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[1993-11-04-NJPW-Super Grade Tag League] Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Chono

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Hello lost classic. Should get a full review at some point, but this is better than all but the very best AJ tags of the year and should be talked about at that level. Hase, Muto and Chono all have extended periods of the match where it feels like hope is lost. The selling is phenomenal, and they do a great job of keeping interest in Hase/Hashimoto as a feud, distinguishing it by having some tension with the handshake at the beginning and also having Hashimoto do a number on him. Hashimoto takes a ridiculous Michaels-style bump over the top rope to the floor when he misses a spinning wheel kick. Great match!

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ProWrestlingHistory.com has it as 26:57, which is likely a number from the WON since it's a Sumo Hall card and Dave typically had times for the top matches.

 

I'm trying to remember if this aired on TV originally. I recally the NJPW Tag League each year typically being pretty disappointing relative to AJPW's... but there were 1-2 matches that stood out through 1996. Just can't remember them off the top of him head. I do think one of them was a Usual Suspects type of match like this, but it may also have been a Hash-Hirat vs Chono-Tenzan match...

 

John

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You had the promotions top 4 native heavyweights fighting here. Top 4 in terms of performance that is Mr Fujinami. In that regard it's easy to make comparisons between this and the RWTL final. That would be doing this a disservice because it was an excellent match on a global scale.

 

The way they were going through the first half I thought it was going to be a head-down VG level workrater. Yet it developed into a full-on advanced stretch. One man would go for the win whilst the other would try and prevent the other opponent breaking up the pinfall. It flowed back and forth before a very exciting finish. Everyone performed at a high level, there were no weak links in this one. If I had to rank them I'd say Hash>Hase>Mutoh>Chono at this point in time. This was Strong Style par excellence, and about as good as it could've been.

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That bump Hashimoto took off the missed wheel kick was great for someone his size. I seem to remember somebody using that as a signature bump. Maybe Savio Vega? Back and forth at the end was top notch. Some excellent timing by all.

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Why isn't this talked about more, exactly? NJPW tag matches just getting lost in the shuffle behind the juniors and AJPW? This is great, and the crowd is phenomenal--really up there with the Sapporo crowd on 5/25/92. You have four guys here all capable of pinning the other--at times during 1993 I think Choshu (and whoever took over for him when he was hurt--I think it was Fujinami) has gotten too cute for his own good with regard to upset finishes, but matches like this are where that philosophy really shines. All action but never overwhelming action--the "high spurt" Choshu style of tag wrestling done to pretty much perfection.

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Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Chono (11/4/93)



This was good stuff. The first couple of times I watched it I thought it was like reading a Silver Age Justice League comic compared to All Japan's Fantastic Four in that it was polished by lacked the dynamic layout of Kirby's artwork and the depth of Lee's storytelling. But for a match that featured only one guy I like, the other three did a bang up job of keeping me hooked. All of the exchanges between Hashimoto and Hase were great and reminded me of how good their singles matches were. Hashimoto brought out the best in Hase (from where I'm sitting at least), but I also enjoyed the Hase/Chono exchanges here more than I ever dreamed I would. I especially liked the early exchange where Hase was scurrying to escape Chono's attacks like a crab on its back. Chono vs. Muto is a match-up that's never appealed to me, but the brand of wrestling they plied was smooth and well executed, and didn't look out of place alongside the Hashimoto and Hase exchanges. They flirted with the tag wrestling tropes that were popular in All Japan and Joshi at the time, but didn't lay it on as thick. I think you could argue that there was a double FIP segment with Hase then Muto, but it didn't really last as long as a FIP segment does and wasn't nearly as pronounced. Part of that was because Hase's selling on the outside was kind of lousy, but the tempo was also somewhere between the slow burning/big pay-off All Japan style and the ultra fast Joshi style, and Hase was more ura-nage happy at the end than near death. That was okay, though. While it didn't have the depth of an All Japan tag, or the emotion of a Joshi bout, it was entertaining and swashbuckling in a sense (and I do mean that as a pun.) The finish had a kick to it and reminded me of a catch and shoot buzzer beater, and I guess you could buy into the psychology of former rivals linking up to take home the big prize if you wanted to psycho-analyse the bout. Can't say Hase looked like any more of a world-beater but it was a lot of fun.

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I might be alone here, but this was a bit pedestrian for me. I never really got bored per se, but I wasn't overly excited either. The feeling out process took too long, and by the time it was over, there wasn't enough time left for me to get fully invested in the match. Hash's bump over the top was fine, and Hase's chokeslam rampage was superb, but it all seemed too little too late.

 

Maybe I would have been more invested if other matches from the tournament had made the set. The Real World Tag League matches in a given year are presented with at least a bit of context so that we can get into the storylines that make the final what it is, but this one was stuck out there on an island by itself. I'm actually more interested in the Hash-Hase bout from December, as some of their exchanges in this one looked pretty hot.

