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Found 846 results

  1. KinchStalker


    Toyonobori Real name: Michiharu Sadano Professional names: Toyonobori Life: 3/21/1931-7/1/1998 Born: Kanada (now Fukuchi), Fukuoka, Japan Career: 1954-1973 Height/Weight: 174cm/114kg (5’9”/251 lbs.) Signature moves: Bearhug, boston crab, Argentine and Canadian backbreakers Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, Tokyo Pro Wrestling, International Wrestling Enterprise, New Japan Pro-Wrestling Titles: All Asia Tag Team [JWA] (7x; 4x w/Rikidozan, 1x w/Michiaki Yoshimura, 2x w/Giant Baba), WWA World Heavyweight [WWA (Los Angeles)] (1x), IWA World Tag Team [IWE] (2x, 1x w/Thunder Sugiyama, 1x w/Strong Kobayashi) Tournament victories: World League [JWA] (2x: 1964, 1965) Summary: Toyonobori was one of the most prominent members of the first generation of puroresu. For a time after Rikidozan’s death, he was even the top wrestler in the country. However, Toyonobori’s considerable legacy is haunted by the specter of his irrepressible vices. Michiharu Sadano was recruited by a patron of the Tatsunami sumo stable during a provincial tour; supposedly, it was a decision made by his stomach. Debuting in June 1947, Sadano adopted the name Kanedayama in January 1949, before switching to Toyonobori that autumn. He won his first tournament in autumn 1953, and was promoted to the makuuchi division in 1954. Near the end of that same year, he would leave sumo to transfer to pro wrestling. Toyonobori got his first big break in 1956, reaching the semifinals of an interpromotional heavyweight tournament meant to delegitimize the JWA’s regional competitors and build up Azumafuji for a title match that never happened. It wasn’t until 1960, though, that he really got pushed After Azumafuji’s retirement made Toyonobori the most prominent ex-sumo besides Rikidozan, Rikidozan began to groom Toyonobori as his successor. The two won the All Asia Tag Team titles from Dan Miller & Frank Valois in June. It would be the first of four reigns with Rikidozan, and seven total. Toyonobori was one of a few wrestlers besides Rikidozan to eke out some status in the company, alongside earlier Rikidozan tag partner Kokichi Endo, and the light and junior heavyweights Junzo Yoshinosato and Michiaki Yoshimura. Toyonobori’s gambling addiction and debt kept Rikidozan from ever fully pushing the gas pedal, but Toyonobori remained loyal to him. Many of Toyonobori’s juniors were fond of him due to his gentle nature. His mentorship of the young Kanji Inoki is well-known, and will be relevant later. Less immediately obvious, at least to Western fans, are the many ring names which Toyonobori bestowed upon his underlings. Some stuck, like Antonio Inoki, Kotetsu Yamamoto, Kantaro Hoshino, and Umanosuke Ueda. (The latter three were inspired by late Edo period samurai Aizu no Kotetsu, the 1943 film Ina no Kotetsu, and Edo period samurai Umanosuke Ueda, respectively.) Others did not, like Genji Okuma (Motoshi Okuma), Sarukichi Takasakiyama (Motoyuki Kitazawa), and Akihisa Takachiho…although in fairness, it was a long time before the latter became the Great Kabuki. After Rikidozan’s death, Toyonobori was selected by the JWA’s shareholders and sponsors to take his spot as the ace, as well as help run the promotion in an executive council. In April 1964, he challenged the Destroyer for the WWA Heavyweight title in a match which drew a 51.4 television rating. While this did not match the 64.0 of the previous year’s Rikidozan-Destroyer match (5/19/63), it still made it one of the most widely-viewed wrestling matches of all time. (Like that match, it does not