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Charles (Loss)

[2001-04-11-NOAH-Navigation For The Victory] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Jun Akiyama

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Fun Misawa vs Akiyama action. The double count out leading to the restart makes it feel unique and lends a sense of urgency to the finishing stretch. Still, it's way behind their 2000 match and isn't even as good as their GHC title match.

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Mitsuharu Misawa vs Jun Akiyama - GHC Heavyweight Championship SemiFinals 04/11/01

 

After a pretty ho-hum 2000 (well besides putting on the Match of the Decade), Misawa needed to be re-established as the Man in NOAH especially with Kobashi being out for 2001 and majority of 2002. This leads to a weird retrogression in the Misawa/Akiyama series and again the problem with never totally committing to Akiyama. Akiyama would win the GHC Championship from Misawa, but here he seems like Misawa's whipping boy. Misawa was coming back at will. Where in 2000, Akiyama dominated after Misawa crashed and burned on elbow from the apron, Misawa rocked Akiyama with elbows so he never ever got anything going. Really the match felt like an exhibition for Misawa's offense. Misawa looked fantastic, pretty much best he ever did in 21st Centruy looking nimble and energetic and Akiyama sold and bumped for him great. It just made Akiyama look a little weak. I liked the double countout on the floor with Misawa hitting a Tiger Driver and Akiyama hiitng an Exploder. It protects Akiyama a bit. They restart the match because there must be a winner!

 

The finishing stretch is a great sprint with Akiyama looking to put Misawa away with a big high knee, brainbuster and his new and still lethal guillotine choke. Misawa is able to make the ropes. The actual finish is roll-up reversals with Misawa coming out on top is very fresh for NOAH given ho accustomed we are too definitive finishes. It was a fun exhibition for Misawa and a return to form for The Man, just a bit disappointing it came at Akiyama's expense. ***3/4

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As stated previously by others, this is smart and simple compared to their other matches, plus you get a distinct finish which isn't the norm in Noah and it gives this match an identity of it's own. That Tiger Driver on the outside was pretty brutal as you can see Akiyama's bounce off the floor.

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Pretty much evenly matched throughout, with them going through their usual routine. I liked the back-and-forth struggle for the Tiger Driver/Exploder, with Misawa hitting the double arm suplex when Akiyama struggles too much. That Tiger Driver on the floor was gnarly and then Akiyama answers with an Exploder on the floor. I liked the collision at the restart and the finish was interesting -- a good match with a couple of great moments.

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This was all right. I like the idea of crafty old Misawa trying to get by on his wiles except for the fact that he's still being presented as the top guy. That's pretty stupid given the fact that he doesn't have the same eye for detail that he did in his prime and his body keeps betraying the fact that he's broken down. Akiyama should be about to take him in these matches. To be honest, it makes him look bad that he still lays down for the boss. Remember that young rebellious guy who wouldn't lay down for the top guys anymore? The guy who threw away his mask and turned into a gigantic star overnight. Wrestling wasn't as hot in the early 00s as it had been a decade earlier but Akiyama needed some type of springboard to tell everyone he'd arrived and this wasn't gonna do it. I hated the reset, btw. That was lame. In the end, the result maintained the status quo, which I don't think was particularly helpful for these lean times but I'd probably have a gripe with Akiyama even if he'd won so I'm probably just bitching for the sake of it. 

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