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Found 19 results

  1. This was a good but ho hum match for the first 15 minutes of so. Omori isn't that engaging in me in the matwork portion and even Kobashi seemed to be kind of middling through a bit. That changed once Kobashi locked in a sleeper, choke as the final stretch was excellent here. Omori really showed good fire and Kobashi showed the appropriate restraint in having to exert himself to put Omori away but also leaving some stuff in the reserve which makes perfect sense considering what occurs with the Carnival this year. A ****1/2 finishing stretch combined with a *** opening forces me to split the difference overall. ***1/2
  2. Burning continues to feud against each other and get a bit chippy as they have lost the title. I look forward to the NOAH debut and like how the main event on the first show was used as a catalyst for their devlopment as team mates because it feels like an engaging story arc to follow. Kobashi gets worked over on the leg a good bit here and Mossman impressed me with his power. Shiga is always undersized but he defends his mentors and really puts up a fight in the name of Kobashi. An overall really good semi-main tag where Kobashi and Akiyama showed some strong glimpses of hate against each other. ***1/2 ( 7)
  3. Funny to see AJPW embracing the late 90’s attitude with the all black faction shirts. Kanemaru is someone will we get a healthy dose of throughout the decade but he is just starting out here as Burning’s underling. Akiyama and Omori start off by taking it to the mat. This I think is a throwaway segment but actually one that feels fresh against the big talking point that late 90’s All Japan and up to the split was all about head drops. This was as 1970’s feeling out process as you could get. Kanemaru mixes in some comedy right from the beginning when he headbutts Omori in the dick. Omori doesn’t take kindly to that and they start teeing off naturally on the junior member of the match. Good to see Asako show some fire here as someone who feel off from the latter half of 1990’s footage we watched. I know I am referencing the 90’s a lot here but I do think the gradual step into the 2000’s that we know when we think of pro wrestling is gradual over the calendar year 2000. This is why we can watch this footage so I can try to hash out that theory. Asako actually gains the advantage over Kobashi for a moment and tags in Takayama. Those two have a nice mano y mano exchange and bring the crowd to life. Akiyama gets tagged in and he starts throwing forearms with Takayama but this time Taka is able to gain the advantage. Nice triple team boot attack by No Fear. We get our first bit of true control in the match at the ten minute mark on Kanemaru. Asako sends him to the outside, posts him and hits a front senton. Takayama’s kicks and forearms look on point and he seems poised to be a big force in All Japan in the new decade. Really nice hope spot for Kanemaru where he fires off multiple elbow shots but gets pulled by his shirt from Takayama before he can make the tag. Kanemaru is able to make the tag and the leg of Asako is honed in on with the Burning unit. Akiyama does a great job of ratcheting up the intensity level as he tees off on the leg of Asako. A nice flash knee with the good knee and DDT allows Asako to make the tag and we enter the final stanza of the match with some No Fear double team moves. Nearfall happens on Kobashi from an Omori missile dropkick. This makes Kenta stop screwing around and he reels off a nice combo of offense before tagging out. Kanemaru hits some more offense and mixes in some comedy bits including a big Rick Rude hip swivel after a baseball slide. Match breaks down with Taka and Kento firing away and the two junior members in the ring. Omori sends Jun into the railing and then keeps things at bay as Asako hits a Fisherman Buster and Michinoku Driver to pick up the win. A real good way to ease us into the decade. The structure was predictable as Kanemaru > Asako > Omori > Akiyama > Takayama (those two are close) > Kobashi (1b of promotion) but it is fun to see the little tinges of offense that is made by anyone below the depth chart. I rag on NJ for their young boy treatment but that usually involves the up and comers jobbing to relics like Nakanishi and Tenzan. Everyone here still felt fresh and in the peak of their career. ***