survive.) Eight months later, Toyonobori won the title, but this reign would begin to undo him. Toyonobori’s resistance to defending the belt in its native territory made for tense relations with the JWA’s only Stateside ally. Meanwhile, Toyonobori became company president in early 1965, as Rikidozan widow Keiko Momota stepped down from her post and the troika of underworld bigwigs atop their shareholders’ association acquiesced to pressure to do the same. Toyonobori was incompetent, passing his duties onto Yoshinosato as he used the company vault as his own betting fund. While he was hardly the only corrupt official in the company, his antics made him an easy target for his peers to rally against. After Toyonobori finally dropped the WWA title to Luke Graham, the other executives chose to build Giant Baba into the JWA’s new ace, and had him win the newly minted International Heavyweight title from Dick the Bruiser in November 1965. That winter, Toyonobori resigned under the cover story of ureteral stones, and quickly set about forming his own promotion. With the assistance of Hisashi Shinma, an old workout buddy and experienced salesman, Toyonobori formed Tokyo Pro Wrestling, the first competitor to the JWA since the earliest years of puroresu. While he could not secure his entire dream roster, he did lure a crop of sympathetic talent to jump ship and follow him, and in the Plunder on the Pacific Ocean, he even swiped Antonio Inoki just before his scheduled return for the 1966 World League. In a supposedly magnanimous gesture, Toyonobori made Inoki the president of the promotion, and transferred his own 50 million yen debt onto Inoki’s shoulders in the process. Despite Inoki’s best efforts to get the promotion off the ground, Toyonobori’s unfettered embezzlement devastated Tokyo Pro. In December 1966, the talent rallied behind Inoki as he formed a new company of the same name, which would fold into the nascent Kokusai Puroresu (International Wrestling Enterprise). Toyonobori found his way back into wrestling through the IWE. He was never pushed as the promotion’s ace, but he was used effectively, putting over foreign ace Billy Robinson and then building up Thunder Sugiyama and Strong Kobayashi through tag title reigns. He retired in early 1970. This would not be the end, though, as he returned to the business to help his old junior. Through the intermediary of Hisashi Shinma, Toyonobori reconciled with Inoki and worked for New Japan Pro-Wrestling in its first year. Without himself and Shinma, NJPW might not have survived its first year. He quietly retired as New Japan received network support in 1973, although he made a ringside appearance for Inoki and Kobayashi’s first match in March 1974, and refereed Inoki and Kintaro Oki’s match that October. Fifteen years later, he appeared again for Yusef Turk's retirement ceremony. Toyonobori died of heart failure in 1998.
  2. You look at this matchup, taking place in MUGA, and you think „this sounds like a lot of matwork“. And you'd be correct. Pretty much a purist's dream match with all four guys hitting the mat hard. Perfect blend of shootstyle, 80s NJPW and MUGA psychology. Ishikawa fits like a glove here and looks great. Aside from all the great arm whips, headscissors and armbars and slick grappling they knew how to make basic holds meaningful and spice things up with struggle. Really liked the young guys getting the advantage and old guy Fujinami busting out a huge kneedrop off the top to break up a submission nearfall. Also Nishimura looks awesome and as good as he was in the 2000s. Match is a little short (17 minutes) but as good as it looks on paper.