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Really awesome match and one that should get talked up more. I guess because it was the semi of a tag tournament. This had everything you want from these four guys. A molten sumo hall crowd and all sorts of chippness and pairings that work well with each other. Hash vs Hase was the key issue and they delivered as they should as the best two heavies of the decade but this was also a good verison of Chono vs Muto and when Chono and Muto mixed it up with the others, the match didn't falter in any way. I really enjoyed the cut off spots and the way each mistake was emphasized as being critical. The finish has the crowd going complete apeshit and I actually want to see the final to see if the momentum carried over for Muto/Hase. I can't think of a New Japan 90's heavy tag I enjoyed as much as this one. ****1/2

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Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Chono - NJPW 11/4/93 Tag League

The tag team champions at this point I believe are the Jurassic Powers (Norton & Hercules) with the Hellraisers (Hawk & Power Warrior) as their main opponents. Mutoh & Hase are a full time tag team that have won the tag belts and would win them again. I dont know how often Hashimoto & Chono tagged. It is not my favorite way to watch wrestling, but now when I need to get as much wrestling in as possible I will be doing this style from time to time, which is writing the review as I watch the match.

Hashimoto and Hase to start, they had a pretty highly acclaimed match at this year's G-1 Climax, I thought their '94 title match was better. Hase is great for a good amateur wrestling contest. Even though Hashimoto is bigger, he understands leverage is able to take the big man down. He lets him back up in a wristlock which seems hard and is looking for the armbar, but Hashimoto reverses into his own. Hashimoto working the wristlock. Pretty standard New Japan opening to the match. Nice double wristlock takedown by Hashimoto into the headscissors great bridge by Hase. The New Japan wrestler are better than their All Japan counterparts in wrestling. Nice kip up out of the headscissors by Hase. Hashimoto catches Hase good with the right and each tag out. Mutoh and Chono squared off at the '93 Dome show, but Mutoh was Great Muta and also the victor. Mutoh wins the first shouldertackle.  Collar and elbow and shoot off to the ropes and Chono wins the shouldertackle this time. Mutoh works the headlock and Chono reverses into a headscissors towards his corner. This is not being worked at the break-neck pace of the 11/1/90 match. Chono headbutts Mutoh who powders and has a conference with Hase. Knucklelock and Chono gets the drop toehold into the facelock. Chono has been looking good even post-injury here. Chono rakes the face with the boot to re-establish his arm-stretcher. Wristlock by Chono as Mutoh stands up and Mutoh gets an armdrag. Mutoh tags in Hase, which seems wide. Hase and Chono had a highly acclaimed match in 1993 by Parv that is on my list to check out. Nice bridge by Hase and tags Chono in the face with a heel kick. Chono opts not to tag out and Hase tackles him over into his corner and tags out to Mutoh. Chono has been in there awhile. He tags out to Hashimoto. Hashimoto won his first IWGP Championship in 1993 from The Great Muta. Each man misses their first big strikes. Mutoh thinks it is time to tag out. Very cautious, strategic match thus far. Hase grabs a headlock and Hashimoto shoots him off. Hase cant get the big man off his feet. He wisely uses leverage to win the knucklelock showing that Hase is a thinking man's wrestler. Hase throws repeated chops at Hashimoto, but takes one kick from Hashimoto to take Hase off his feet. This is the first mistake of the match. Hase should have stuck to wrestling once he challenged in strikes he lost the advantage. Hashimoto tagged out. Chono went to work on the legs, but Hase is wily veteran and was able to reverse into his own leg holds. They roll into the ropes. Hase goes all Gracie and fights from his back. This confuses Chono and Hase actually wins control and tags in Mutoh. They double team Chono's legs and Mutoh grabs a standard toehold. Nice work by Hase to get himself out of a jam and get Mutoh in there. Mutoh works his usual deathlock hold on Chono. Hase is the real MVP thus far. They double team both driving Chono's knees into the mat and then Hase applies a figure-4. Strong work by the most experienced tag team. Chono makes the ropes. Hase is signalling for The Giant Swing and crowd reacts but Chono makes the ropes. Tag out to Mutoh we are seeing those quick tags. Chono hits an enziguiri and wisely tags out. Hashimoto says it is game time! He bulldozes Mutoh, then throws his ass down, then hits a GIANT ELBOW! Boston Crab by Hashimoto and Hase breaks it up with chops. Hashimoto definitely just escalated this match in response to Chono losing control. Tags Chono back in and Chono is looking to redeem himself. He