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[2000-09-25-NOAH-Exceeding Our Dreams] Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga & Yoshihiro Takayama vs Kenta Kobashi & Takeshi Rikio & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

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I'm not sure if any of the 2000 NOAH will make my top 100 but this match along with the December Kobashi vs Akiyama match and the August tag are contenders (there's also a December 2000 Misawa vs Vader match that's super simple and I really like but isn't nominated).

 

This is notable because combined with the same matchup that occurred 10 days earlier this is the first time it really felt like NOAH. 6 different characters with distinct personalities are matched up against each other. That's true of many classic All Japan 6 mans but for a few years there NOAH had a bigger cast of characters that actually felt important. That's different from Jumbo an lower ranked guys vs Tenryu and lower ranked guys. Takayama had already begun to put everything together but in NOAH he was treated like he was a real threat to the established main eventers. Kikuchi was relevant again, now as a surly vet. Shiga became notable for his use of speed, technique, and leverage to hold his own against bigger opponents. Rikio was an energetic young superheavyweight back then too. This is a fun match and it's mostly because of those four and how Akiyama and Kobashi interact with them. Future NOAH 6 and 8 man tags would do it better but this still holds up as a lot of fun.

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Kenta Kobashi, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Takeshi Rikio vs. Jun Akiyama, Yoshihiro Takayama, Kentaro Shiga - NOAH 9/25/00


The reunion of Kobashi and Kikuchi was cool, but this seemed pretty by the numbers. For once, Akiyama actually looks like the star in a tag match rather than taking the backseat to his team members. He felt like Kobashi's equal coming off choking him out in August. Akiyama was the one who earned the advantage for his team with a big knee to Rikio and later dropkick to Kobashi's knee, which forced Kobashi out of the match. Rikio was the best he looked to me. He was just a raw, strong young dude. All he knew was to use his body as a weapon just throwing it at people and awesome sumo slaps. It is not a sustainable style, but it makes sense for a rookie of his size. However, once the even bigger Takayama was able to use the momentum against him with a knee lift and his partners were detained, Rikio was easy pickings. Takayama and Kobashi is my favorite pairing of the 00s and it was great seeing them lock up. Kobashi was not as overbearing as usual. He was still the weapon of the massive destruction of his team and it was great to see him work with Kikuchi. However, Akiyama was able to detain him with a dropkick to the knee and a figure-4 while Takayama polished off Rikio. Shiga impressed me in 2000 as the plucky underdog. I did not like him as much as the upstart with a chip on his shoulder against Kobashi, but he was servicable. Shiga gets too caught up trying to fight Kobashi on apron that Kikuchi is able to snap off a couple suplexes. The real star of this match is Kikuchi. He worked the short heat segment when he gets too overzealous by challenging Akiyama's team in the corner and Kikuchi suffers for it. He is great at selling, but the beatdown is pretty by the numbers. Surprisingly, Kikuchi works the hot tag and is the best part of the match. He has this crazy spider spot (like Tenryu's Spider German) and just rocks the match. However, Takayama breaks up Kikuchi's rolling Germans, which triggers the Takayama and Rikio finish. If this match happened on RAW, there would be a lot of buzz, but in puroresu we can be a bit spoiled. Kikuchi's performance is standout the rest is pretty much cruise control for everyone else. ***1/4

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If this match happened on RAW, there would be a lot of buzz, but in puroresu we can be a bit spoiled. Kikuchi's performance is standout the rest is pretty much cruise control for everyone else.

Yup. Just look at the famous 10-man from 2000, which was pretty much just a sprint and had a rather abrupt finish, yet is a segment that stands out for anyone who watched it. Part of that was WWE booking the show very well to make the 10-man seem like a huge deal, but still, I think the quality of work and exchanges in this 6-man would get a lot of notice in WWE.

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Rikio steps up to Akiyama to start out and the crowd is living for it. Kobashi then gets in and interacts with his two best 2000 opponents: Akiyama and Takayama. Nothing groundbreaking but a good time. NOAH has already established Takayama as a bigger deal than Omori and rightfully so. Shiga challenges Kobashi and Kobashi snickers at that by giving him some blistering chops that echo around the building. Kikuchi of course gives no shit how big and bad anyone is as he challenges Akiyama and Takayama. He actually gains the advantage on Jun and tags out to young bull, Takeshi. Jun mocks his strikes by taking them and then putting Rikio on his ass with a knee. Tag to Takayama and holy shit does he deliver two kicks to the back that were loud as hell. These guys are beating the piss out of each other. Kikuchi is worked over again as we enter the final moments. Kikuchi fights free and tags in Kobashi to a huge pop and the fight is on. Half Nelson suplex to Akiyama and both men are down. After some more back and forth, Takayama and Rikio find themselves front and center and Takayama takes it out on Rikio again with some knee strikes to the stomach for the pin. I may be going a little bonkers for these six mans but I love them and they have such variety with everyone getting a chance to shine. **** (7.9)

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I thought this was a step up from the previous six man tag. The Takayama and Kikuchi exchanges here weren't as good, but the Kobashi and Shiga exchanges were excellent. Everyone else was on point and put a very good performance. Another fun match.

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This was meathead wrestling even with the little guys involved. Not bad if you like that sort of thing but no different from the New Japan heavies. They try to work in a bit of heelwork but Kikuchi being beaten up in 2000 is hardly cutting edge and Akiyama pinches most of his heel spots from Kawada. Still waiting for NOAH to blaze its way through the Japanese wrestling world. 

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