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[1996-08-04-NJPW-G1 Climax] Shinya Hashimoto vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan

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It's not something that's really surface level to appreciate about him, because there's so much other great stuff, but Hashimoto is second to none at working a crowd. His sense of timing is really good, and he really understands how to build to a moment and get a huge pop, sometimes for not even doing anything super impressive. He's smart. I'm not really a fan of Tenzan here, and this is not a great match, but Hashimoto is really great in it. It's easy to just mark for the stiff execution, but between his selling and ability to lay out a match, he's really a complete wrestler, and one of the best ever. The finish was a major upset that genuinely surprised me, and I love the announcer reaction.

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I'm always surprised at the degree to which people miss that about Hashimoto.

 

From a recent Meltzer post on the value (or lack of value) of perceived toughness for wrestler:

 

It's not about who could beat who is in shoot, but it was for most of its history very strongly about who the fans believed in and didn't believe in as far as in a real fight. That was even important in Japan as late as the 90s. Why else was it Hashimoto on top on all those Dome shows, and why was the Takada run with Muto and Hashimoto such a huge success?

Too often you read people reduce Hashimoto to toughness and ignore that he main evented dome shows because he was probably the most charismatic wrestler of his generation.

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That post surprised me too. Yes, a large part of Hashimoto's appeal was that he was tough, but it's really selling him short to say that's all there was to it. He was more consistent than Muto and Chono, and projected more superstar aura too. As much as Dave usually gives credit to guys for carrying themselves as stars, it's astonishing that he could miss that about Hashimoto.

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Dave's storyline on Hash was that he was "tough", and he's always stuck with it. There was more to Hash than that, and I'm pretty certain that it's why so many of the hardcore fans in the early 90s were slow to get how good of a worker he was.

 

Hash drew because like Inoki and Choshu he was a charismatic son of bitch and could work the hell out of the crowd. Pre-Blackjack Chono had issues with charisma, and while Mutoh clearly was charismatic, he wasn't a really strong wrestler at consistently working the crowd.

 

One of the more interesting things to watch in 1995 if you get the weekly TV is to see after the title change that the fans still think Hash is the man. They had seen enough of "it's Wrestler X's turn" title changes over the years that they just took it to be Mutoh's turn. It's that way up until G1. Then Mutoh has a good storyline run in it, along with matches that work for the fans. In the end, he beats Hash again in another match that really works for the fans. At that point, they buy him... and Mutoh seems to final have some confidence in himself as the top guy in the promotion, which he and the fans take into the match with Takada.

 

What's also interesting is how quickly that ends. Almost as soon as Mutoh drops the title to Takada, and Takada calls out Hash, it's as if everying (fans and wrestlers) get it again: "Oh yeah, that's right... Hash is our guy."

 

G1 in 1996 is fab because Hash takes that role of being the ace of the promotion and turns it on it's head. He's booked into the role, obviously... and it's very similar to Choshu in the original G1 of hitting an airball. But Hash really nails it, and by the time of the Tenzan match is jst selling the shit out of the knee like a king. It's a big upset, but once it's over it feels "right". The storyline and his work had done that good of a job of it.

 

As much as the J Crown was fun, I really dug being there to watch Hash's work through the G1 live. Fab stuff.

 

John

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Tenzan wisely went straight for the injured knee. Hashimoto was in terrible pain but just would not quit because of his pride. Alas he couldn't fight back much and fell to another defeat. This huge upset win over the IWGP champion became logical because of the injury. Shinya was such a generous worker. The fans didn't care much about Tenzan at this stage, and he'd been buried by Choshu the previous night. Here Hash was able to carry the match with his star power and selling, putting over his opponent as much as he could. Not a great match by any means but top notch storytelling.

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Not a great match but this is as shocking of a result as I've seen on these Yearbooks--up there with Liger pinning Chono and some of Honaga's wins. I've complained about NJPW being *too* upset-heavy in contrast to All-Japan but matches like this show that Choshu still has the magic. This isn't really even meant to be great--it's just Tenzan zeroing in on a wounded body part and having it pay off. But it felt realistic, thanks to the different layout (no big comeback for Hash) and Hash's selling.

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Shocking upset for me too but Hashimoto really milked that knee injury so he made everything believable. I can see people that dig old man Tenzan now getting into this one but like nowadays I found his offense to be too methodical to raise this match above the good level even though Hash was a pro as usual getting him over. ***

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G1 upset! Very impressive match, simple psychology executed very well and came off feeling very unique. Tenzan is all about targeting Hashimoto's knee, which has already been established as a weakness this year. Tenzan can't match Hashimoto's power, but he goes after the knee unceasingly. Hashimoto's performance is just great, getting over the story with really good selling and of course bringing the ferocity when he gets offense in. Hashimoto gets a string of moves going but collapses when trying to lift Tenzan, and then Tenzan just assaults the knee non-stop until he gets a pin no one expected. Really cool match and great Hashimoto performance.

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