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Charles (Loss)

[2005-02-16-AJPW-Realize] Toshiaki Kawada vs Satoshi Kojima

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After watching their match from a few years earlier I skipped this one for a long time. But this actually was a great wrestling match for the first 22-23 minutes. Kawada controls the first 15 or so minutes and lays a ruthless beatdown on Kojima. It's always simple stuff, but very effective. Kojima gets enough hope spots to look like he has a chance to come back, but that's it. Kojima's big comeback starts with his Ace crusher variation, which makes sense given the kind of damage he's taken. Kawada keeps cutting Kojima off at just the right time to build drama, while Kojima's comebacks come right at the point when you think Kawada finally has him. Then the actual finish hits. I think 5 or 6 lariats by Kojima in succession with various reactions by Kawada. Boo. Going into that bad finish this was looking to be top 20. I'll settle for giving it 80-90 instead.

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I am curious what you would think would make for a better finish. My main issue with the match was that Kawada took way, way too much of the beginning of the match. This was the wrestling version of blow out. Kojima looked like the Denver Broncos just totally overwhelmed and overmatched by Kawada. Kojima just does not have enough to make me believe he has enough to come back from that sort of deficit. I was supposed to buy his Ace Crusher and Lariats as his knockout punch. I just don't see Kojima having a puncher's chance so the match was too disjointed. Kawada looks like a huge choke artist. Kojima was hugely over with the crowd. If All Japan had anyone worth a damn at this point, Kojima probably would have done fine as champ. He should have won and I liked the way he won, but I didn't think front half supported the back half appropriately.

 

AJPW Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada vs Satoshi Kojima - AJPW 02/16/05

 

Choke: Toshiaki Kawada's Soft Drink of choice. How the fuck did Kawada lose this match? He absolutely dominated the first 20 minutes of this match. Kojima looked like the Denver Broncos just overwhelmed and outmatched by Kawada on the biggest stage All Japan could offer at this point. Kojima could not get anything started without Kawada taking over seemingly at will. I did enjoy the throwback to old school All Japan with the surfboard. The only thing stopped me from losing interest in this blowout was that crowd never gave up on Kojima. He was over at the start of the match, when he was getting his ass royally kicked and at the end of the match. Say what you will about Kojima and his modified Ace Crushers, but dude was over and if All Japan had anybody worth a damn at this point he could have been an effective Ace in terms of pleasing their core fanbase. He still cheering for him through the powerbombs, the half crabs and stretch plums.

Now for me, the layout challenged my interest because I didn't believe that Kojima had a puncher's chance. This style of match is pretty tricky because you either make Kojima look like a jabroni if he loses or Kawada look like the biggest choke if he loses. The drama in this type of match usually comes from the guy working underneath having one big home run shot that he can hit that can change the complexion of the match. The problem is Kojima has no such move. His Ace Crusher, which could be his home run (DDP and Orton have utilized it that way) has not been protected. So you have this jarring discontinuity in the match where Kawada kicks his ass for 20 minutes and Kojima does an extended comeback (At one point, Kojima hits a roaring elbow and Tiger Driver and could help think to myself is this a bad Misawa parody. ) rather than a flash comeback. Based on Kawada's selling, I don't think you can make a case for rope-a-dope because he didn't seem to punch himself out rather Kojima just sort of went from getting his ass kicked, to getting his ass less kicked until eventually he won. Kawada was still hitting Back Drop Drivers and drilling brainbusters. It was making him look more ineffective than Kojima strong. You got to love Kawada though because when it is time to sell he is totally committed as he sells this weird top wristlock/arm figure-4 like death even though Kojima shoulders should be counted down. Kawada hits another back drop driver and powerbomb. From a kayfabe perspective, how the hell did he lose. The Kojima lariat barrage was really well done because of the escalation of the lariats and Kawada's selling.

I enjoy Kawada kicking people's asses, dont get me wrong. I think they tried to shoehorn Kojima into a role that he did not fit. As much as I mocked Kojima for his Ace Crusher variations, he is not a horrible wrestler. They could have worked a momentous title change to mark the passing of the guard from Kawada to Kojima. I just thought the match was far too disjointed from the opening 20 minute ass whupping and a standard extended comeback when Kojima needed some bigger spots. I know was awfully harsh on this match, but I think it demonstrates a really strong point of how a certain guy is not right for a given layout. That being said Kawada was really fucking good in this match. He escalated his offense throughout and was making Kojima earn his comeback. I just wish there was a stronger spot that said this is where the match went off the rails for Kawada and he really started to have to scramble. It never felt that Kawada was in trouble until he taking lariats and it was over. ***1/2

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These two match up pretty well - Kawada is fully grizzly by this stage and has great offence, Kojima exudes an optimism and sells well. Lots of stuff to like about this and a fun last 10 minutes. They never really go overboard though, I don't really know why Dave allegedly rated this 4 3/4.

 

I say 3 3/4 and quite fun.

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