power of hindsight, I think most now would agree Kobashi going over here was the wrong call. He had had a lengthy, crowd-pleasing run, and the whole story of Kobashi vs Akiyama set up from the first show to this point was about the passing of the torch, and when it came to it, the torch stayed with Kobashi. There has been plenty said over the years of the long-term implications of not making Akiyama 'The Man', and whilest I don't think that's a big knock on the match itself, it definitely was the wrong call and hurts the overall story-line. That said, this is still a great match, one I'd dare say I enjoyed more upon revisit without the expectations of a ***** match (which is what Meltzer gave it). It's hard to compare to the other 2 from 4 years earlier, because structurally and thematically they are all quite similar. This one has the biggest spots and bumps, but also is also the slowest. It's still well worth a watch for puro fans both for the historical significance and because it's a quality match, though I don't think it'd crack my Top 10 for the year.

  6. #126
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited



    Nishimura vs Kanemoto, New Japan G1 Climax 8/8/04

    This show, oh man. For my money, the 2004 G1 Climax was the best G1 ever with a bunch of awesome, diverse matches. This show alone was so strong I'd call it one of the single best shows New Japan ever had. This is the first of 3 matches from this show I will be revisiting.

    Context: Kanemoto got in by winning the BOSJ. On paper, Kanemoto should be the underdog as he's a junior facing an established, highly skilled heavyweight, however in reality Nish is a perennial mid-carder and Kanemoto has both the technical skill and striking ability to hang with him. This was never going to be a match that made a difference in the bigger picture, but it has a great story to it.

    Nish is able to control things early on, rocking Kanemoto with hard uppercuts and taking him to the ground easily, and I love the way he gets a huge reaction from something so simple as a head-scissors counter. However it isn't before long that Kanemoto is able to take over and not only control the match but flat out dominates Nish. This is a great Nishimura performance as he works from beneath and really sells big for all of Kanemoto's big impact spots like the facewash and senton and makes him look like a threat. Nish gets sent to the outside and Kanemoto keeps the pressure on by leaping over the ref to dropkick him before hitting a plancha. The final stretch is so much fun, they get a tonne of drama out of all the counters and create the feeling that Kanemoto has the answers to all of Nish's last ditch moves. He counters an abdominal stretch attempt into a pin attempt, counters a sunset flip into an ankle lock. We get some big drama as Nish is able to survive an ankle lock where Kanemoto ties up both legs, and then survives a moonsault after. The finish itself is brilliant, Nish is able to pull out a counter to Kanemoto's counter to his counter and sneak out the win.

    This was such a blast to rewatch and a hell of a match. Great story, great technical wrestling and counters, Nishimura really put Kanemoto over strong here, and by doing so both guys came out elevated and got a standing ovation. This is what the G1 should be all about.

  7. #127
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited



    Takayama vs Sasaki, New Japan G1 Climax 8/8/04

    They had in the '02 G1 which was notable for it's stiffness, but I always preferred this one. You get plenty of hard hits and heavyweight clobbering, but also some big spots and it's generally a 'bigger' match despite clocking in still around 15 minutes. First few minutes are some feeling out process stuff, which is fine, but once they get rocking this is a lot of fun. Sasaki in particularly threw out some unexpected stuff like a diving dropkick and a big dive off the top to the floor(!) late in the match. This is all about the clobbering though and you get your fill of that, with there being one particularly great exchange in the middle where they are trading big blows and being all manly before selling the exhaustion of it all. Final minutes are pretty huge as Takayama kicks out of the NLB and is able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Real good match, not quite the barn-burner I remembered it being, but still a total blast, gives you exactly what you want from it, and feels pretty big league without overstaying it's welcome.