  4. Kudos to Omori for not just standing around and attacking Kobashi walking out on the ramp. DDT out there and he gains the advantage. This is an interesting contrast as a feud for 2000 as this is the 3rd singles match we have seen and all serve a purpose and are different. Kobashi fires off a half nelson suplex to break the momentum and disrobe. Kobashi then goes apeshit on the outside DDT’ing Omori on the concrete and kicking his ass. Takayama begs Kobashi for mercy as Kobashi rolls Omori back inside bloodied up. Some great character work for Kenta as he realizes he is becoming this vicious monster but ends up liking it. Orange Crush and a sleeper choke for Kenta with him wrenching on Omori’s head squeezing the blood out. Crowd goes nuts at hint of Takayama entering the ring and Kenta challenges him. Man, I love NOAH. We get a clip to Kobashi beating Omori up on the outside some more with chops. Clip back inside and finally Omori is firing off somewhat and he hits a lariat and both men are down. Omori pulls down his knee pad and hits the jumping knee for a nearfall. He tries some more strikes in the corner but Kobashi comes back with chops and a lariat to regain the advantage for good. Kobashi then slams about 20 more chops with the blood flying off Omori in a great visual. Kobashi then delivers a Burning Lariat and goes for another with the referee pleading for him to no do it. Omori is out and the match is called. We only got about a minute edited which makes it weird why it wasn’t shown in full but this is a great little 10 minute match. ***3/4 (7.5)
  5. Burning and No Fear are all exploding in one match. Akiyama and Kobashi start off and Jun backdrops Kobashi 10 seconds in. The young punk has learned from his mistakes the night before. They stare each other down and get violent as the crowd erupts again. No Fear then gets a go and while it is a step down from the previous encounter, it is still pretty damn great with Omori winding up with his uppercuts and Takayama not holding back at all on his kicks. After an extended feeling out process from there with a nasty test of strength and Takayama and Kobashi having a go, Sterness takes over and goes to work on Kenta. Running knees for both members in the corner and sending Kobashi into the guardrails. Kobashi is able to reverse the guardrail attempts and hits chops to show he is pissed off. Omori is also worked over for an extended amount of time. This wasn’t at the tip top level of the tags we saw in AJPW in the 90’s but to me it was only a step behind and is actually comparable to something like the Burning vs Ogawa/Misawa tag from October 1999. Ending run is really heated and this is where some people may be divisive. Omori pleads with Kobashi to go for the Burning Lariat and then he takes it out on Kobashi. One Takayama German later and Takayama has pinned Kenta and No Fear is reunited. We get a backstage promo hopefully explaining Omori’s reasoning but it was pretty suspect. Either way, this leads to a great scene of a pissed off Taue coming out and having to be restrained from taking Omori’s head off. Backstage, Taue throws a trashcan at Omori and Kobashi is stomping around all pissed too. This aint ya mommys Kings Road. **** (7.8)
  6. The announcer losing his mind when Kobashi debuts the black/purple gear is glorious. This was a match where the mold is broken again. Akiyama seizes an opening at the start and gives an Exploder and assisted piledriver to Kobashi on the ramp. Why not as his tactics have worked this time. However, Kobashi has had enough of this shit. He gets some time to recover while Rikio gets worked over, gets tagged in and then unleashes a fury of two lariats that knock both Akiyama and Kanemaru out. The shock when the count happens for Akiyama is excellent. I am loving this feud and I am loving NOAH's booking so far. *** (6.1)
  7. I am loving this pairing right now and this match didn't disappoint for me. I think in watching all of the 2000 stuff all together they have been able to connect with me on a stiffness level while also integrating some layered storytelling that is the net result of these guys facing each other many times before. Williams and Akiyama is the most unfamiliar pairing and they start the match off well with some neat mat work with Akiyama's arm getting targeted. The match also had some extended work on Vader's leg which I thought he sold like a champ. The finishing run was dramatic as it looked like Williams was about to get Lariat'd by Kobashi and defeated when Vader on the outside holds Kenta's feet long enough for Doc to reverse the charge into a spinebuster. This sets up the finishing run culminating in Doc getting a feel good tag title run as Vader chokeslams Kobashi into oblivion for the win. Doc being seen as having to get bailed out by Vader really hit home for me in how well Vader is being presented in AJPW right now. ****
