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Charles (Loss)

[1996-06-12-NJPW-Best of the Super Juniors] Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

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Hashimoto and Yamazaki is the match-up to watch out for. Those facial expressions early on from Hashimoto staring a hole through Yamazaki are pretty awesome. They end up getting in quite the brawl, with Hashimoto shoving the ref down a few times. There's also a huge difference in heat every time they lock up. Awesome heat, drama and action here.

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This is one of those matches where the weekly TV makes it even more enjoyable as they build to the title match. It was just a one-series storyline, and they fucked it all up by instantly taking the belts off Yamazaki & Iizuka on the next series. But if there's ever a NWJP 1996 Yearbook, some of those earlier tags would need to go on. Yamazaki and Hash had some good hate going on. :)

 

John

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Surprised this had such little discussion...

 

The one thing I always had against this match was the finish; ie, it's so sudden. I'm not so sure I'd argue it being such now. Yamazaki sells the ribs as well as any of the other more famous "limb selling" performances... to a point where there's just no way you buy him being able to compete with Hash. Him surviving more of a beating than he does would be solely for the sake of "working a long finish" (as they'd probably do now), but this works as well as any sudden finish I can recall. One of the best NJ tags, and really, really fucking good.

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Talk about blowing the Juniors out of the water, on their showpiece night no less. The BOSJ Final main evented, but felt like a supporting act compared to this. Talking of supporting acts, both Hirata and Iizuka played their no.2 roles adeptly.

 

Hash was at his peak, radiating star power. The challengers came in with a clear game plan to target his wheel. The problem was that they got their asses kicked. Yamazaki had both a pre-injured hand and ribs, so he couldn't offer much resistance to the beating. He just had to hang tough. At the end SSM was setting him up for the kill and Hash was just focused on neutralising Iizuka. Then in one move Kazuo locked on the Juji and it was over in seconds. Great storytelling and very well thought out. Plenty of excitement too makes this one of the better tags of the year. Top notch performances from both top dogs.

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I thought Hash was pretty incredible in this. Yamazaki really brings it with the selling as well, and he was great, but Hash is just a fucking wrecking ball. Him going apeshit and trying to kick someone to death is one of my favourite things in wrestling, and the bit where he loses it in this ruled. I thought Yamazaki was about to puke his guts up when Hash started jumping on his stomach. There's a great moment near the end where Iizuka tries to climb back in the ring and come to Yamazaki's aid, so Hash casually walks over and boots him clean in the face. Flash finish totally works as well. I love this Hashimoto/Yamazaki feud.

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Really incredible layout and performances--without going back and checking (and my original post at DVDVR is of course lost to history) it reminded me a great deal of Choshu & Saito dropping the IWGP tag belts to Hirata & George Takano that people raved about on the NJPW '80s set. That was a similarly overmatched team pulling out a stunning tag title victory, and even though it's been awhile since I've seen it I could almost believe that Hirata used past experience to lay this match out himself. Hash is such an awesome bully in this, abusing Iizuka because that's what people are supposed to do with him, and brutalizing Yamazaki's ribs as Kazuo turns in an all-timer of a face-in-peril performance. It seems like there's no way the champs can lose, but Iizuka provides a glimmer of hope by taking out Hash's knee, removing him from the picture just long enough for Yamazaki to bust out a cross armbreaker when he looked completely dead. One of the better-booked of NJPW's many, many '90s upsets--this felt like an upset that served a purpose and told a story rather than something like Liger pinning Chono because gosh darnit, they won't expect that.

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Man Hashi is so awesome here. He wants a piece of Yamazaki at all costs and is just a beast within all of their interactions. The crowd is really cooking for their exchanges and the respective seconds add to the match while realizing they arent the focal point really. ilzuka clipping his legs was a great moment to give just a glimmer of hope to that team. Still, Hirata hits a powerbomb on Yamazaki a minute later and all feels really lost for that tandem. The desperation and immediate tab wit the armbreaker was great as an upset and Hashimoto has to process things for a second as the crowd goes apeshit. Terrific stuff. ****

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Hashimoto's striking looks great. I didn't like how they no sold the DDT early on, but I never really like it when a DDT is no sold. Hashi's leg strikes look so brutal, so it makes total sense for them to go after his legs. The crowd is hot. Yamazaki does a great job selling the ribs/back. Hashi delivers one stiff blow after another, and his (Yamazaki) selling really sucked me into the feel of the match. Hashi really does come across like a beast in this match, and his offense is full of fire, but I think my MVP award might go to Yamazaki for this one. This was great. ****

 

#451 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-500-451/2/

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Loss' #451 is a slow burner. Hashimoto is a vicious bastard in this and Yamazaki does an excellent job of selling his ribs. The parts with Hirata and Iizuka are a bit boring but the match is really about the ferocity of Hashimoto's attacks and the pain that Yamazaki is in. A perennial underdog (some might say under achiever), Yamazaki gets a rare moment in the sun and Hashimoto's disbelief is palpable. Not a match that ever really touched greatness, IMO, but I can see folks feeling differently if they've seen the build up and are invested in the narrative.

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Hashimoto asks for Yamazaki right away but they wait a good while before getting him in the match, which did help build anticipation. Hirata and Iizuka sort of carry the match in terms of delivering competitive action. Hashimoto and Yamazki's exchanges are awesome but they're totally, totally one sided -- Hashimoto destroys Yamazaki, just gruesome assaults. The very little mileage Yamazaki and Iizuka get in terms of offense against Hashimoto is focusing on his knee, but even that is mostly irrelevant; Hashimoto just kills them both. And it's awesome. Hashimoto takes care of Iizuka leaving Hirata to try to finish off Yamazaki; he gets some nearfalls and it looks like it's clearly over -- but Yamazaki turns a bridging suplex into an armbar and Hirata has to tap out! Ha! The crowd loves the finish and starts chanting for Yamazaki. I definitely want to see more of this feud.

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