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


    Nakamura vs Shibata, New Japan 8/8/04

    That this main evented a show over Takayama vs Sasaki shows the direct of travel in New Japan at this time, as they were fully committed to pushing these two (and Tanahashi) as the new "three musketeers" who would lead the company into the future. This is a real unique match, almost feels like a real hybrid of styles. It has that mixing of shoot-style strikes and flash submissions attempts with traditional pro wrestling structure and set-ups that defines 'Strong Style'. I can imagine new fans in 2004 watching this and having their minds blown. The first few minutes they do a flashy chain wrestling sequence then seamlessly scramble on the mat, trying to pass guard. It's the kind of thing that could (and has in other cases) feel a bit jarring but these two guys are so authentic in this style it all feels natural. After several minutes of scrambling on the mat, Shibata is able to nuke Nak with a backdrop driver and start beating the crap out of him. From there we get a match of hard hits, big suplexes and flash submission attempts. It's a fairly brief match, even shorter than Takayama vs Sasaki, as Shibata gets a win that is both decisive and sort of a flash pin as well. This was Shibata's biggest win to date of his career and his celebration suits that. It's one of the big pro wrestling disappointments that Shibata left New Japan in 2005, because even though they had positioned Nakamura and Tanahashi above him, they clearly saw as a big part of the future and he would have no doubt been given the IWGP belt before too long. As it was, this is a highlight of his first run there.

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


    Tenzan vs Nakamura, New Japan G1 Climax 15/8/04

    The 2004 G1 was notable for a few reasons, one of which was the format of the last night which had quarter-finals and semi-finals as well. This was a quarter-finals. These two had met twice previously, with Nakamura winning both, the first time being him winning his first IWGP title from Tenzan who himself was only in his first reign. However, whilst on paper it might look like Nakamura had Tenzan’s number, Tenzan had a far strong G1 and at this point in his career was very much still in his peak.

    We get a hot start as, straight off the bell, Nakamura catches Tenzan with a flying armbar and almost subs him in under 30 seconds. But once we get past that, the match turns into a completely one-sided beatdown from Tenzan on Nakamura. Tenzan really lays it in here and seems to be working stiffer than normal and he busts Nak open hardway with headbutts (it looks ugly) and then picks him apart by headbutting his knee to take away his legs. Early career Nakamura looks like such a sleaze-bag and has a very punchable face, so seeing the massively over Tenzan avenge his previous losses and beat the crap out of him feels really cathartic. I enjoy Nak’s vocal selling of the beating, and the few flurries he’s able to get in where he capitalises on Tenzan’s mistake he hits with a sense of urgency that feel like he could still win at any time. Deep in the match he counters the Anaconda Vice into an Armbar and the crowd lost their shit. Tenzan avenges his previous losses and continues with one of the biggest runs of his career. Not sure this holds up as a real top tier match but it’s a strong effort from both guys and I thoroughly enjoyed it this go round.






    Tenzan vs Tanahashi, New Japan G1 Climax Finals 15/8/04

    Despite being the more established guy, Tenzan comes in somewhat as the underdog. He had to go through Nakamura in the aforementioned match, then Shibata too in the semis to reach this match. Tanahashi on the other hand only had to go through a semi-final, which was a 6 minute match against Tenryu which he managed to survive relatively unscathed. Tanahashi comes in also with the most momentum he’s had at this early stage in his career, getting more wins in the G1 than anyone else and beating everyone in his block…. Except Tenzan.

    Honestly, re-watching this back it’s hard to pick out specific moments or sections that stood out, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s just really well done Big Match Wrestling. It’s laid out with a feeling out process leading to both guys taking turns to control things before going into a big home stretch. Throughout we do get an interesting clash of styles as Tanahashi uses his superior athleticism while Tenzan is all about toughness. Despite the lack of memorable moments the content is all pretty good – solid strike exchanges, some big suplex bumps, it’s well paced and both guys keep things moving without any dips in action. The big finale is pretty big-time which both guys putting over the emotion and importance of the match, some cool counters and huge nearfalls off of finishers, submissions and flash pin attempts. Tenzan gets to survive Tanahashi’s Dragon Suplex (his then finisher) and Tanahashi kicks out of the Moonsault. Great struggle over the finish too as Tanahashi tries and tries to get out of the Vice before tapping out. Similarly, I’m not sure this is still quite top tier, especially compared to the stuff NOAH was putting out at the time, but it stands out in New Japan’s year. There’s a cool present vs future story here – Tanahashi would become the face of the company, but for now Tenzan was still the daddy – and they pulled off a satisfying big match that delivered what you want from a G1 Finals.


