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[1995-06-12-NJPW-Fighting Spirit Legend] Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

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This match is an interesting contrast with the AJ epic from three days earlier. Nowhere near the same quality level, but then it doesn't try to be. This marked a shift in the division towards a focus on native vs native after years of native vs power gaijin, and I hope the yearbooks get more people on board with me in saying that it's a good shift. Hirata is fine as a chunky backup to Hashimoto after years of inconsistent work under the Strong Machine mask; Hash is Hash; TenChono have come into their own a couple months into their run. Good match that started a very solid 18 month run for the division.

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I think there's been a fair amount of criticism over the years of the IWGP Tag Title going into the crapper when it went into the Hellraisers Era.

 

Steiners / Hase & Mutoh / Vader & Vader Era (3/91 to 9/92 in terms of title wins & successful defenses) wasn't bad at all as a change of pace after gaijin vs gaijin dominating the division from 12/85 through 3/91. A decent batch of watchable to good matches in that period.

 

Not so much from 11/92 on through 1993 and 1994. :)

 

John

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Can you explain? New Japan seemed to always be doing native vs native as far back as I can remember. Is there a reason you don't consider the Tenryu WAR feud the shift? Were gaijin a big part of the top matches in New Japan in 1994?

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The WAR feud was non-title stuff. I'm specifically talking about the tag title division and the handful of teams that emerged during '95-'96 (mostly Hash/Hirata, TenChono and Yamazaki/Iizuka).

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Pretty exciting match. It's not as chaotic as the other Tenzan matches earlier on the set (which are angles as much as they are matches), but it's the best laid out match so far. Lots of crowd-pleasing spots with Tenzan and Chono getting their due in the beginning, and I always love Chono's ability to sneak in a low blow. Chono has come so far in charisma and presence from the 1992 and 1993 sets. Tenzan's string of offense on Hashimoto down the final stretch is awesome, especially the Samoan drop, diving headbutt and moonsault. Hashimoto has a nasty nosebleed (pretty common for him thus far in 1995) and takes a great beating while still toughing it out. Chono pinning him was a surprise result for me -- not that his team won, but that they gave Chono the fall. Watching this after 6/9, I agree with Ditch that it's not at that level, but because of the match length and all-action format, it's much easier to watch.

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Now this was pretty good. Loss said it right that it's much easier to watch than the All Japan match earlier. I liked Chono/Tenzan heeling it up and even cheating at times. You had Hirata and Hash just throwing bombs and the crowd was really into it. Fun match.

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Another fun match in this feud and another feather in the cap for Chono's resurgent year, though Tenzan and Hirata certainly pull their weight. Chono's blind fouls are awesome, and they even make sure to distract Tiger Hattori so that he can plausibly get away with it. Hirata is taken out--twice. As soon as he's about to crawl back onto the apron, Hiro Saito casually yanks him back to the floor, just because he can. They throw two curveballs at us, first by having senior member Hash as the FIP and then by not having Hash get the hot tag at all--eventually the numbers overwhelm him and he's double-teamed into defeat.

 

It's not that well-represented on the Yearbooks, but yeah. This is quite the improvement over the Hellraisers and Jurassic Powers (Scott Norton & Hercules...yecch) feuding over the tag belts.

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An intense encounter with strong rivalry psychology. Fun moment early on when Chono wanted Hash to tag in and Hirata told him in no uncertain terms not to diss him. All four men performed well and brought something to the party. Super Strong Machine was faring well before his leg was injured. Hash was left to fend for himself 1 vs 2 and was bloodied to boot. His valiant efforts weren't enough as ChoTen begin their dynasty. Very good match. I felt like a lot of the elements were in place for a classic with a few tweaks here and there.

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