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[2003-04-13-NOAH-Encountering Navigation] Kenta Kobashi vs Tamon Honda

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GHC Heavyweight Champion Kenta Kobashi vs Tamon Honda - NOAH 4/13/03

This is my first Tamon Honda match and I don't think I got him until the tag title match after this so I will need to rewatch this match down the line. I thought it was a great match, but not an elite match. It is a perfect first title defense for Kobashi against a solid midcarder, who had some solid victories in 2002 and a very good Olympic record in freestyle wrestling. Plus established Honda as Kobashi's #2 and a reputable tag partner. This has to be Honda's career performance with a great array of throws and submissions to try put down Kobashi. Kobashi just has too much game for Honda, who is outgunned by the new champion.

The beginning match establishes just that: Kobashi is the champion and he is going to control the beginning because he is the better wrestler. Now, Honda is the game from the beginning going for cradles and being able to throw Kobashi on a headlock, but cant turn the tide early against the offensive juggernaut that is Kobashi. Kobashi DDTs him on the ramp and it looks like nothing can stop him. Until in a badass spot, Honda German suplexes Kobashi over the ropes onto the ramp. Now thats creatively badass. As is a staple of Kobashi matches, his opponent goes to work on the arm to take away the Lariat and the chop. Kobashi is such a master seller of this every time out and sells the cross-armbreaker very well. Honda goes back to the top wristlock to quash any Kobashi resistance. Honda freaking headbutts Kobashi's arm. Kobashi nails the back drop driver and sells the arm well, but you know it is coming, the Orange Tsunami is going to overwhelm Honda, a DDT and 2 half-nelson suplexes confirm it. Honda gamely tries to hold on by grabbing his Olympic Hell (did not realize this was a finish just thought it was a chinlock until after I did some reading.). Honda starts throwing Kobashi around climaxing with a top rope German suplex and again goes back to Olympic Hell. He can't put him away and goes for the powerbomb. Kobashi-rana and LARIAT!!! The end is nigh as they show the GHC title. Out of nowhere, spear by Honda. Honda force Kobashi over on the German, but eats a LARIAT. Everybody is out. Honda one last pin attempt before sleepr suplex and BURNING LARIAT continue Kobashi's title reign.

 

Kobashi worked the match much more underneath relying on his selling to get match over and in turn helping to make Honda look like a credible threat. Honda impressed me with throws and his work on the arm. Once I realized Olympic Hell was more than a intensely held chinlock I think I would like this match even more. I could see why some detractors of Kobashi who go after his offensive-laden matches may choose this as a shining example of a great Kobashi match. I thought it was perfect way to start a title reign, but at the same time allows to be even greater matches down the road rather than blowing your wad all at once. ****1/4

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I pegged this as #1 for 2003 the last time around. The reasons why this is a standout- Honda's bumping, the underdog story, the dramatic finishing run- are well established. But what puts this ahead of the pack is the solid pacing and the many nifty details. For instance, Honda setting up an armbar by dropping on Kobashi's chest is something I don't recall seeing in any match before or since. I don't hesitate to call this a MOTDC, and I'd be surprised if it's lower than 10th place on my ballot.

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Okay, this is my working #2 match. One extra half nelson keeps it from being number 1. So much awesome here. Honda's takedowns all look absolutely spectacular. Honda's bumping for the big suplexes is ridiculously awesome. The headlock sequence they work about 8 minutes in is all kinds of incredible. This is the kind of match I LOVE out of Kenta Kobashi. He's so damn good at using great matwork to build to his big suplexes and strikes. It's just that he never does it. But against Honda, it only makes sense that Kobashi works that style of match. And damned if it doesn't work out amazingly well. So many small things too. Like the really awesome rolling Olympic hell that put Saito away gets put on Kobashi. He's actively pushing Honda's arms away from his neck and trying to get his arm over the top of Honda's head as he squirms to the ropes. THAT is the Kenta Kobashi I love watching. I've read that Kobashi 'got out of the way" for this match. If you watch enough early 90s Kobashi, you'll see that this sort of thing is right up his alley as far as his skillset goes. It's just something the style moved away from, which is a real shame given Kobashi's penchant for working this style of match.

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Will re watch this match. I have this behind the Ogawa , Akiyama, Takayama, and Misawa matches for the Kobashi reign , but given comments this warrants the rewatch. Are there any good Honda matches before this to get a feel for him?

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Will re watch this match. I have this behind the Ogawa , Akiyama, Takayama, and Misawa matches for the Kobashi reign , but given comments this warrants the rewatch. Are there any good Honda matches before this to get a feel for him?

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The one vs. Ikeda will give you a feel for how Honda works. Also, it's very close to Battlarts style, surprising for NOAH.

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This is my favorite NOAH match. I wrote a little bit about this match on WKO while also discussing Kobashi's ghc title reign.

 

 

Kobashi is overrated but he does bring a certain presence and charisma and he works hard despite his limitations. Of course, what really makes these matches is that he had a lot of great opponents to work with. The 2003 match with Honda is the best NOAH match I've seen so far and Honda does look like the best wrestler in the world in that match. That's not to say that Kobashi isn't essential to that match's greatness. The dead end german on the ramp is a great transition and makes the crowd believe that Honda has a chance but it only works because Kobashi is such a big mountain to climb.