  9. #129
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited



    Tamura vs Hiroyuki Ito, U-Style 18/8/04

    This is brilliant and a real sleeper match of the year. Classic underdog story told via the medium of shoot-style. Tamura is the long-standing ace of shoot-style and best of a generation. Ito is a mid card dude, considerably less experienced (this was his 11th pro wrestling match) and on paper he has zero chance. But straight from the bell he comes out guns blazing and is all over Tamura. Within minutes he forces Tamura to use 2 rope breaks and the rest of the first 3/4 its pretty much all Ito putting Tamura in danger and tricky situations. Tamura is able to weather the storm and start bringing it back, but even then it’s Ito who scores the first knockdown on him. Tamura is forced to really turn it on and by the end we have some of the most dramatic minutes of any shoot-style match, as Tamura – beaten and exhausted – is just pouring it on Ito, who as long as he is standing and swinging still feels like he has a puncher’s chance. When it’s over, we have one of the very best underdog shoot-style matches ever. Ito really brought it here and Tamura was superb in making him look like a threat and making this match exciting. While it’s a coin toss between this as Tamura-Kosaka for best U-Style match, I feel like this is something any wrestling fan could enjoy.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqNVKVr06ME

    Kanemaru vs Low Ki, NOAH 10/9/04

    Hey, it’s a lengthy juniors singles match that not only doesn’t suck, but is actually really good! I wonder why that is. When I talk about guys being able to carry a match through sheer force, this is the type of match I’m talking about. It is almost comical how much of a passenger Kanemaru is here, but no matter because Low Ki is a fucking elite level wrestler. This is the biggest match Ki had in Japan, getting a title shot at Budokan Hall, and he gets to show all his wares. We get a real tour-de-force of Low Ki: stiff kicks and chops ripping into his opponent, funky submissions, big highspots, the Phoenix Splash, Ki Krusher, and Tidal Wave kick. The crowd at the start of this match is so dead, but Ki brings them into it and by the end there is some pretty good heat for the escalating nearfalls. They do some vague psychology with Ki targeting Kanemaru’s arm with submissions at the start leading to him not being able to lift for the Brainbuster later, but it’s really an afterthought. This is all about Low Ki showcasing himself in a big match situation, and that alone is strong enough to deliver a good match. Upon revisit I’m not sure it’s a GREAT match, but it’s almost certainly the best GHC Jr title match without KENTA and a great Low Ki carryjob.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W6S2vCUEkk

    Misawa & Ogawa vs Saito & Inoue, NOAH 10/9/04

    This is the second of 3 matches I’ll be revisiting from another very strong NOAH Budokan Hall show, and it is a hell of a polarizing one. I have seen people who totally adore this match, and some who think it’s tedious and boring. While I’m closer to the former, I do understand the latter. What I love about this match is just how unique it is. There have been plenty of underdog stories in wrestling, but the Masao Inoue story feels unique even within that. Inoue was a curtain-jerking, low-card comedy heel his entire career, and he basically lucked his way into this title shot, but by God he’s going to give it his all in the biggest match of his career! What makes this endearing is just how utterly ineffectual Inoue is. He has no big strikes, no high impact offence, no athleticism and no technical ability. The majority of his offence is low-end tactics like eye rakes and crappy looking forearms, but that’s why this match works. Inoue gives maximum effort and is able to duck and dodge to survive far longer than he has any right to.