  8. Kobashi vs Akiyama rivalry is freaking sweet so far. Jun jumps Kenta on the ramp to start things off heavy here and the fight is on as a carryover from the night before. This match was worked with a lot of urgency and overall it was extremely enjoyable even if it didn’t reach the absolute peaks of the six man the night before. With Kikuchi securing the big win the previous night, the come down was bound to happen but he puts forth a valiant effort getting bloodied up in the mouth and dishing it back out at Kobashi and Akiyama. Kobashi and Akiyama in the finishing stretch are again fantastic and they are making a big push for feud of the year from August onward. Both of them are also making a push to be in consideration for my WOTY. ***1/2 (7.1)
  9. Kikuchi starts this off cheapshotting everyone and gaining the early advantage with others giving a WTF reaction. That gets the crowd lit and was an awesome moment. Rikio also has some pep in his step going toe to toe with Takayama and holding his own. Akiyama gets the tag and throws Rikio to the corner begging for Kobashi to tag in. What a prick. Kobashi gets the tag in and him and Jun tee off on each other. Big chop on the outside sends Akiyama over the rail. Back inside, Takayama tries to bully Kikuchi and he again has none of that. Kenta and Taka now fire up and Kenta gets the best of a chop exchange. I love seeing the face team not backing down an inch here. Really impressive long vertical suplex by Kobashi onto Takayama. Match settles in a bit now but it isn’t awful work between Kanemaru and Kikuchi/Rikio, just less than the fever pitch the match was at before. Kikuchi becomes the FIP and they work him over with some vicious and prickish work. Kobashi gets the tag and is a complete house of fire. In a great bit of resourcefulness, Akiyama is able to go after the leg of Kobashi and they regain the advantage with Takayama kicking away. Rikio helps out by stomping away and having a fun offensive flurry at the 20 minute mark. Finishing run happens now and it looks like Kikuchi is in deep shit against both Taka and Jun but he ducks and Taka hits Jun. Kikuchi takes out Taka and then hits two Germans and a powerbomb on Kanemaru to gain the win to a huge pop. Great match. **** (8.1)
  10. Another good tag match as they seemed to be trying in this show to make sure that Misawa and Taue aren’t forgotten by putting them in better spots. In a lot of ways, this show being in Korakuen is how NJPW structures their Korakuen shows now. Nothing consequential, but some fun stuff. It was nice seeing Kobashi and Taue duke it out here and Kikuchi is always good for taking a beating. Inoue is weak link and really the only NOAH young gun that hasn’t shown much besides getting some opportunities. His selling when they are attacking is subpar and his offense isn’t dynamic either. Kikuchi is able to pick up a win on him which always makes me smile. Just a solid wrestling match that was probably 5 minutes too long. *** (6.2)
  11. A grand match that worked as Kobashi giving an homage to World of Sport. This match really gave me pause to whether Kobashi is the GOAT because he is able to work a Johnny Smith style of match that 100% plays to his strengths (that we haven’t seen much of so far mind you) and yet Kobashi looks completely comfortable and competent. The arm wringers and reversal in the first half of the match were amazing and really played into the big bombs and throws in the second half. A fabulous match overall and one I think everyone should seek out to show how versatile Kobashi really is. ****
  12. I could see this being ****+ unclipped, but even the 9 minutes we get are pretty great. Kobashi tends to work with Vader like he's a typical big man while Akiyama better understands what makes him unique and takes advantage of his ability to play pinball and cut a harder pace. I liked how they did more to get Johnny Smith over here. Fans weren't really buying a lot of what he did as credible, but they were giving him offensive flurries that would at least get fans in the micro, and I thought his kickout from Akiyama's first exploder at the end was well done in that regard. Everyone looked really good here, and I'd love to see this in full sometime. ***3/4
  13. Dr. Death looks game again on the outside slamming Kobashi down and getting a big throw from the top rope. Kobashi makes his big comeback and they give Doc a pretty big moment kicking out of the moonsault. Doc then fires off a flash Dragon Suplex that looks excellent. I really don’t know where this Doc has been since the Nigata Nightmare. The Backdrop Driver gets teased and Kobashi avoids that and hits a running lariat. That spells doom for Doc as Kobashi is able to hit another Burning Lariat and put him away. This match went nearly 25 minutes and I would really like to see it in full. Doc was a great gatekeeper. NR
