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Charles (Loss)

[2001-09-01-NOAH-Departure] Daisuke Ikeda vs Tamon Honda

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These are two of my favorite Puro workers ever, and this one of my favorite Puro matches. Honda missed his calling as a BattlArts guys, and all I want for my birthday is to see all of his FUTEN matches. This is the semi final match of a mini tourney for a GHC title shot and felt like a big deal. Honda is an Olympic wrestler and he has some really amazing takedowns, just tremendous speed and force. Meanwhile Ikeda is throwing nasty kicks and clotheslines. It was basically striker versus grappler as Ikeda had the advantage on the feet while Honda took control on the mat. Finish was great with Honda doing as nasty leg grabbed takedown and quickly shifted into multiple variations of Olympic Hells until he grabbed one that finished him.

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I never got to see much Honda after he stopped headbutting people over and over. This is something I have to remedy. Honestly this match wouldn't have been out of place in Battlarts at all. Honda getting the better of it early until Ikeda finally scores a small victory on the ground. Ikeda's pride is put to rest now and he goes to his bread & butter, kicking Honda over and over. The only part I don't care for are the lariat nosells. Dammit I hate those.

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This match is everything I could have wanted from two of my favorite wrestlers of the 2000s. I love the NOAH midcard during this era and this is probably the best singles match the midcard ever created. Honda's mat wrestling is so spectacular. He is ridiculously strong and you can see it in every takedown. In order to build Honda's mat skills as a threat to Akiyama they really pushed the matwork during this tournament. I doubt anyone else in NOAH would have looked as comfortable on the mat with Honda as Ikeda. Probably a top 5 NOAH match.

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I knew as soon as finished this match I would be in the minority regarding this one. The match was built around selling, which I love, but they were still trading moves with little rhyme or reason towards the end and there a lack of struggle after the early part of the match. I honestly thought Honda was overselling. Besides the cross armbreaker, Ikeda really did not get much in the way of offense and yet Honda was selling like it was an even match. It disguised the match as competitive when Honda was actually crushing him. I thought it was quite good and very different than the usual main event NOAH fare, but nothing as special as others have mentioned.

 

Tamon Honda vs Daisuke Ikeda - NOAH 09/01/01

 

NOAH was running in a small building with stained glass, a very interesting setting for a very interesting match. There was nothing about this bout that said NOAH. It would have felt more at home in New Japan or even in BattlArts. This is not surprising as Ikeda cut his teeth at Fujiwara's Gym and the original BattlArts. Ikeda likes to kick people hard. Honda is an Olympic wrestler and looks to neutralize Ikeda with takedowns. Honda does not have his facial hair so he does not look like the world's ugliest pro wrestler. It feels like early UFC where the wrestler takes down a striker, but does not how to finish him off down there and just smothers him. Ikeda proves why Honda has taken this strategy with flurries of kicks, but finally evens the match with a cross armbreaker. If you respect the cross armbreaker, I respect you. Honda definitely respected the cross armbreaker with his selling. This match is totally built around selling, which is a great contrast the big bomb nature of most NOAH matches. However, there was still a distinct lack of struggle and not much in the way of a story once the wrestler vs. grappler story ended. Good example was Honda powerbomb -> Ikeda triangle -> Honda leg lace with not signs of struggle. I loved Ikeda using the ropes to counterweight a Honda throw, but soon they just throwing each other around. It makes sense for Honda to go for throws, but I would have liked to seen Ikeda use his striking ability to counteract Honda. Honda is eventually able to pick up a submission victory over Ikeda. I see why a lot people like this match. It is minimalist match centered around selling. Personally, I thought Honda was overselling. I understood selling the arm, but he was selling general fatigue and pain like Ikeda was having a competitive match with him. Ikeda did not get much in the way of offense. Even before Ikeda's back drop driver, Honda was selling like he had been through a war and all Ikeda had done was a cross armbreaker. Honda's selling effectively disguised this as more competitive as it was. I enjoyed it as something very different than the NOAH's main event scene. They could have used this diversity more as the decade progressed. ***1/2

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Fujiwara trainee vs Olympic Wrestler. Hell Yeah. The mat wrestling was really fun and the crowd popping big for that knee bar rules. Not much to say on this other than this was a really good match. ***1/2

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