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[1992-09-17-AJPW-20th Anniversary] Kenta Kobashi vs Jun Akiyama

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This is Akiyama's first pro match, right? It's pretty solid. I really like Kobashi in this, because it shows that he could have pulled off an ace role if he cared to work that style. Akiyama, meanwhile, makes Kobashi faces after some tough chops. Kobashi won, but it wasn't an "easy" win and put over Akiyama strong right away. Really enjoyable.

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A really good match that. Kobashi was tremendous here in making Akiyama look like a million bucks. All-Japan and St. Louis were so could at building the future until they lost the magic.

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Pretty incredible debut, with Kobashi giving Akiyama many opportunities to look good on the mat and with counters while still staying on top. Akiyama to shows good fire in his comebacks, arguably more than he'd do at times as a vet. A kickout from Kobashi's backdrop suplex brings the crowd behind him and his big spot is a counter into a German. Hell of a story and performance here.

 

***1/4

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Yet another enjoyably "low-key" match in a series. I know this is on for historical reasons but it's also a good chance to see a mid-card-style AJPW match that shows off the sick amount of depth the promotion had at one time. Akiyama gets a good kickout and then hits a German suplex for a near-fall that feels like a victory in and of itself. He can't apply the Northern Lights though, and Kobashi comes back and debuts the Kentucky Bomb (pumphandle power bomb--don't ask me where the name comes from) for the win.

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Akiyama looks marvelous for a debuting pro, and even gets a Hulk Up sequence. But the story for me is Kenta playing a kind of scientific heel, if you would. He never does anything outright illegal, but he doesn't take it easy on the rookie either, turning up the aggression and making the youngster do the same. He's always been pretty pure up to now, so seeing this more aggressive side to him is a nice change of pace. He's ready to be more than Misawa's number three (though those designations will be irrelevant fairly soon once the Misawa-Jumbo feud is put to rest), and it'll be interesting to see where he fits in when the next major "story arc" is started. Akiyama looks like he could be a player too, though he obviously needs more experience.

 

Was Akiyama already a big-time athlete in Japan who decided to try pro wrestling? That's about the only reason I can think of that he'd be allowed to look this good in his debut, especially against an established veteran like Kenta.

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He was a successful college wrestler, but he wasn't an Olympian like Hase, Yatsu, Choshu, Manabu Nakanishi, et al were. I think he was just pushed because he was just that good of a prospect.

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I just want to echo how awesome Akiyama looks here for a debut.  These two will go on to have one of my personal favorite matches down the line.  This is a really cool match to check out if you are fan of these two for sure. 

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For a debut match this is amazing.  Kobashi gives Akiyama a lot of good mat counters while not killing his own image, which is a super hard thing to do.  And he gets Kawada levels of vicious at points, which Akiyama responds really well to.  Also, that German by Akiyama was superb with the way he bridged into it.  Really fun midcard match.  A lot more matwork than you might expect, but both of these guys are good on the mat so it works.

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I can't add much more than what's already been said. It's an unbelievably good performance for a debut match, maybe the best ever? Yeah Kobashi is still clearly the better one in there, both kayfabe and for critiquing performances, but Akiyama looks like he's been at this for years.  That German is a thing of beauty for a rookie, Akiyama pays of it afterwards but it's a good shining moment for him. *** range, what an open to a legendary career.

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