comes off the top crashing down on Mutoh's arm. Chono tags in Hashimoto and he comes down with a double axehandle on Mutoh's arm. Hashimoto hits such vicious kicks that he knocks Mutoh into Hase. No matter as Hashimoto CRUSHES Hase with kneelifts and kicks. Thrust kick sends Hase in their corner, smart tag work. Chono applies a chinlock as Hashimoto has completely changed the game owning both Mutoh and Hase. It was like a great individual basketball player dominating a game. Chono goes up top, shaking my head. Hase hits a superplex. Far too early to go for such a high risk move. Hase hits his patented twisting Urnage for 2. Hashimoto must be pissed. Hase wants the Northern Light Suplex, but Hashimoto breaks it up with kicks to bail Chono's dumbass out. Mutoh attacks Hashimoto, but it is too late, the damage was done. It was quite the head-rocking enziguiri. Chono got a nearfall, but Mutoh saved. Then Hashimoto came in and knocked Mutoh off the apron and covered again, but Mutoh saved again. That one enziguiri really rang Hase's bell. Hashimoto is basically a one man wrecking crew. He hits his big rainbow spinning heel kick, but that sends Hase flying to his corner. Big mistake. Mutoh is full of piss & vinegar and hits a dropkick out of the gate. Back Handspring Elbow! Bulldog! Backbreaker! He is just going for it. Chono hits a Yakuza Kick to prevent the Moonsault! Mutoh knew his partner was toast and basically just hit everything in his arsenal to try to win the match right then and there, but the 2-on-1 was too much to overcome. Hashimoto hits his rainbow spinning heel kick on Mutoh. Tags in Chono who hits his Yakuza Kick on Mutoh and as Hase is finally getting up on the apron, Chono stomps his head. It does not look good for Mutoh and Hase. Chono holds Mutoh. HASHIMOTO MISSILE DROPKICK! 1-2-NO! Hashimoto enziguiri thats the move that put Hase down and only a two. They are running away with this. Hashimoto tags in Chono and kicks Hase off the apron. Chono hits a suplex for two. Gutsy performance from Mutoh, but it seems inevitable. Octopus Stretch...Chono breaks to Yakuza Kick Hase off the apron. Double team on Mutoh coming and it is a double tackle. Hashimoto knocks Hase off the apron. Single leg crab on Mutoh. I dont see how Mutoh & Hase can comeback but I will feel like it will happen. Chono just ran across the ring and knocked Hase off the apron as Mutoh was in the crab. Mutoh lunges for his corner, but Hase is not there, Excellent! HASHIMOTO TAKES THE MOST RIDICULOUS BUMP! He is charging into a neutral corner and misses his rainbow spinning heel kick over the top rope to floor. WOW! My eyes got huge! Well there is a fucking opening. Mutoh tags in Hase! Here. We. Go. Hase suplexes Hashimoto into the ring! Chono comes in. Twisting Urnage for Chono! Then one for Hashimoto! You know what lets do another for good measure since you were such an asshole this match! 1-2-NO! Crowd was wicked into that. Hase gets a Scorpion Deathlock and then hits a German Suplex! Crowd is really counting loud 1-2-NO, Mutoh is cheerleading. Hashimoto gets the kneelift and wants the DDT, but Hase backs into the ropes. Hashimoto kicks his chest. Still wants the DDT and Mutoh saves, but Hashimoto is persistent with kneelift after kneelift. DDT! 1-2-MUTOH SAVES and then elbows Chono. Another DDT and tag out to Chono! Yakuza Kick! Another one and he blasts Mutoh as a receipt. STF! Hase scrambles for the ropes and Chono is pissed. He slaps on another one and Mutoh saves. Chono misses and twisting Urnage. Tag out to Mutoh. Backbreaker can only mean on thing. Moonsault lands on feet. Hashimoto caves in Mutoh's stomach with a kick. Hase tackles Hashimoto! Chono Yakuza Kick, but Mutoh dropkicks...MOONSAULT...1-2-3! BIG POP!

What I think I love about this match the most is how fundamental it was. It was not flashy. It was a bunch of little mistakes that built up. Hashimoto was basically like LeBron James he just decided to turn it on and say Fuck It, we are winning. He bulldozed Mutoh & Hase. The enziguiri that put Hase down was a cheapshot. It was from behind. Mutoh & Hase were in this huge hole. I love Mutoh realizing the trouble Hase was in and going for broke before Chono hit him with a Yakuza Kick during his moonsault attempt. Hase could barely make it to the apron and Mutoh was getting the shit beat out of him. Hash & Chono were such asses always knocking Hase off even though Hase was not a threat. DAT HASHIMOTO BUMP DOE~! WOW! Talk about a game-changer. You wanted to see Hase's hot tag and that was a great way to get there. You know that may not be enough once Hashimoto DDTs Hase you think the comeback was snuffed out. Hase survives Chono and tags out to Mutoh. At this point, you want Mutoh & Hase to win so bad and Mutoh to finally get that Moonsault after three tries was huge. Nothing flashy, but holy shit did they take you on a ride. I love when every little thing matters. Go big or Go HOME...****3/4...FUCK YEAH BABY! 

 

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