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[1996-02-25-NJPW-Fighting Spirit] Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama

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Hashimoto was very, very over in his day. Terrific match. Very stiff of course, but the best part is the crowd literally popping huge for every little move Hashimoto makes. Very good all-action sprint built around strikes and matwork.

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I was very confused during the match. Why was Anjo wearing face paint and who was the guy in the corner of the UWF guys? Oh well, this match was stiff and awesome. I can see why people really dig Hashimoto. He reminds me of a stiffer John Cena.

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Oh fuck, this ruled. Hashimoto already looks like the best wrestler in the world after only two matches. The way he'd just shut Takayama or Anjoh down with those brutal overhand chops was awesome; he comes across as such and un-fuck-with-able dude and has charisma out the wazoo. Loved the chippiness between him and Anjoh. Anjoh became a real favourite of mine this year, and I get a huge kick out of him acting like a douchebag, coming in to break up submissions or pinfalls before sprinting back to the corner and egging Hashimoto on to come get him. The Hirata/Hashimoto double stomp at the beginning looked like it would explode your lungs. There was one "reset" in the second half that seemed out of place and kind of took me out of the match briefly, but they drew me back in with the stiffness and such soon enough. Really looking forward to all the Hashimoto still to come.

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Real stiff and the ringside mics made it sound so good. That face paint on Anjo’s forehead makes for a great target for Hashimoto. Crowd loves their Hash.

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The UWFI men wore mock Super Strong Machine masks to the ring. Anjoh is a monumental douchebag, and was good value here. Takayama showed some decent strikes but hadn't figured out how to fully utilise his size yet. Hash was crazy over. It was like most of the crowd had bought tickets just to see him perform. Hirata was passable, I've never been a fan of the guy. There was only one NJ fighter I wanted to see in there. Generally NJ style oriented as the outsiders concentrated on strikes. Quite compact and an enjoyable contest.

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What a goddamned war. Anjo and Takayama come out in Super Strong Machine masks just to be dicks. At the same time, these four completely abandon any pretense of "shootstyle" while ramping up the shootstyle factor...but this time in the Lawler/Snowman sense, instead of the MMA sense. Hash absolutely beats the shit out of the UWFI guys with some of the stiffest slaps and chops you'll ever see, as this builds into a solid formula tag match on top of all the chaotic brawling and hatred.

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Now we are talking as this was a straight brawl. Takayama and Hashimoto would deliver but I was deeply impressed with the angst shown by Hirata and especially Anjo. He went toe to toe with Hashimoto and felt like he belonged. New Japan as a promotion for the 1990's really excelled in inter-promotional feuds and this match displays that thought wonderfully. ****1/4

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Loss' #457. Man, I love Hashimoto's theme music, and his ring entrance was so fucking great. Hashimoto vs. Anjoh is a match-up I could watch all day long. Normally, I'd hate this shoot style vs. pro-style stuff, but I've never really considered Anjoh a great shoot stylist. To me, he's always been a pro-wrestler doing a shooter gimmick, and I mean that in all sincerity as I really do like Anjoh. Hashimoto vs. Takayama was another great looking match-up. Hell, Hashimoto vs. anyone seems like a great looking match up circa 1996. The match itself was really only half-decent. It was comparable to some of those WAR vs. New Japan tags but Hirata didn't have much on a guy like Hara. But it was prime Hashimoto, so I ate it up all the same.

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Awesome match; the second match on the set so far I think hit particular MOTYC quality. This doesn't flow like a traditional wrestling match, it's 'messy' in the best way a match can be, tons of strikes with a good dose of hate. Hashimoto is clearly bringing more firepower to the match than anyone else and those overhead chops are some of the best things in wrestling. Hashimoto hits a sick double footstomp followed by a great, cheeky fuck you pose. They just take it to each other the whole match and it's all pretty great; things get especially heated at the end with an awesome suplex spot from Takayama to Hashimoto and a submission tease that the crowd totally buys. Hashimoto puts it away in the end with a triangle submission.

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