  3. Hi, not taking a break from 2013 AJPW but wanted to share something in the meantime. This is a review of ZERO1 07/31/08 & 08/03/08 from Samurai TV. Its the last 2 days of their Fire Festival which is their Champion Carnival or G1Climax. A side project that I'm working on is checking out Zero One, Zero1, Zero- One Max and every iteration of that company. Its not going to be a deep dive since there's no ready made compilation that I'm aware of. In fact there's not a ton out there in general...at least hype or talk save a few early matches or cross over matches. The dvds are out there but you're trusting your instincts on which shows to check out. I decided to go with a selection of mainly Fire Fests since it features the most well-known stars of the company as well as others from outside organizations. From there its a scavenger hunt on different comps and what's available online. Its nice though because it reminds me of my early days of hunting for puro and being happy with what I could find. Let's get going! Shinjiro Otani v Masaaki Mochizuki 7/31/08 - Dynamic all action match with some really fantastic sequences and exchanges. This was a blast to watch. Its been awhile since I've seen some Otani. Slight clipping but very good stuff. Manabu Nakanishi v Takao Omori 7/31/08 - Yeah here we go, two dudes just clubbing the heck outta each other. Manabu throws Omori through a door from the Torture Rack position. Lots a lariats - very good stuff. Slight clipping Kohei Sato v Togi Makabe 7/31/08 - Quick violent stuff and a fantastic finish. Manage is very underrated but he does take some getting used to. My 2010 NJ project CA couple years ago made me a believer. Masato Tanaka v Ryoji Sai 7/31/08 - This was a great match IF you gloss over the excellent leg work Tanaka did. I was on my way to saying Sai put on a Kawada worthy sell job but then he proceeded to blow it off at every chance he got including after a missed double stomp. So I can't say this was anything other than a good match that could have been great. When a guy just sells his ass off and then acts like nothing's wrong that's silly and I don't want silly wrestling. But maybe fast forward those bits and you'll really enjoy the hard hitting action. I don't know maybe I'll rewatch with lowered standards? Masato Tanaka v Takao Omori v Manabu Nakanishi 8/3/08 *3 Way Match* - A really fast paced and effectively built 3 man match to determine who was going to the finals. Nice sequences and spots...yeah I thought this was great stuff for 7+ minutes. -Spoiler alert for the Tournament Finals Matchup - Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe 8/3/08 *Fire Festival Tournament Finals Match* - Makabe is the violent cheating outsider and Tanaka is the home promotion hero. Can he withstand the punishment the bigger and younger NJ villain can dish out? What about his trusty chain and flunky Honma? If anyone can Dangan can! Seriously, this was some classic shit if you're an ECW/FMW fan from way back like me. Brawling, blood, hard hits, table spots, fake outs, fighting spirit... But this wasn't just a bunch of those things thrown in a blender. No, it was built very well in an old school type of way and that made everything that much better and more meaningful. I loved this battle. ----- This was a very good start. The finals were totally my cup of tea despite not being a traditional macho he-man slugfest like the Strong BJW guys do or a fireworks show. It was a more Southern brawl (with heel cheating) than a late 00's puro match. It had a couple hardcore spots but in the ways of later ECW/FMW plus it was intense and hard hitting as you wanted for 2008. Glad I took a chance on this one! Thanks for reading! I hope that you will enjoy this side project and we'll both find out more about Zero-One.
  4. Yuji Nagata vs Kensuke Sasaki - NJPW 01/04/04 Up until the finish, I thought this was a classic, bloody, Dome brawl. I was perplexed why no one talked about this match until that finish, which takes it down quite a bit. Sasaki returns, but not to a hero's welcome. No, he must have been portrayed as a turncoat for leaving Inoki's New Japan to join a short-lived Choshu's promotion that would focus more on pro wrestling. Sasaki fit the 90s New Japan Strong Style well, but Sasaki stuck out like a sore thumb in Inoki's MMA-influenced New Japan of the early 2000s, but he comes back here to challenge Inoki's boy, Yuji Nagata at the Dome. Without the title on the line and New Japan in its nadir in terms of critical quality, I can see why this is overlooked, but I thought this was awesome. They are chippy before the match starts and have to be held back during introductions. It feels like Sasaki is a Choshu-like invader taking on the Hero of New Japan. They just stand up and duke it the fuck out. Sasaki rocks him with a slap to the ear. Nagata tries to fight back and Sasaki hits him a lariat. Sasaki goes for the cross-armbreaker to win the match, but Nagata retreats to the outside. Sasaki whips him into the railing and goes for the chair. Nagata in desperation smokes the chair back into Sasaki's face with a wicked kick. Sasaki does a nice blade job. Sasaki gets a lariat to back of Nagata's head and sends him head-first into the post. Nagata does a nasty, gory blade job. We get the double juice and Nagata & Sasaki stand up in the ring and just throw haymakers, headbutts and strikes. It was fucking awesome. Nagata is left in the middle ring laying and you can see the pool of blood forming around the back of the head. Sasaki just goes vampire crazy gnawing on Nagata and then headbutting him. Sasaki gloats and the New Japan crowd boos loudly. Damn! Northern Lights Bomb! He chooses to go for the ten count. He goes for it again, but Nagata gets a wild kick to the head that rocks Sasaki. Nagata follows it up and you really feel like it going to build to this awesome finish and be a slam dunk 2004 match of the year contender, but then Nagata just puts Sasaki in the Rings of Saturn for like 60-90 seconds until Sasaki passes out. It was very anticlimatic. Up until the finish, a damn exciting brawl. I loved the visual of the double juice with them standing up and just trading strikes in the middle of the ring. Sasaki was actually playing a good heel. Definitely worth a look and see.