    Inoue also brings some comedy to the table with some genuinely funny moments built on his out of his depth he is. I loved Saito coming into the ring to kick him to try to fire him up after a long beatdown, and all of Inoue’s flopping about whenever he goes down. Saito is really the glue that holds this match together, not on the same level as Misawa but still with plenty of firepower he is the one who believably turns the tide and hangs with the champs, allowing Inoue to catch his breaks. This has a lot of similarities to the KENTAfuji defense despite the radically different opponents – this also has Misawa & Ogawa in the roles of overdogs beating down their opponents, and it also feels a bit padded out in the middle for the sake of going long. They could have cut some time out, but I guess Inoue going half an hour with the champs is a win in itself. It has to be said, even in a total tomato can defense like this, Misawa had his working boots on. We go get one big fire up from Inoue near the end and he manages to get to survive some big nearfalls before eventually falling. The action ranges from slow to really fun and it is a long match with some dull patches, but the unique story, career performance from Inoue who sucks but gives it his all, and strong performances from the supporting cast all get this a big thumbs up from me. It won’t be for everyone, but for those who dig it, it’s a total sleeper match.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8Z1n9T7P8M

    Kobashi vs Taue, NOAH 10/9/04

    Old Man Taue is one of the very best Old Man Wrestlers ever. He was physically past it (and awkward to begin with), but had not only the charisma but the smarts to pull out some pretty epic big match performances deep in his career. He understood that if you want to make a match feel special and important, you have to go the extra mile and pull out things you wouldn’t normally do in your standard match, and he was great at mixing up his offence and pulling surprises out of the bag. Kobashi and Taue didn’t clash as much as any other combination of the All Japan Four Pillars, so I feel pretty confident in saying this is their best match together even at this advanced stage in their careers.

    Within the first few minutes Taue plants Kobashi with a flurry of offence and whipes him out with a huge tope, which apart from being crazy for a guy like Taue to hit, makes this clear – he ain’t here to fuck around and be another token title defence. And it’s really Taue who makes this match. Kobashi is here doing Kobashi things, certainly not a passenger, but he’s giving his opponent the platform to have a show-stealing performance. The first half does drag a bit, there is still the solid Kings Road structure and stiffness, but an extended Kobashi control section isn’t lighting the world on fire. Taue does some legwork, which while it leads nowhere, its an effective strategy for him to take control of the match. When this match start getting real good is when they start dropping the bombs and landing the big heavy blows. Taue really pours it on Kobashi in the final third, hitting him with a Chokeslam on the ramp, a huge back suplex chokeslam off the apron to the floor (another huge Kobashi title match bump), and some more unexpected stuff like a rana, big splash off the top and a vertical suplex chokeslam. While I don’t think many people bit on Taue getting the win, he was really going for it and leaving it all out there in the ring. He survives enough of Kobashi’s big bombs and it takes a Burning Hammer to put down the gunslinger for good.

    Not a perfect match as the first half drags after the hot opening section, but still a great match thanks to a big time effort from Taue. Kobashi’s section in control was kind of boring, but he did a good job as playing a foil for Taue to have a late career defining performance with. When I first saw this I thought it was a 2004 MOTYC, which upon revisit I’m not sure I’d rate it that highly, but still another strong notch on one of the best title runs of the last 20 years.

  13. #133
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mLhGIr3h7U

    Kobashi vs Saito, NOAH 24/10/04

    A few lines on Akitoshi Saito. He was never a main event level guy like Kobashi, Misawa, Akiyama, etc. but he was a great B+ player. And I mean that as a big compliment – he was a awesome utility guy who, whilst not a top tier star, could be plugged into a number of supporting roles and be trusted to deliver, whether it was one of the many tag teams he was in, in the many Sternness multi-man tags, or as a B-Level title opponent, such as here. Very underrated worker.

    Coming into this no one expects Saito to be the guy to dethrone Kobashi, but he still turns out a hell of a match and we get yet another career defining match in this Kobashi title run. Kobashi for his part is similar to other defences – not that exciting when controlling large parts of the match, but working really hard and providing the physical effort for his opponent to paint their match on his canvas. And in the biggest match of his career, Saito brings the goods and does what he needs to do to make this not only competitive, but genuinely fucking exciting by the end. His arsenal is full of stiff strikes, nasty suplexes and other bombs which he uses to believably control Kobashi for a lot of the match. If you’re reading this thread and keeping tabs on the Kobashi super-bumps, he takes an absolutely terrifying bump on a suplex/brainbuster on the apron where he lands upside down across his shoulders/neck. I remember the first time I saw that it was a huge ‘holy shit’ moment, and even now I was still stunned Kobashi wasn’t instantly crippled by it. Terrifying.

