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Found 103 results

  1. 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.
  2. Few guys have undergone a more beneficial transformation during this time period than Chono. Only Doc's transition from tag wrestler to singles star compares, but Chono's career was in worse shape than Doc's. This starts off great, with Hash psychotically kicking Chono to death in the corner and abusing Tiger Hattori in the process, with Chono having to fight back just as hard. But then this just dies, with a lot of meandering and punch-kickery. Chono is charismatic in this role but this really feels like a WWF or AAA-style New Japan match. Lots of playing to the crowd between moves clubbering, and Hash does an unconvincing Hulk-Up routine. The crowd seems really restless, too. Hiro Saito's interference isn't appreciated, either. This has the attempt of an intense no-frills war, but it comes off about 1/3 as convincing as a Hash/Tenryu match would be in this setting. This isn't a BAD match, but it seems these guys expected to just walk in and have a really good match, instead of doing anything particularly special as befitting either this setting or this feud. It's just another routine Hash title defense with a routine layout and routine finish. Reaction to this match was negative enough--to say nothing of the the realization that AJPW had outclassed them in their own backyard--that NJPW basically pulled their support for this show as soon as it was over. So no home video release, no sequels (even though Mutoh was supposedly willing to put Misawa over in a singles dream match had they run this again in '96), or anything else. Too bad, because this show ultimately did live up to its hype, providing a little something for every wrestling fan without overstaying its welcome the way Big Egg did.
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