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Charles (Loss)

[1995-03-13-NJPW-Muscle Storm] Wild Pegasus vs Koji Kanemoto

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Well this was really great. I hate to say it and it's not something I want to go on about, but based on what I've seen from everyone in 1995 so far, Benoit really does look like the best wrestler in the world at this point. Here, Kanemoto is capable but probably not at his best yet, but Benoit carries him to a really strong match. The matwork spanning the first half of the match is tremendous all around, with Benoit focusing most of his effort on Kanemoto's back. There aren't a lot of huge highspots in this which is what it makes it work better in some ways. They do a few sequences where one guy will miss a move the first time and then hit it later when he tries again after wearing down the other more. I have to say I haven't seen that finish ever. Imagine a top rope rana, but instead of it being a headscissors, it's a bodyscissors. Kanemoto wins a tremendous one. On par with the Misawa/Kobashi vs Doc/Ace match without taking up nearly as much time.

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It's funny to come here and read your thoughts, Loss, because my strongest impression while watching the match was, "Wow, Benoit really looks like a serious contender for best wrestler in the world." You expect his big power moves to be perfectly executed and devastating, but he looked so tight and vicious on the mat. And he fit it all around a nice little story of continually underestimating Kanemoto's toughness. I know a lot of people have trouble debating Benoit as a wrestler, but this felt like a top 5-10 match for his career (from the yearbooks, I'd only rate the 6/11/96 match against Eddy ahead of it.)

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So far this is my match of the year. I agree with what you guys are saying about Benoit. This was almost worked american style circa 2000 just non stop. The finish was a little weird though.

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I agree on the Benoit-as-best-in-the-world thing, not quite as high on the match itself, though it is really, really good. I just thought it went on a little too long towards the end. Up until they overextended themselves, Benoit was great as the dominant champ leading the less experienced, lower-level Kanemoto through some great work. Kanemoto gets a few hope spots but doesn't really appear to be on Benoit's kayfabe level, but keeps kicking out and coming back and the almost-overlong finishing stretch actually serves a purpose, as Kanemoto busts out a weird-looking top-rope body scissors/huracanrana thing to shock Benoit for the IWGP Jr. title! Finally, after a number of months, we get a patented Choshu upset that feels like it serves a purpose instead of a shock finish for shock's sake.

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Watching this unfold it was obvious that Pegasus was the dominant champion and Kanemoto the underdog challenger. Apart from that wasn't the case. So the story didn't fit. I wasn't impressed by Koji. He lacked experience in terms of move selection and sold poorly. He also represented one of the worst types of champion figure. Someone who isn't ready for the role, but he's being pushed anyway so there you go.

 

So I have to give a lot of credit to Benoit for getting a good match out of him. This is carrying at its most obvious. I'd be receptive to him being called the best Junior Heavyweight in the world at the time.

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