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Charles (Loss)

[2005-10-01-ROH-Joe vs Kobashi] Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi

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Dream Match

Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi
I put a lot of effort into understanding this match. Before watching this for my rewatch, I watched numerous acclaimed matches of Kobashi's in NOAH, starting with his classic GHC Heavyweight Title victory over one of his greatest rivals, Mitsuharu Misawa. Other classic matches along the way included Yuji Nagata, Kensuke Sasaki, Yoshihiro Takayama, Jun Akiyama, and Akitoshi Saito. I hope that my readers feel I have done this match justice.
After watching the match, I also went to the two most conflicting reviews, because while I will of course never 100% agree with anyone on everything, I respect the perspective these two have when reviewing and discussing wrestling.
The first is 411Mania's Mike Campbell, but I will link to his direct site: http://splashmountain.150m.com/reviews/joevskobashi.htm
The other is Dave Meltzer, the most esteemed journalist in the history of the business: http://pwchronicle.blogspot.com/2005/11/dave-meltzer-on-kenta-kobashisamoa-joe.html
Now, on to the match itself.
There are so many times in wrestling that the fans have to sit through a lot of bullshit. Terrible gimmicks, titles getting buried, go-nowhere storylines, storylines that never have a proper finish, rushed decision-making, and most of all a lot of horrendous professional wrestling.
What is rare are those special moments, those truly special ones that stand the test of time, that will forever be etched in the memories of all witnesses. A moment that makes fans realize that all the shit they sit through as fans of this business, there is a payoff. Now for ROH, a moment like that had already happened in 2005 when Austin Aries and CM Punk provided a WrestleMania quality moment at Death Before Dishonor III. I'm sure any reasonable fan of ROH would've been satisfied with just that one in 2005, or may have felt they got that already with the other two ROH Title changes that year.
But leave it to Kenta Kobashi to come in to New York City and give the ROH fanbase one more truly unforgettable moment in the same calendar year.
Is this the greatest match ever? Of course not. I don't hold it in as high of esteem as Kobashi vs. Takayama or most of the ROH matches I've given ***** to. But Kobashi came into a rinky-dink little ballroom across the street from Madison Square Garden and gave the absolute best performance he could possibly give with his physical limitations. That's a testament to how badly he wanted his resume to have a classic match on American soil, and also the 15-20 years he had invested in the business telling stories and getting moves over the right way.
Before these two men even lay a finger on each other, the NYC crowd is going apeshit, and who could blame them? They are getting to see the fucking man of ROH, Samoa Joe, collide in what would turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime dream match against KENTA FUCKING KOBASHI.
Just like Takayama and Takeshi Rikio did, Joe slaps Kobashi right in the face when their tie-up gets to the ropes. Of course the crowd goes apeshit for that, and the facial expressions of both men are tremendous. Joe has delivered a simple message: you are not here to collect an easy paycheck in my fucking territory. Not that Kobashi was here to do that, but he did get the reinforced message.
The majority of the match had cream-of-the-crop heat from the crowd, with them popping for just about everything. From Kobashi taking Joe's adopted Kawada kicks, to the chop exchange that was influenced by Kobashi vs. Sasaki, to Kobashi countering Joe's second attempt at the Ole kicks, everything in this match clicked.
Do I believe Joe was buried in any way in this match, despite him throwing almost everything out there while Kobashi gave a taste of his arsenal? Not in the least. Kobashi understood throughout his career the importance of not burying moves, and it paid off in fucking spades on this night. Meanwhie, Joe put forth a phenomenal effort to elevate himself. Let's be honest here: Joe was the underdog going into this one based on star power alone.
Joe also got a taste of his own medicine. I've stated numerous times that many of Joe's opponents had never faced an opponent as physical and dominating as him. And on this night, Kobashi would be the most physical and dominating opponent Joe has faced to date. That is why despite unleashing everything but the Island Driver, Kobashi was able to put Joe away with a fraction of his offense. The blows Joe took both in strikes and head-drops (especially the last one being a very, very painful looking sleeper suplex) were too much for him.
Post-match, Joe cuts a promo and looks to be in BAD shape. No wonder he phones it in for a low-rent federation like TNA now after seeing him here. Meanwhile, Kobashi is interviewed and looks like he could go another round right then and there.
This is another defining match of the 2000s decade. It is not something I recommend watching cold. I had to put in a lot of viewing of both ROH and NOAH to truly appreciate, grasp, and understand the story and structure of this match, as well as why the crowd was so ecstatic to witness this true example of a dream match. I have a few more months to go, but from an objective standpoint, I must admit that so far this IS ROH's match of the year for 2005.
Rating: *****