  5. I'm trying to put into words how much I liked this match but I don't think I'll be able to do this justice. If the match was about ten minutes shorter I think it could've rated it as a top ten match of all time. It's still an absolutely incredible match, an the crowd never really dies but after a certain point they just aren't buying the submissions as much as they did and it's more of a "clap for rope breaks/escapes/general effort" thing. This was a perfect showcase for both wrestler's abilities, the matwork was phenomenal and they managed to escape a perfect sense of one-upmanship. It is a match that manages to excel both at the little things and the big things, there's a moment where Inoki does a bridge and Fujinami tries to drive him to that and I swear Inoki did the most beautiful bridge I've ever seen, the kind of thing that could only be possible because of stuff like this: The crowd was fucking insane, you get shots of people standing up and not leaving their feet for about ten minutes just mesmerized by the drama of the match, Inoki firing up while Fujinami had him in a Figure Four was one of the greatest spots I've ever seen and Fujinami responded appropriately by pushing himself up as far as he could and trying to rip apart Inoki's leg, the struggle over everything was so well done here and the match also served as a great display for their character though I'd find it understable if people used to gigantic bumps for irish whips and WWF wrestling didn't pick it up (not actually trying to call anyone out here fwiw), Fujinami has a chip on his shoulder and while being a great athlete in his own right doesn't really possess Inoki's strength and they play it up really well, Inoki goes for an illegal Sleeper in the beginning and Fujinami sells it like a huge threat, later on Fujinami uses the same maneuver several times but never manages to damage Inoki as much as Inoki had damaged him, I think that came off really well every time Fujinami would grab a hold for a longer period of time where, he'd just come off as the most tenacious wrestler ever, and later in the match when Inoki stars slapping the shit out of him and Fujinami sells it enough so it doesn't come off as no selling (especially with his facial expression) but no sells it enough so the crowd can put his awesome facial expressions together with him refusing to go down to Inoki's strikes and it's this humongous amazing moment and everyone is losing their shit and pro wrestling fucking rules mate. I also find it amusing how Fujinami's character seems to consistent both in his on air presentation and in scummy backstage videos and stories (him slapping Kevin Nash comes to mind, also there was a video where him and Inoki just yell at each other for five minutes and Fujinami responds to Inoki's weak fifth grader bully slap by Bas Ruttening him). ****3/4
  6. I wasn’t expecting much from this match, but I ended up enjoying it a fair bit. I’ve found Okada’s recent work to be tiresome and dull, evoking the worst aspects of New Japan. The long-winded nature of his matches hasn’t helped matters, as NJPW continues to chase record-breaking match lengths not as an earned accomplishment, but to pad stats. This match isn’t without its issues. For one, the big moves could be spaced out better. Shingo hits a Death Valley Driver on the ramp and while the count-out tease is well-done, the first move after they get back into the ring is a Superplex. While the original wrist control spot from the Wrestle Kingdom 10 battle between Tanahashi and Okada felt justified and a symbol of Kazuchika’s stubbornness, it has since felt forced and merely been something Okada does in marquee matches. Then you have the dancey counter sequences, which are beyond tired at this point and only serve the purpose of filling time. I also think the finishing stretch dragged a tad bit too long. There’s less dead air here than in recent Okada matches. The early back work from Okada to Takagi is sold well, and the neck work added drama to the Money Clip attempts late in the match. Okada even does a wild dive over the guard in an attempt to win me back. Okada brings a sort of frenzied energy that has been sorely lacking from him in 2021. As is often the case with his best matches, Okada is fired up and has something to prove. Things get spicy once the match escalates, with Okada and Takagi putting force behind their strikes and blasting each other with elbows. After a back-and-forth closing stretch, Okada eventually finishes off Takagi with a dropkick, Landslide, and a Rainmaker. Firmly their best match together for my money. While I still firmly believe that less is more when it comes to New Japan, as a certain match earlier in the card displayed, there’s a lot to like here if you’re a fan of the style. If you’re not, this will do nothing to change your mind.
