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Spotlight: NOAH 2003 - Differ Cup Jr. Tag Tournament


G. Badger

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In all honesty, this was going to be a quickie post of just a few matches that I stumbled across. But then I became intrigued by the match ups or was impressed by a worker and wanted to see more. And here we are! The entire 2003 Differ Cup watched out of sequence reviewed out of sequence. I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen. Sit back and read on:

KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs Great Takeru & Kappa Kozou (02/08): Was going to skip this since I'd never heard of the IWA Japan team. But then I thought - I'm going to end up watching the whole event (mostly) so I should just check it out. So glad I did! Its shown in full as it features the home NOAH team and frankly it is a great opening bout! Both teams were smooth and exciting which surprised me. Perhaps it's a case of low expectations but I thought the teams gelled well enough that the IWA-J team would be invited back for under card jobs at the very least. Not thinking they were though...

Jun Kasai & Gran Naniwa vs YOSSINO & Ultimo Dragon (02/08): Saw this called the worst match of the night...no way man! In fact, I thought it was great! It wasn't a move fest but it was clever, funny and had some exciting moves too. It just felt like 4 pros at work. Sometimes it doesn't have to be epic, brutal or intense to be great. 

MIKAMI & KUDO vs Kuroda & Chocoball Mukai (02/08): JIP to the last 10 minutes of an 18 minute match. Took a chance on this and was pleasantly surprised. My sleazy indie radar steered me right. Very fun very indie match with chairs and a ladder. As a fan of ECW & FMW, this felt good.

Ikuto Hidaka & Masao Orihara vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki (02/08): In a NOAH ring but this is a Zero-one match. And that is pretty cool. The familiarity is there and they were able to do some really good stuff. Hidaka never ceases to amaze me with some move or sequence. Orihara (who I hadn't seen much at this time other than Fire Pro Returns) can still go. This was all action and a great match. Yoshihito Sasaki looks good even this early.

MIKAMI & KUDO vs Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki (02/08): JIP and clipped however the stuff that was shown was really good! The Zero One team brings the steak but MIKAMI brings the needed sizzle. Heck KUDO looked really exciting here as well. The ladder is in play again and I'm not complaining. 12 minutes shown out of a 15 minute match so I feel safe giving this a "very good" rating.

KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs YOSSINO & Ultimo Dragon (02/08): Oh yeah this was really good stuff especially towards the end. Masato Yoshino/YOSSINO did his part here but Ultimo was the star of the whole tournament. Good pace, action throughout - this 11 minute bout was a nice way to end night #1.

Great Takeru vs Kappa Kozou (02/09): Fun showcase match of the IWA Japan guys. It's about 10 minutes of them throwing their best stuff out there. They made a good impression on me.

Ikuto Hidaka vs Masao Orihara: Oh shit! They were not going to be out done by the IWA guys. This was some next level stuff. Hidaka again drops my jaw with his precision, speed and body control. Orihara is right there with him! This wasn't all fireworks either as Hidaka was trying to get a clean win whereas Orihara was going to take it anyway he could. Even Ikuto has a breaking point and introduces a steel chair to the mix. Nothing too crazy like we've seen the night before but it's nice to see the ECW/FMW relaxed rules again. This is a great junior match.

Kuroda & Chocoball Mukai vs Gran Naniwa & Jun Kasai : I wasn't sure about this one. I looked it up and it was around 20 minutes. 12-14 minutes seemed right but that time seemed too much. Yet again, I was wrong. This was a really fun match that had a little bit of everything. Both teams looked really good. Kuroda and Kasai were the best though. I don't know if I would have booked this after Hidaka  vs Orihara from a draw perspective but they did their job and provided lighter entertainment to prep the fans for the main events.

KUDO & MIKAMI vs. KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki: This is fought for Third Place trophy. I've seen this called a very good match but I can't agree. The start was fun but the middle was long and pretty dull. The last third was good but wasn't enough to save this from being just OK in my book. This was very good but the Naniwa/Kasai match was no good? Yeah right! The Kappa/Takeru bout smoked this as well. It was just too long and none of the guys knew how to fill the time in the middle. A disappointing fight.

Ultimo Dragon & YOSSINO vs Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki (02/09):  Its much more toned down in terms of crazy spots (although it has a few) and has a strong face/heel dynamic. Masato Yoshino (YOSSINO) played the whipping boy and Takaiwa was the bully. Dragon was the big brother and Sasaki was the lackey. It was simple and effective. It was well executed, there were nice surprises, shoot it was a really good tag match! A great way to end the tournament.

There you have it! Never had any intention at anytime to watch this but dammit I had a lot of fun! Only one match was a bummer and most were actually pretty darn good to great. This gets a very strong recommendation from me especially if you're craving something from this time in wrestling.

Thanks for reading!

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