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[2001-01-13-NOAH-First Navigation] Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs Shinya Hashimoto & Alexander Otsuka

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Misawa vs Hashimoto is MAGIC. Hashimoto mauling Ogawa is MAGIC. Otsuka gets sorta starched and that really prevents this from being a top-tier bout like the March tag. Probably on my ballot, but not top 50.

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I really liked Ogawa having to prove himself early to both Hash and Otsuka. Then the later vertical suplex on Hashimoto was epic given the struggle it took to get even that. Misawa vs. Hashimoto was all kinds of awesome. This will make my ballot somewhere most likely.

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A Misawa vs Hashimoto singles match would have made my head explode. This is a great tease of the March tag but it is always going to be disappointing to me because I love Otsuka and he is basically treated like a nonentity here.

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Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs Shinya Hashimoto & Alexander Otsuka - NOAH 1/13/01

Holy Shit! A single Tiger Driver actually won a match! Thats Batshit Insane! I really need to rewatch the March tag because I loved this. However, my big problem is that Ogawa makes so much more sense in the role of undersized douche than Akiyama who I thought got destroyed in the match. Hashimoto and Otsuka made their intentions clear that they want Misawa and that Ogawa is just getting in their way. I love Misawa's demeanor. He has total faith in Ogawa. He is not hiding behind him, but he believes in him and wants him to wrestle. For the most part, this does not go too well for Ogawa especially when Hashimoto the Destroyer was in there. Hashimoto vs. Kobashi in 2003:The World Implodes? Hashimoto and Misawa was friggin bitchin. Easily the best strike exchange of the 2000s just great weight and meaning behind each one. Hashimot goes down first, but comes back with overhand chops and stays on top of Misawa with stomps. This draws the young boys to the apron and a great tense staredown. Hashimoto gives one a shove. I would have loved a melee then restart. Misawa comes outta the corner with a big elbow. In a way they worked a mini-match with a Hashimoto heat and Misawa comeback that was very satisfying. The match continues with Otsuka working a solid heat on Misawa who decks him with an elbow. Ogawa does not the sustain the advantage for long. By God, the crowd is chanting for "Ogawa!". Hashimoto is destroying him with these kicks. Hashimoto goes for a brainbuster, but there is struggle, and some more struggle and finally an eyepoke, HUGE POP! OGAWA SUPLEX! Ogawa/Misawa run through some great double teams, but Hashimoto breaks up pinfall attempt. Hashimoto is relentless attacking Misawa until Ogawa pulls him off and Misawa hits the Tiger Driver for the win.

Hashimoto just seemed like one mean bastard. He was going out of his way to prove He was The Man to Misawa and it generated so much great heat. Otsuka was serviceable as number two. Ogawa was so perfect for this role in every way that Akiyama was not. He was fit to get his ass kicked, but it all built to him getting an eyepoke and a suplex. It was the ultimate Japanese pro wrestling moment of "He may be an asshole, but he is OUR asshole!" Really need to rewatch March match. ***1/2

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This was so great. Hash & Otsuka is one of those fun parejas increibles that comes from early 00s Japan when people started showing up in random NOAH tags.

 

So here we have Hash and Misawa facing off in an epic battle of the ultimate puro aces, and the best thing about this match is Yoshinara Fucking Ogawa!

 

He was screwed enough being tossed around by Otsuka, who was way more worried about goading Misawa into the ring. Then he finally tags Hash and Hash doesn't even deign to LOOK at Ogawa. That whole opening bit, he doesn't even give Ogawa the courtesy of looking at him while he's eyeballing Misawa. To him Ogawa is basically like an ant that he's trodden on, on the way to fighting his opponent.

 

And through all this, Ogawa never gives up the fight, that poor outmatched bugger, and Misawa never stops trusting him to do the job even though he's a poor outmatched bugger. And it all leads up to his big confrontation with Hash, where he tries to engage him in a strike battle, loses, but refuses to be suplexed and busts out an Ogawa eye poke in order to SUPLEX HASH! That was awesome.

 

He's great at the finish as well. They reach the point of "my guy is going to finish him off, so I better knock the other guy off the apron" but Ogawa is so hilariously inept that his first attempt barely moves Hash and Hash breaks up the pin, and then he starts just wailing on Misawa, and Ogawa is powerless until he resorts to simply choking Hash from behind and kind of hugging/dragging him away. He looks RIDICULOUS, like a little kid trying to tackle a linebacker, but in true Ogawa fashion it just works enough, allowing Misawa to get the win.

 

Oh and also, Hash and Misawa beat the shit out of each other.

 

I enjoyed this.

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Misawa just staying outside while both Otsuka and even more Hashimoto only wanted to deal with him was terrific psychology. Even at this point, Misawa was still a brillant worker. It's sad there's this idiotic stereotype about headropping, because it was such a small part of what made AJPW and Misawa. The strike exchange was great because it had intent and meaning, it was not an obligatory spot by every damn worker on the card. And the exchange had weight with every shot, there was a dynamic within itself. Ogawa was the standout though in term of carrying the workload of the match, getting killed by Hash but not giving up and being a sneaky bastard when needed. Every Misawa's intervention was done at the right moment. Hash still had some aura left after the Ogawa debacle, teasing a dream match with Misawa did him a lot of good here. Very good match and a terrific job of building anticipation.

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The Hash vs Misawa interactions are fantastic. They both knock each other down with strikes but Hash follows up with a stiff kick to the chest that leads to a standoff with the ringside support. Awesome heat.

 

Otsuka and Ogawa are great secondary team members. This match is a lot of fun, and the post-match is fun too. I need to see more early 2000's NOAH because everything I have seen I have enjoyed.

 

I wish we had Misawa vs Hash in a singles.

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This is all about the Misawa and Hashimoto tease. Those brief exchanges we got between them were great. Hashimoto berating Misawa in the corner with kicks and stomps and shoving the ref. away with the Noah boys confronting him was great. Ogawa and Otsuka are mostly just here along for the ride, but Ogawa eyepoking Hashimoto to counter a brainbuster was pretty great as was Hashimoto berating Misawa with punches to the ear and Ogawa doing everything he could to train and restrain him. Really fun match.

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This was really fun. The anticipation of Hashimoto and Misawa interacting was built really well but the standout here was Ogawa, who did such a good job of selling the beating from Hashimoto while also defending Misawa and never backing down. I loved him choking Hashimoto off Misawa toward the end and pinning him against the corner while Misawa pinned Otsuka with the Tiger Driver. Otsuka looked good but was definitely just a warm body for this match. Hashimoto really played up his badassery here, calling out Misawa and hacking through Ogawa to get to him. And of course, Misawa was Misawa.

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Hashimoto was such a legend. I doubt we'll see another like him. Every time he walks down the ring it sends shivers down my spine. Misawa is obviously no slouch. In his prime, he was arguably the greatest pro-wrestler of all-time. However, there is no question in my mind that Hashimoto had him beat in terms of all of the bushido shit that we talk about when it comes to Japanese wrestlers. The match-up was 4-5 years too late for Misawa so I'm not sure how I'd feel about them squaring off in their primes but 2001 Hashimoto seemed greater than 2001 Misawa in my eyes. This was a fun scrap but didn't have a ton of depth. The inter-promotional bar is set pretty high in Japan so excuse me if this didn't knock my socks off. The fact that there wasn't a pay-off makes it a bit of a "what could have been" foxhole as well. But, as I said, it was a fun scrap. 

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