Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Charles (Loss)

[2004-02-22-AJPW-Excite Series] Toshiaki Kawada vs Shinya Hashimoto

Recommended Posts

All Japan Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada vs Shinya Hashimoto - Budokan 02/22/04

 

If there is one thing the 00s provided in spades, it is dream matches come to life. It is fuckin Kawada vs Hashimoto in the Budokan for the Triple Crown. I threw out all my misgivings about Hashimoto from this decade because I knew this was going to badass. I had seen this before and it did not quite live up to my memory, but it is still a very good match. I will say as much as I hate to admit it the match felt oddly heatless. All Japan was clearly in a rough place because even with this as the main event they only drew 10,500. Just a year previous, Hashimoto/Muta drew a sell out at the Budokan and Hashimoto drew a sell out against friggin' Arashi. So it was not because the Hashimoto was an unknown commodity. I will have to do some research on this, but the match just did not feel as big as it should.

 

Kawada wins the first exchange with a spin kick, but Hashimoto draws first blood from Kawada's ear. Kawada goes for the head stomp/half-crab too early and Hashimoto gets to his knees and makes the ropes. The exchange kicks to each other's knee and Kawada hyperextends his right knee on a kick and Hashimoto pounces. I liked that unique wrinkle. Kawada uses the closed fist to keep him at bay, but Hashimoto sweeps the leg. Hashimoto attacks the knee hard with seat drops, double stomps and leg laces. Just like the Tenryu match, Kawada drops the leg selling. He goes full bore with the big boot and uses the right knee to knee drop Hashimoto's taped up shoulder. I was not happy with the King of Knee Selling pulling this uncharacteristic bullshit. Kawada goes for the cross armbreaker, but is able to get the stretch plum and really focus on the arm. Hashimoto does some great verbal selling here and for the rest of the match. He sounds like a large wounded animal fighting for his life. Hash catches the right leg and punches it. Kick floors Kawada. BRAINBUSTER! However, Hashimoto is in tremendous pain and cant capitalize. He is able to throw some awesome kicks, but he is in too much pain to brainbuster Kawada again. The story becomes can Kawada put Hashimoto away. Remember, he had fellow Z1 cohort, Ogawa on the run, but could not finish him. Again, he has an opponent severely injured, but he just cant seemed to get him off his feet. He is rocking him, but Hashimoto wont fall down. Finally, after a barrage of enziguiris, TIMMMMMMBBBBAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Kawada slaps on the Stretch Plum, but Hashimoto has too much pride to submit so a Z1 suit throws in the towel to save their ace from permanent injury.

 

The finish is an interpromotional bullshit finish and sucks. Regardless of that, I thought Kawada's performance was pretty lifeless and mechanical. He was just going through the motions. Add that he dropped knee selling, it was a pretty disappointing performance especially at this was right in the middle of his big All Japan Triple Crown run that he had a deserved for so long but booking and injuries had denied him. Hashimoto was in peak 90s form here. He was that rockstar badass that just exudes charisma. From destroying Kawada's knee to selling the arm to fighting back to weeble wobble selling before succumbing to the Stretch Plum, he gave an inspired performance to tell the story of a wounded warrior. Unfortunately, this would be Hashimoto last great match (I could be wrong) as he would pass away in September of 2005. It was an uneven, but overall a very good blowoff to the AJ/Z1 feud. ****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Kawada's "fighting through the pain" selling of the leg, then having to break to sell it was good at first, but tapered off too quickly. The modification of the stretch plum to attack Hash's injured shoulder was pretty sweet. Actually, most of the mat stuff they did was incredible. Kawada's kicks near the end were definitely not up to snuff. He did carry on the leg selling even after the match, but I thought there should have been more during. As dream matches go, this was overall pretty good. There were points where it was amazing, but others where it fell short by a ways. Should make my ballot, probably somewhere in the bottom 50. Still better than Kawada vs. Kojima.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love this match and it has a good shot at my top twenty and if I'm in the right mood I could consider it for the top ten. If it helps anybody I want to note that Hashimoto was still selling that shoulder injury at the end of the year. I liked the finish. Maybe it would have been cool to see these guys trade big nearfalls but I think it's cool that what we got instead was a match based around wrestlers targeting one another's injuries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

most disappointing match of the whole project for me, and honestly cements Hashimoto as the most disappointing wrestler of the project. I know his final years aren't exactly his calling card but he did have a few big matches which I've seen highly touted, but they've all fallen way short for me aside from the Jan 4 2000 tag match.

 

I found this to be just really boring. Nothing I latched on to and alot of the stuff towards the end looked sloppy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

most disappointing match of the whole project for me, and honestly cements Hashimoto as the most disappointing wrestler of the project. I know his final years aren't exactly his calling card but he did have a few big matches which I've seen highly touted, but they've all fallen way short for me aside from the Jan 4 2000 tag match.

 

I found this to be just really boring. Nothing I latched on to and alot of the stuff towards the end looked sloppy.