  7. The Wrestler is back with a bang. Despite some trepidations about his return, I was delighted when Shibata announced that the match would be contested under standard pro wrestling rules. There’s a fairly obvious teacher vs. protégé story here. Narita reminds me a lot of Shibata in terms of his mannerisms and poise. If all goes well, he has all the makings of a special talent. From the jump, we get the kind of buttery-smooth, hard-nosed grappling Shibata’s known for. His transitions in and out of holds are seamless, logical, and give attention to the little details. Take, for example, the moment where he places his arm behind his head to block a submission from Narita, or how he places his boot on Narita’s head to grind him down to the mat for a Figure Four. Shibata turns a pin attempt directly into an armbar to put Narita away, but Narita has too much heart and catches him with a grotesque-looking Narita Special. From there, they briefly transition to leg work. Shibata’s selling of the leg is subtle, but a nice touch to add to the idea that Narita may have a chance to win. Narita gives as good as he gets, stomping Shibata in the corner, refusing to let go of the hold, and shoving the referee A nice struggle over the Kanuki Suplex ends in a Cobra Twist from Narita, but Shibata’s immediately able to turn it around. Narita escapes from a kick at one, which feels suitably defiant and not shoehorned in like one-counts often do. The match gets progressively more violent, as Narita starts wailing on Shibata with kicks, trying to break his guard. Eventually, Narita succumbs to a Penalty Kick. Short, sweet, and to the point. Many wrestlers in New Japan could learn a lot from this match. Less is more and all that.
  8. Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Title Standard fare as far as New Japan’s main events these days are concerned. They start with some mat work, but it’s quickly forgotten about and doesn’t carry much weight. This also isn’t 2020 anymore, so the magic this pairing once created is long gone. Without a cheering crowd living and dying with every near fall, it all falls into the trap of most Okada matches, which is to say it rings hollow. This is relatively brisk by modern NJPW standards, clocking in at just 27 minutes. Naito targets the neck to set up the Destino, and it’s fine and all. I can’t shake the feeling that the New Japan of several years ago, which excited me and had me optimistic about the future, is a completely different promotion than the soulless husk it is currently. There are issues here, so deeply entrenched in the epic main event formula that simply allowing crowds to cheer again won’t fix overnight. For one, they could do a better job of spacing out the high spots. Okada hits a DDT on the apron, and rather than capitalizing on it, immediately hits another DDT on the floor. Whether New Japan will overcome these obstacles remains to be seen. But for now, we’ll have to rely on small glimmers of hope like sporadic guest appearances from Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Tatsumi Fujinami, or STRONGHEARTS freshening up the undercards. The crowd audibly popped when Naito hit a Stardust Press in the closing stretch, which felt like being transported back in time a few years when things were better and it was undoubtedly the high point of the match. Hold on to those moments, because for the time being, they are few and fleeting.
  9. Good match, not quite great. The appeal of this is fairly simple. It’s two wrestlers with big personalities battering each other’s chests until they turn into raw meat. The first five minutes are almost exclusively made up of chops. Things spill to the outside, but Suzuki stays firmly in control. Despite the even start, Hiromu spends the bulk of the match fighting from underneath. It’s Hiromu’s best showing in quite some time, as Minoru’s there to ground him and curb his worst instincts. The pacing is inconsistent, as the two start wrestling, and things speed up briefly. The main thing preventing me from enjoying this more than I did is that it feels a little too one-note. The strike exchanges are delightful, if a little long-winded. Regardless, it’s a fun match that doesn’t overstay its welcome. With current New Japan, you have to take small victories like that where you can get them.