  14. This was a fun match to watch. Kobashi and Hanson go after each other in the early going and it is typically good stuff from them but a bit restrained. That played into the narrative of the match as things were going along smoothly until Shiga goes after Stan on the apron. Stan loses his shit and then just waylays on him with chairs and an offensive onslaught. The match is set from that point forward. We know the history of Shiga and he was never the cant miss prospect Kobashi was in 1988 but it is heartwarming seeing a red trunked, over zealous young lion go after the pissed off cowboy much in a way the now iconic guy in orange standing on the apron used to. The match from that point forward is all about if Shiga can be saved from Kobashi. He does come in at one point, but Kobashi gets taken out and it is Shiga alone vs. Smith and Hanson. He can’t be saved that time and goes down to the lariat. This is the last we see of one of the best feuds of the 90’s in Kobashi and Hanson. Truly an end of the era moment. ***1/4
  15. Shiga had a good showing here. Between this and the Akiyama match, he's having a nice, semi-quiet 2000 so far. Kobashi cedes most of the match to him, which probably sacrifices some quality, but also is an admirable choice for helping Shiga get some ring time and attempt to get over. I love the slowness of Takayama's German suplex at the finish. Solid match. ***
  16. Shiga is all of sudden becoming an interesting figure right at the split of AJ as him and Hashi go after each other to start things off and it is really entertaining and not that far off from the fired up Kikuchi segments you would see in early 90’s AJ tags. Kobashi and Taue come in like the older brothers that tell the younglings that it is time for serious business. They have a good exchange with each other and Taue gains the advantage by sending Kobashi into a headbutt with Hashi. Hashi takes over on Shiga for a long time here. Hashi is an interesting performer with much more of a wrestling base. He almost seems like he should be mixing it up with Otsuka in BattlARTS. Build to finale has Shiga slapping Taue around in a nice bit of assertiveness before Taue puts a quick end to that shit. Hashi and Shiga were the focal points and are appropriately in there at the tail end with Hashi hitting a fisherman buster and his diving headbutt for some nearfalls. Actual finish is Shiga locking on an armbar and securing the submission. ***
  17. Life comes at you fast. A good but typical six man from these guys that will be raised when you think about the fact that this is the second to last time ever that Kobashi and Kawada stepped into the ring against one another. Even Misawa and Kawada only have a handful of these on tape. That is what made me cherish every interaction here a little more. Beyond that, Fuchi was really game and as someone that was forced to step into a more prominent role with the wake of the exodus that is looming, it was really nice to see him already bringing his working boots pre split. Goodbye 1990's All Japan. ***1/2
  18. A lot to unpack here with this special Baba memorial six man. Taue comes out wearing a Baba esque robe, Omori gets a big marquee spot, we get a rare appearance of Hansen at this point, and Misawa is teaming with Burning! After a little table setting with Omori in there, he tags out to Hansen and Hansen and Kobashi going after each other and it is great. Kobashi isn’t really the young punk that Hansen loved bullying around for so long so it was refreshing to see this strike exchange with Kobashi now being easily higher on the overall hierarchy in the promotion. Omori continues to be the person that is toughest to figure out in the promotion. They clearly have big plans for him and he doesn’t look awful when is without Takayama but in this match he did stick out to me as pretty obviously having the least amount of heat. I did like him taking the aggression to Jun on the outside to really hone in the focus on Akiyama for his squad. Omori gets worked over for a while and nothing much of note happens until Kobashi takes him to the outside and there is a spirited exchange with Hansen coming over for the save. This leads to the ending run with everything being ramped up a bit and Taue and Akiyama having a good closing sequence vs. each other. Misawa in January is an interesting figure as he has been kind of an overload that is prominent but hasn’t really made his move yet for the year. This match exemplifies that as Burning does the vast majority of the work. Omori looks good in closing stretch with his missile dropkick and dragon suplex. Kobashi catches him in a great half suplex and the Exploder, Tiger Mask and Burning lariat combo put Omori away. Fun for a novelty aspect but the action here was pretty pedestrian for All Japan standards. ***