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Found 14 results

  1. Remember when NOAH was really fun for a minute there? I thought Tenryu was pretty exceptional in this, in a subtle, low key sort of way. It was a match largely built around strike exchanges, but it was Tenryu's reactions to them that stood out (insert point here about those exchanges not just being rote "you hit me, I'll hit you" affairs, that they sold the strikes in interesting ways, that they injected personality into them, etc). Tenryu was 55 by the time he got to NOAH (this is his first appearance there, actually). He's a big name and still has pretty good mobility for a 55 year old who's been wrestling for nearly three decades. He can still go and he'll hit super hard (evident by Misawa's welted chest after a couple minutes), but he's breaking down and can't hang with the very top dogs like he used to. So he gets even more belligerent! And acts like an even bigger shithouse! There were a bunch of great moments in this where he'd be laying it in with chops, then later potato punches, and he'd be at least even in the exchanges...but then age would creep up on him and he'd be left in a heap somewhere. I love how he'd sell Misawa's elbows like molars had been knocked out, or Rikio's slaps like they'd scrambled his brains. It also led to him ramping up the cheapshots, like the knees and kicks from the apron, the short punts to the face, the casual interference. It could only get him to far, but he still had gas in the tank and he wasn't ready to accept that it might be time to step aside. Misawa was mostly elbows in this but good grief did they have some meat behind them. He hit one combo that even Tenryu's relatives felt, and later when he had Tenryu in a chinlock he took the time to measure one nasty little elbow to the bridge of the nose. Rikio and Koshinaka were fun understudies and for the eighty seventh time I'll reiterate how much more enjoyable I find old man Koshinaka compared to prime Koshinaka. I haven't seen the Tenryu/Misawa singles match in about a decade, but I'm wondering if it's as disappointing as it was thought to be at the time. It certainly shouldn't have been based on this.
  2. A very good 20 minute match that could've been a great 10-15 minute match. Akebono is the focal point of the match-whenever he's in the ring the match is on track. The crowd is livid at the idea of him facing off with Kobashi, and the early sequences clash Kobashi's tenacity with Akebono's sheer size, and it ends up with Akebono running over Kobashi. Unfortunately the Akebono-less pairings deliver nothing for most of the match, you'd think Kobashi was Go Shiozaki by the reactions his offence was getting and his insistance on doing shitty downward chops. The action picks up once Rikio fires up, no-sells Kobashi's pedestrian offence and corners him with sumo palm strikes. From there on Akebono stops playing the invicible monster and embodies a more vulnerable, Vader-esque monster, peaking with Kobashi relentlessly chopping him down in the corner and getting both his payback and moral victory in the clash of the titans. Akebono's slaps and slams are brutal enough that he doesn't lose credibiltiy even if Izumida was beating him up moments beforehand, and him and Rikio come up with neat ways to sandwich their opponents and put their weight to use. A neat glimpse into an alternative universe where a more mobile and better booked Akebono was a great wrestler. ***1/4
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