  10. We get bodywork, with ZSJ targeting the neck of Shingo. The early mat work is petty and uncooperative. Things get a bit counter-heavy briefly, but every time Takagi goes for something flashy, he gets punished for it. On the outside, ZSJ delivers some nasty uppercuts to the throat of Shingo. Back inside, Zack grounds Shingo with submissions. Shingo’s selling, as always, is phenomenal. ZSJ switches things up and works over the arm to neutralize Shingo’s power advantage. Takagi goes for a Sliding Lariat but again pays for it as he gets twisted in knots. The mean-spirited Sabre shines in these control segments where he can viciously work over his opponent’s bad wheels. He’s cocky, dismissive, and a great foil for Takagi. Shingo lands a Superplex, but the damage to his neck and arm means he can’t capitalize. The counter sequences here, as with most New Japan matches, got a bit too dancey for my liking. That said, Takagi and Sabre Jr. are far from the worst offenders of this quirk of the house style, and the counters were saved for the closing stretch where they had more impact. It all circles back around to Shingo’s injuries, though. Shingo fights like mad to get out of a Rear Naked Choke, taking ZSJ to the top rope to try to break the hold, but Zack won’t relent, and Takagi taps out. I don’t think the match quite reaches the highs of their encounter from last year’s G1 Climax, but this was still quite good.
  11. This was the antithesis of most New Japan undercard tags. STRONGHEARTS are such a breath of fresh air, bringing new life to the promotion. Fujinami's great at picking his spots even at 69, which led to a cool moment at the beginning where he stood up to Okada. Kojima and T-Hawk beat the tar out of one another, but it eventually came down to the STRONGHEARTS & Fujinami group isolating Kojima and working over his leg. Tanahashi got the hot tag, and everyone ate a Dragon Screw except Fujinami. Tanahashi slapped the old man and delivered Fujinami's signature Dragon Screw, which elicited an audible reaction from the crowd. Everyone entered the pool, and it led to TM4 hitting a dive on Fujinami. The final stretch between Okada and T-Hawk was breathtakingly quick, but not so much as to be overbearing. A spry, breezy eight-man tag that played to everyone's strengths and got in and out in under 15 minutes. New Japan could use more matches like this.
  12. I've been in a bit of a down period with wrestling the last month or so. I got a Highspots Best of 2003 compilation off eBay a little while ago and I thought it might be the thing to get me back into things. It starts out with matches from the January 10th show. A couple of them are ones that I always wanted to see but never got around to. Looks like a good place to start. KENTA & Takashi Sugiura vs Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki - Man alive this was a Jr. tag fireworks display. Kotaro just set the tone early showing Tiger Mask like speed & agility. Sugiura was the powerhouse while KENTA & Sano were the violent artists. 14 minutes of Jr. action without being contrived or "out of order." There is a difference between this and what was going on in the U.S. at the time. Guys would catch up but this was crisp, clean and engaging Jr. tag wrestling. The finish was the only flaw of this great match. Even then, it doesn't diminish the work. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka - This is a WAR lover's match. More potatoes than Idaho. Some might more moves but this burns bright with inter-promotional hate. That coupled with a brutal finish makes this a classic tag match in my book! Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue - So I thought the above match was the final but no! We have this dream bout with NJ's Chono getting in the mix. His interactions with Kenta & Taue were like a Fire Pro match come to life. Its different than what came before it and was very much a big time main event style match where you get what you came for. The tanks aren't emptied out but you're still grinning at the end. It's been awhile since I've seen Misawa, Kobashi & Taue so this was a treat. I feel very comfortable calling it a near classic match... ----- Its no secret that I'm a big fan of tag matches and these were totally up my alley. Each was different stylistically yet each was dynamic and engaging. I'm sure these are available online somewhere or maybe you have them on DVD or saved somewhere on a computer, take the time and check these out. If you're a newer fan, its some great stuff from the not too distant past. If you were watching NOAH take shape 20 years ago (holy cow!), these matches will take you back in time to a period of excitement and possibility. Thanks for reading!