    Saito does a great job working Kobashi over, at one point targeting the arm – which while it wasn’t a big part of the match, was enough to lead to him countering the machine gun chops leading to a tremendous flurry of strikes of his own. Even in a B-Level defence, Kobashi really puts Saito over and comes across like he’s really being taken to the limit. I love a moment where Saito just spends a second too long taunting and Kobashi quickly dumps him with a backdrop suplex out of desperation. As the nearfalls escalate, so does the violence, and this is horrendously stiff and brutal in parts. By the end, Kobashi is blowing a gasket and so pissed off at how much Saito has got in on him, he’s straight punching the guy in the chops, blasting him with headbutts to the back of the head, and he kills him for the finish with a disgusting brainbuster. This is a match that doesn’t get much play online, sort of like Saito in general, but it absolutely over-delivers and actually held up better than some of the other big matches I’ve revisited in this thread. Saito had 0% on paper of actually winning, but that didn’t stop them from having a hell of a match.
    Last edited by King Steventon; 10-11-2020 at 08:52 AM.

  14. #134
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    Re: Steve's Coronavirus boredom Best Of 2000s Japan matches revisited

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


    Kawada vs Shibata, New Japan 3/11/04

    BONUS match. This is one of my favourite sub-10 minute matches ever so thought I’d throw it up here. Shibata had a few other fun short sprints this year against guys like Tenryu and Fujita, but this is the best of the bunch. 7 minutes long, very intense, super stiff. Shibata charges Kawada at the bell and goes for him. They absolutely blast each other with strikes throughout, Kawada does some awesome selling at points where he’s getting rocked by some of Shibata’s shots. Shibata at one point has the audacity to give Kawada the Kawada kicks, to which Kawada replies by blowing a gasket and murdering the fuck out of him. Final minute is totally wild, both guys just swinging for the fences with all sorts of shots, like the final minute of a top tier UFC fight, before Kawada just fucking punches Shibata straight in the face for a knock-out blow. Shibata looked like the future here, a badass who offered something different to the rest of his peers, and even in 7 minutes Kawada made him look good by hanging with him in exchanges and getting pushed to the point of having to resort to a KO blow to put him down. Maybe the most brutal 7 minute match ever.


    -------------------------

    And that's a wrap for 2004. A tale of two promotions and two different journeys. NOAH had maybe it's best year ever for in ring content. By pairing him against heavys, KENTA broke out as a singles star and became one of the must-see acts in wrestling. Kobashi continued his big title run, which for my money is the best title run in Japan of the last 20 years, having great defence after great defence, while allowing his opponents to make the match theirs and put them over strong in defeat. It also did some of the best business NOAH ever did as they had their first of 2 Dome shows. Misawa & Ogawa's tag title run ruled too. Meanwhile, New Japan was departing the previous era of Inoki-ism and moving towards the future lead by Tanahashi and Nakamura (& Shibata). While the promotion did had a fairly week year in terms of big matches delivering, the 2004 G1 remains my favourite G1 thanks to the wide diversity of styles and talent they had. I only highlighted 3 of the top matches, but there was a whole bunch of other stuff ranged from fun to really good. All quiet on the indy front mostly in 2004, however U-Style did give us one sweet year of shoot-style goodness before the style died pretty much for good after.

    TOP 5

    #1. Kobashi vs Takayama
    #2. Misawa & Ogawa vs Marufuji & KENTA
    #3. Kawada vs Hashimoto
    #4. Tamura vs Kosaka
    #5. Tamura vs Ito
    Last edited by King Steventon; 10-12-2020 at 07:11 AM.

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