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[2003-03-16-NOAH] Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Jun Izumida vs Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima & Daisuke Ikeda

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Akiyama, Saito & Izumida vs Rikio, Morishima & Ikeda, NOAH March 16th 2003

 

Background: Morishima and Marufuji have a tag title shot against Akiyama and Saito at the end of the tour, so this is designed to build towards it. Oddly enough two lead-ins made the cut but not the title match, which had a weak first half due to its length.

 

Why I think it's underrated: For those of us brought up with US wrestling there's no inherent appeal to a 6-man, especially before the Shield win streak. In Japan it's an integral part of booking and on occasion produces standout matches. Unlike most 6-man tags, this starts hot and sustains a lot of intensity throughout. Ikeda, who tends to take it easy in NOAH, brings his A-game for a change. Even the problematic Izumida contributes.

 

What it deserves: Top 100. They do a great job of making the action unpredictable, and when you add in the pace and stiffness it's all the better.

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This is a totally wild brawl. Probably the best 6 man tag NOAH ever had. The brawling around the arena is well done and everything looks pretty sick. This is one of those rare Izumida matches where he actually looks really good. This more chaotic environment makes the two Takeshis look better. If you were put off by the Akiyama/Saito vs Takeshis GHC tag team match you should still give this a try as it's much much better.

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Sterness (Jun Akiyama, Akitoshi Saito, Jun Izumida) vs Daisuke Ikeda & Wild II (Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima) - NOAH 3/16/03

 

NOAH from inception to the Koabashi title loss was a really cool promotion. Yes, they had a main event style, but there were a lot of neat matches that were a departure of "EPIC" Main event matches. You had the fun Ogawa matches, the stiff Takayama appearances, the early KENTAFuji stuff, the quick Misawa matches all that made for a very diverse card. Here we get a crazy brawl that even includes a concession stand brawl not as epic as the ones in Memphis nor do they end up in the women's bathroom, but for NOAH this was crazy shit. Hell, the match began with a masked man (I assume Marufuji) hitting a sliced bread on Akiyama on the ramp. I love those little twists every so often and it was a great way to jump start the match. From there, Morishima and Rikio are just killing Akiyama. I love how they target the top dog rather the usual policy of going after the low man on the totem pole (Izumida). It was another cool wrinkle. They do a good job showing how this man advantage allows them to keep Saito at bay while they try to get the quick pin on Akiyama. Then Ikeda, who delivers a heel perfromance similar to a Murakami or Ogawa, drags Akiyama to the concession stand. I loathe arena brawling for the most part, but this was really well-done. Back in the ring, Akiyama just owns it selling this beating. It is scary it is not even his best selling of the year because of the Tenzan G-1 Climax match. It was great getting to see Akiyama in this role because as the heel in the Kobashi matches you don't see this side of him and he is very good at it. ikeda and Takeshis really heel it up with double teams and cheating. Then in a true shocker there is a great strike exchange between Akiyama and Morishima. It is a great strike exchange because of the context. It was not just shoehorned in there or because it was supposed to be there. Morishima had started to punch himself out and Akiyama was using the ropes to hold himself up starts throwing slaps. Then BOOM Jumping Knee to tag out to Saito. The finish run falls a little flat. I thought Saito and Izumida were fine hot tags and Morishima sold well and Ikeda was a great prick, but it was a little too strike exchange-happy. The best part was when Akiyama finally got back in and just starts hammering Morishima with closed fists loved it. The actual finish is pretty anticlimatic because the two of the six least important members finish with Rikio pinning Izumida when neither did that much. The wild post-match brawl salvages it some as Akiyama goes crazy with a chair. In fact, I would say that a no contest finish with a crazy post-match brawl would have improved the match and put more heat on Sterness' upcoming tag title defense against Morishima & Marufuji. As it stands, a really fun NOAH brawl that you wish you see more of. Not the best NOAH six-man ever that belongs to the first Kobashi six-man of 2008, but something borderline to making my top 100. ***3/4

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