  13. I wish MUGA had been a full time promotion at this time. This was mostly on the mat, which is where everyone here looks good. This was certainly a good use of Hase whose amateur style stuff still looks very powerful. He and Nishimura with his awesome briding where the standouts here early on. Mutoh just did his usual spiel for the finish, altough Fujinami hitting a flying knee on him was really fun and Nishimuras selling made it look better than usual.
  14. Murakami and his BattlARTS pal shake things up in New Japan. Tanahashi & Kenzo actually step up here, working shootstyle and look good. Tanahashi's matwork is especially way better than pretty much anything he did from 2006 onward. Kenzo throwing big crowbar suplexes is certainly way better than whatever he did later also. This was basically an Ishikawa section followed by a Murakami section with both guys bringing their signature stuff. Ishikawa doing cool matwork and Murakami punching dudes in the face. Good shit but you come out of this match wanting to see a singles match.
  15. This match was the final of a round-robin league to crown the very first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. There's nothing new here, but it's a well-done match and a historic one. The opening minutes feature an all-time-great dropkick by Cobra. Check out my full review, as part of the 365 Wrestling project.
  16. Okay look, I get it. We're supposed to hate these matches because of the atrocious booking. Or because they ruined Hash's aura. I get that. By the general reaction in other threads I'm assuming a lot of people here witnessed this as it was going on and feel more upset about it. That's fine, I'm not gonna commend this as "ballsy" or something because it really is baffling booking for a feud with a guy who made you tons of money, even if MMA is on the rise and you want to seem legit. But I was seven when this happened. And I....just don't care about that aspect of these matches. I viewed Hash's rise and peak after it had long ended and I loved it all. And you know what? I loved this. The same way I loved what the first 2 Cena/Lesnar matches after he came back portrayed. To see an ace absolutely get overwhelmed and destroyed in such a surreal way is shocking, sure. But what makes these matches work is what that ace tries to do to survive it. This opens with Hashimoto again trying to mount some offense against Ogawa before getting swallowed up and having to roll outside and gameplan. This leads to Hashimoto having to make an opening creatively once again like in the '99 match and you get an absolutely awesome spinning low kick followed by Hashimoto trying to cave Ogawa's face in with stomps. It's unconventional, but it's him still finding a way to lay in a beating and Ogawa sells it well. And this is by far the most evenly worked match they had, again putting over that Hashimoto was closing the gap on not wanting to endure death by STO. We even get a section of I guess you could say legwork as Hashimoto destroys Ogawa's legs (which Ogawa sells incredibly well) and we get a submission finish tease. Every Hashimoto/Ogawa encounter to me is about what Hashimoto can do to not get engulfed late by STOs. This match more than any other one showed how much he didn't want that to happen, with the rope blocking, use of space, and struggle for Ogawa to even get a single one off. And late when it looks like he might be starting towards that we get that phenomenal DDT counter plus the armbar attempt that sends the crowd into a frenzy. Then we come to Ogawa putting Hash through the ringer with STOs and he again sells them tremendously. We can love Hash trying to fight through Choshu lariats so no reason not to love this. And I know there's always discourse about how much a crowd should matter in rating a match but the way they worked them during this entire feud is incredible. When Hashimoto finally can't rise again and gets counted out and you hear that woman just cry out from sadness at what occurred plus the looks of fans who are crushed is something else. Maybe it's something stupid, but when we remember that Hash opened a promotion after this, had excellent interpromotional feuds and matches, and even came back to NJPW a few months later anyway, it's not that bad to me. Not like any of us are on the NJPW payroll. Epic match.