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[2003-03-30-NOAH-Encountering Navigation] Tamon Honda vs Akitoshi Saito

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Lead-in to Kobashi vs. Honda, so it made sense for me to watch it. Honda tries his damnedest to make Saito look good. Doesn't help that Saito is a guy who took all the wrong lessons from All Japan in the 90s. Also, Honda's jumping enzuigiri is better than Saito's, who uses it as a finisher. Bleh.

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You're crazy. This is one of my ten favorite NOAH singles matches. Saito's strikes are nasty and Honda eats a huge beating before using his strength and technique to overcome. I never understand the hate that Saito gets because he always looks like he's kicking people's asses to me. Honda is obviously better and he makes this match but Saito is far from useless.

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This is such a great match. Really made by the contrast in styles and them trying to show each other up. Saito lands some huuuuge deadlift germans and locks in the Olympic on Honda, making it clear he has no respect for the olympic veteran. The stand up sections are really great here as each elbow and kick lands with bad intention. Some incredibly stiff shots there that get the crowd rocking. Honda's selling is top notch. It all builds to a great finishing run as Honda makes Saito pay dearly by locking in one Hell after another another. Several great counters including Saito countering another Olympic hell by launching Honda into the air. March 2003 was one hell of a month for NOAH.

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I remember loving this in 2003 and damn does it hold up. Tremendous, tremendous match, there are a bunch of very well respected wrestlers who have never been in a match this good. Honda's knee selling was awesome, I loved how he kept slapping at it to work out the kinks. Finishing run was bonkers, all of the counter work around the Olympic Hell variations was insane. I especially loved Saito's suplex counter to the Olympic Hell, and the Honda getting uranaged and slapping on the Hell from the bottom.

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