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This still has some magic to it. The relatively intimate setting and cameras really play up the spectacle of Kobashi beating the tar out of Joe. They worked as roughly equals but, Joe in a NOAH setting would be more on the level of Low-ki, KENTA, maybe Morishima. I think the accomplishment of the match is Kobashi working in this setting and finding a niche for Joe to look like he could pull out a win. Really, it was about Joe taking Kobashi's best shots.

 

People new to puro should go back and check this out!

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It gets mentioned literally everytime this match is discussed, but Kobashi's face as he walks through the curtain & hears the monster pop he received truly is something special. The match is still as magical as it was the first time I watched it - Joe & Kobashi beat the shit out of each other w/ a legendary atmosphere. Everybody knows about the hard hitting, amazing strikes in this one, but the story of Joe not showing any special-kind of respect to Kobashi, but instead showing him that Ring of Honor is Joe's house right from the get go is awesome. Loved him using Kawada's & Tenryu's signature moves, his facial expression during the Stretch Plum is priceless. Truly one of the most special, memorable matches of all-time, and simply one of the best. *****

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Kenta Kobashi vs Samoa Joe - ROH 10/1/05

I wish you could bottle the electricity and emotion in the building for this match. Samoa Joe at his peak wrestling his idol. Kenta Kobashi just after his tremendous, historic heavyweight championship reign wrestling in America for the first time. Ring Of Honor, which was basically a puroresu promotion in America, achieving its pinnacle by having the biggest Puroresu star in American's eyes against their biggest star. Then what I believe could be the greatest crowd of all time just marking out each every and every second. What a tremendous package! They could have gone out and read the fucking phone book and we would have all marked out! What a dream match! The match I wish the most that I got to see live. I have never watched this match until right now and I was marking out just like everybody else. I don't think this is *****. I am not trying to be a Debbie-Downer, but it is a Greatest Hits of All Japan done in America. That's exactly what it was supposed to be! I am grinning like a Cheshire Cat throughout the whole thing. Watching Samoa Joe do Kawada Kicks and Kobashi's response was just magic. The look on Kobashi's face throughout the match as he scanned the arena. I don't think he could believe he was so fucking over. I wonder if he was thinking "Baba should have had touring over here!". Kobashi was at his Kobashi The Destroyer asskicking best turning Samoa Joe's chest purple. The main criticism I hear of this match is that it is Chopbashi. It is definitely Chopbashi. He was coming off the big Dome match with Sasaki and it is wrestled very much in that vein. It works in this setting because the match truly is a dream match. When you are watching it, you actually feel like you are dreaming. Like Kobashi in a ring that says ROH and surrounded by a bunch of Northeast Maniacs! That surrealness plays into the larger than life effect. Chopbashi is larger than life. Another reviewer said this match is half about Joe eating Kobashi's spots. We were all marking out of the Half Nelson and Sleeper Suplexes! That was incredible! I think Joe definitely looked credible against Kobashi. Another reviewer said Joe is basically a midcarder in NOAH, which was true but in America he was top dog and Kobashi let him do top dog things. The dive elbow through ropes ala Misawa gave Joe the advantage at the beginning. I loved the running facewash and how Kobashi countered it. That was a great bump by Joe into crowd off the chop! It was a very selfless performance by Joe. Joe's powerbomb into an array of submissions came off really great because of how well Kobashi was struggling. That was probably the best version I have seen of that sequence because Joe was properly reacting to Kobashi getting close to the ropes. When it came time, Kobashi DESTROYED Joe and I am sure Joe was marking out like the rest of us as Kobashi was chopping his chest purple! BURNING LARIAT! They did not overstay their welcome. The match was just one extended Mark Out Sequence and it was glorious! ****1/2  

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