 

I am not that severe on it but this is a match that has disappointed me throughout the years. I have found Kawada's selling to be spotty and feel like this match really was carried by rep alone. ***1/2 star match in my mind, not a classic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still special. I loved the mix of matwork in between some early striking. It’s not out of this world matwork, but it is gritty and has a feeling of struggle so I’m with it. This really opens up of course when we get to the bad limbs, first with Kawada. That might be my favorite spinning low kick from Hashimoto. And then Hashimoto stomping on the leg is awesome. I don’t even really understand the “Kawada no-sells” argument here: he sells great during the segment of attack (his initial “injury” sell and realizing what’s going on is incredible), sells whenever it’s truly attacked down the stretch, and recognizes the pain in “big” moves such as when he limps into the other corner and slaps some feeling back into it before unleashing. Maybe a few less kicks with it sure, but it felt more egregious in the Tenryu ‘00 match than here.

Even then, the MVP of this has to be Hashimoto. When Kawada gets his opening by dropping him on his shoulder, I think we get one of the greatest performances ever from Hashimoto. Again, Kawada breaking out the armbar and blatantly aiming for that shoulder is great, plus we get the first stretch plum focused on the shoulder and a minor foreshadowing of the finish with the towel tease. This then moves into a finishing run based around them throwing kicks and strikes at already mangled body parts, Hashimoto kicking Kawada on the face, Kawada aiming shots at Hashimoto’s shoulder as he tries to scramble away and that awesome Hashimoto collapse spot where he finally falls after taking too many kicks from Kawada. Again, just out of this world stuff. I can even see the idea that some stuff late wasn’t “clean” but when the strikes do land they’re compelling and still carry the damage you’d want to see. I even love the TKO finish because of course Hash isn’t gonna know when to quit. Just a classic as far as I’m concerned.

I think I love Hashimoto matches like this or the Ogawa feud as a whole because it subverts what we all love seeing Hash do which is destroy people and instead turns into him selling brutal beatings while having to find creative ways to get on offense or end up faced with insurmountable odds. The fact that the final arc of Hashimoto’s career is him having to fight through a bad shoulder like some kind of warrior almost seems fitting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even for two beaten up old guys past their primes, I thought this was a world class pro wrestling match. They stuck to a more methodical pace in a match built around selling and limb damaging, which worked really well and built to an incredibly tense 2nd half. Hashimoto may be the greatest ever at selling wounded but dangerous, and here we also got him working as a beast next to the smaller Kawada.

Early on, Kawada was just overwhelmed by Hashimoto. I don't know if Kawada being unable to throw Hash properly was intentional or not, but it worked great in the context of the match. So we get Hashimoto as One Man Gang, working like an invincible wall of doom that Kawada has to figure how to topple. Hashimoto's facial expressions were absolute top tier acting and some of the best shit I've ever seen in a wrestling match.

Then of course you get two of the baddest dudes ever standing face to face and dishing out punishment to eachother. The dueling limbwork was a great way to avoid the trite "stand there and wait to get hit" crap japanese matches sometimes have. Instead, you had two angry bears, one on one leg, the other with one arm, hacking away at eachoter's weakpoints. Just an epic battle.

For the record, I thought Kawada's selling was near perfect. But Hashimoto's performance, all leading up to his eventual downfall, is the real integral part to the match. Just incredible stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should cross post all my stuff from Hashimoto's microscope thread, the MDA is just so much superior in every way. My review:

 

 