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The match is better than I initially gave it credit for, which I think was hurt by the fact I was not totally bought into Honda. I still found some things about Honda awkward: his strikes and some of his submissions especially that top wristlock in the middle, it really never looked properly applied to cause damage. It is nice to see Kobashi work in this most minimalist setting. Personally, I am going to be partial the spectacle matches against Misawa, Ogawa and Takayama. He is such a great larger than life character, but damn if he does not have one helluva headlock. I love how he dominates with holds but is looking to use these holds to setup his offense. Very smartly, Honda is not one to lay down and take it he tries to use these opening, but damn how about those quick quashes by Kobashi like the ab stretch and Russian Legsweep. I know Honda gets a lot of due in this match, which he deserves for the great armwork and suplexes. Maybe I am just swinging the counterweight back in my boy, Kobashi's direction, but after watching this twice there is no way Honda outworked Kobashi. The cross armbreaker sell, the arm selling, fighting through the pain to retain his title injured, Kobashi was on fire making people believe that Honda had a shot. Honda had some neat characteristics that forced Kobashi out of his comfort zone, but so did Minoru Suzuki. I think match is better than the Suzuki match, but this not just solely great because of Honda or Kobashi's presence. It is Kobashi putting Honda's ability early with quick transitions, working holds, and then selling his ass off, before hitting the finish. It is a cool title defense, but does not do it for me in the way of the upper tier of Kobashi title defenses. Still rewatching this did raise it 30 spots and put it in my 30s. Very good Kobashi title defense.

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What does it say about Kobashi's GHC title run when a match this excellent is only #5 in terms of quality (behind Akiyama, Misawa, Takayama and Ogawa for me).

 

Maybe I am just swinging the counterweight back in my boy, Kobashi's direction, but after watching this twice there is no way Honda outworked Kobashi.

 

Yep. Honda was pretty good here but the idea that this is a Honda carryjob (something I have read people say) is pretty laughable to be honest. This is definitely the Kenta Kobashi show. What a performance to get himself across as the tough and resourceful champion while presenting the underdog Honda as a serious threat who can topple him and selling the hell out of all of his offense and the arm work. **** 1/4

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One of my favorite NOAH matches ever. When you look at Honda, the gross pawn shop ponytail and facial hair, the loose singlet, the scraggy arms...he doesn’t look like much. The way he moves around is awkward at best but when he’s on the mat or transitioning into a hold, Honda’s a bona fide killer elite. He’s the ultimate best-est underdog against Kobashi, and almost immediately gets dominated by the alpha…you know, until he delivers a third rope German suplex onto the rampway. This time, Kobashi’s bandaged limb is the arm and Honda zeroes in on it, locking in a jujigatame off a legdrop and refusing to let go on the rope break, the desperation to beat Kobashi stinking off. Loved Honda’s rolling counter to the half nelson suplex attempt, re-establishing in the armlock. Honda doesn’t let up until Kobashi pops off spinning backchops and dumps Honda with gnarly half nelson suplexes. Honda drops some bombs of his own too, including a top rope German suplex. When he applies the STF, he uses his heads to trap Kobashi’s arm and then transitions into the anaconda vise. Kobashi looks dead in that hold and it’s such a terrific visual. His facials in general are pretty great, including when he’s getting yanked off the ropes by Honda’s German suplex. Incredible finishing stretch as Honda counters the short-range lariat with a cradle for an awesome nearfall and then proceeds take Kobashi’s brutal sleeper suplex like a champ-e-on, finally succumbing to the Burning Lariat. Love this match.

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First of all :

 

Honda was pretty good here but the idea that this is a Honda carryjob (something I have read people say) is pretty laughable to be honest.

 

ah, yeah, the good old days of DVDVR when every "odd" choice was obviously much better than the "canon" great workers. Fun times. Well, not really, it was laughable indeed and snobbish as hell. The 00's...

 

Anyway, this is a great match and this is indeed the Kobashi show. Not in the way Kobashi carries a mediocre worker by doing his shit. Not at all. Honda brings plenty to the table. But Kobashi makes everything Honda brings to the table and makes it mean more with his selling, with the way he builds the match toward himself getting vulnerable against a guy who, on paper, has exactly zero chance of winning. Honda has the performance of his life there too, but it's Kobashi's selling and way of working transitions (again, something that has been totally overlooked with times, the cliché of Kobashi being reduced to "headropping galore and siff shots") that make the most out of everything Honda brings. Slowly but surely, it ends up with legit nearfalls and drama, through a way full of neat stuff (Honda's amateur offense bring a whole different aspect and they really work wonders around this element). You gotta applaud Misawa's booking too in the early days of NOAH to condition the fans that really anything was possible (Jun making himself and Kobashi tap out or Ogawa winning the title) which probably helped too. But come on, Chono was right there waiting in line, Honda had no chance in hell of winning. And yet, you believe he does. great performance by Kobashi and yes, great performance by Honda, who's a quite interesting worker (if Brock Lesnar could take notes…). Terrific first title defense. Borderline MOTYC level.

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Being a career midcarder at this point, Tamon Honda puts in a career performance as a plucky underdog as he tries to dethrone the GHC champion and close friend Kenta Kobashi. Honda has to mat wrestle Kobashi if he wants to stand a chance as it's the only area he surpasses Kobashi in. He goes to take out Kobashi's chopping arm and I'm pleased this limbwork played into the finishing stretch. I have this behind Kobashi's NOAH matches with Akiyama and Misawa. A strong MOTDC. 

★★★★¾

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