Hashimoto, the previous champion, challenges Kawada to take back the Triple Crown Championship he'd never lost. Hashimoto had to vacate the title after a shoulder injury. This was actually one of the first Hashimoto matches I'd ever seen. When I watched it I thought it was a great match, but I watched it in a vacuum, not understanding all the nuances and psychology that were present in this match, and also with a much different mindset than the one I currently have (All Japan is the best wrestling ever, Marufuji is the best, more apron moves please). I thought it was a great match because they hit each other hard. But that's kind of omnipresent in every Hashimoto and Kawada match. This isn't worked like any other Hashimoto match and definitely not like any other Kawada match. I swear this was going to be at least **** for me for the entrances alone. Man Hashimoto just looks so cool. He comes out and he has the flashy jacket and the bandana and the crowd is losing their shit and I'm losing my shit and Hashimoto just carries himself like this is the most important thing we are ever going to witness. Then Kawada comes out and he's got the flashy robe and the cool belts and the crowd is going wild once again. Man the feeling out process in this one was super great. Just them stretching and staring at each other manages to be incredibly captivating and super awesome. First bigger thing Hashimoto does in this one is a Hane Goshi and it's hard to describe just how much the beauty of the technique resonated with me. That's one of the biggest strenghts of this match-every transition managed to look great, feel great and make sense in the context of the match. They go the strike exhanging and Hashimoto hits Kawada so hard he starts bleeding from his ear. That's right. I've seen a lot of fucked up things in professional wrestling, whether they be in FUTEN folks punching each other as hard as humanly possible or various deathmatch stuff but I don't ever remember feeling as horrified as I did once it hit me what had just transpired. They engage in a kick battle which you would want from famed kickers and the commentators bring up their fighting backgrounds and how that affects their kicking technique. Man this match rules so much. Hashimoto's karate proves to be stronger than whatever the hell Kawada did. That might have been the best Suimengiri he had ever done. Hashimoto attacks Kawada's leg and the commentators bring up Hashimoto submitting Kawada in a big tag match with a Kneebar which I'd kind of forgotten about despite watching the mentioned tag match. Kawada attacks Hashimoto's injured shoulder in return. That is such an important part of what makes this match work, tapped up shoulder Hashimoto is an amazing character, a couple of months beforehand he had a match vs. Ohtani that featured one of the most unique finishes in wrestling history and it really adds a lot to this match because there's a feeling Hashimoto could fall apart at any given moment. Hashimoto makes sure to beat the shit out of Kawada's leg enough to make you feel the same way about him as well. Kawada initially tries to fire back by using the same leg Hashimoto had started attacking but Hashimoto (no)sells them perfectly as Kawada was throwing them both with a weakened limb and from a really terrible position. Hashimoto did register the kicks Kawada threw with his left leg. Of course-kicks are too big of a part of Kawada's offence for him to give up on them entirely, but despite hitting them he always sells sells the pain while setting the move up and after hitting it, in a way most wrestlers who "fight through pain" simply don't. There's a pretty great moment where Hashimoto goes for another Hane Goshi and there's a struggle over whether he's going to throw Kawada or Kawada is going to throw him by countering it with a Backdrop Suplex (like in that awesome Kawada-Naoya Ogawa match) and despite managing to throw Hashimoto he doesn't really do it with the force he usually would due to his leg giving out. There's a lot of drama over whether or not they are going to be able to execute a certain move due to the damage their injured limbs have suffered which is constantly played up, especially in the final strike exchange. Finish is about as fitting as it couldv've been. This was fucking amazing. I wanted more though which is how I don't feel about the Hashimoto matches I've rated as perfect. Maybe I will improve its rating after another rewatch. ****3/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The aura that both of these guys have is INCREDIBLE here & it really makes the match feel HUGE. And it should be huge, I mean, it's goddamn Kawada & Hashimoto going at it. I love everything about this - the feeling out process, Hashimoto's targeting of Kawada's leg, Kawada's selling, Kawada going after Hashimoto's shoulder, Hashimoto's AMAZING selling of that, etc. It's just classic stuff. ****3/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really good match/borderline great match. Awesome Hashimoto performance and he makes the match for me. Selling, acting, violence, urgency. He was as great as ever. Kawada was alright but his leg selling was really bizarre. It was a weird mix of traditional selling, fighting through the pain selling and just plain no selling and came off as haphazard rather than unique. ***3/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is for Kawada's Triple Crown Championship.

Despite both men being past their primes at this juncture, this is still a dream match for the ages between two of the greatest wrestlers of all-time ... and it delivers in spades. Hashimoto has a reputation of mostly disappointing during the 2000's, and while I can't personally verify the veracity of that statement since I've only seen a select few matches of his from that era (all of which have been excellent, by the way), I can endorse his performance here as on-par with any of his previous best performances. His selling is sensational, his acting is Oscar-worthy, his offense is simple, yet violent and impactful. I don't mean to diminish any of Kawada's contributions, but Hashimoto is integral in elevating this match from 'merely great' to one of the best matches of the decade. Kawada, for his part, is terrific in this match as well, but he's categorically a step below Hashimoto. Some of the criticism I read in regards to his selling are a bit severe, in my opinion. I suppose it's all in the eye of the beholder, but part of what makes this match so great is the dual limb-selling from both performers, and nothing Kawada did (or didn't do) struck me as particularly egregious. What was very egregious was the ending as some executive from ZERO1 throws in the towel on behalf of Hashimoto, depriving us of a stronger and more definitive finishing run. I understand it from a booking perspective as it protects Hashimoto, and from a kayfabe perspective it saves him from being permanently injured in the Stretch Plum, but it took some of the air out of the finish. Regardless, this is one hell of a match. Both men treat this as if it's the biggest fight of their lives, and if there's anyone in this industry that can convey the story of a battle between two warriors embodied by the bushido spirit, it's these two.

Stray Observations:

  • The physical charisma these two exude is extraordinary. Atmosphere is an essential component to big matches such as this one, and these two have an undeniable aura about them that keeps the crowd engaged from beginning to end.
  • Hashimoto's spinning low-kick to kick-start his control segment on Kawada's right knee fucking ruled.
  • In retrospect, the finish was telegraphed by the camera cuts to the executive on the outside holding Chekhov's white towel, but in the moment I didn't think much of it.
  • In another timeline, these two opt to throw kicks at each other until someone dies, but I appreciate that they were economical with their strikes as it made the ones that landed feel that much more important. Also, I'm pretty sure these two kicking each other non-stop would've generated an explosion massive enough to scorch Japan off the Earth, so we should probably thank Hashimoto and Kawada for not committing horrific genocide.

Rating: ****¾

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×