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[2004-06-27-NOAH-Accomplish Our 4th Navigation] KENTA vs Yoshihiro Takayama

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KENTA vs Yoshihiro Takayama - NOAH 06/27/04

I hope KENTA is still sending Takayama Christmas presents because Takayama made him look like a million bucks. This is a better version of the Tanahashi/Fujita and Takayama is downright Vader-like in how well he shined up KENTA throughout the match. Now granted KENTA is whole lot tinier than Sting or Mutoh, but Takayama was so selfless and really put the kid over as a scrappy, never say die babyface. KENTA did all the right things, but he was just missing that extra something when he was selling to really take it to the next level. This remains one of my all-time favorite NOAH match as it accomplishes what it sets out to do in a tidy 12 minutes and leaves you thinking KENTA is one tough little bugger. Right from the outset, he sets the tone kicking away Takayama's outstretched hand and bringing the fight right to him. Takayama weathers the storm before swatting him away like a gnat. There some huge kneelifts and kicks in this match from Takayama. I loved the spot where he just threw KENTA down to the floor it seemed like a deadlift. Takayama like all bullies gets a little cocky and covers KENTA with one foot. KENTA ain't taking that lying down. Takayama lays him out with a closed fist. KENTA just won't go away a tornado DDT and springboard dropkick get him back in it. He even covers Takayama with one foot, which Takayama promptly swats away. I loved the cutoff spots with huge kicks and knees from Takayama. KENTA was the little train that could and even got to slam and German Suplex Takayama. I have to say that Takayama did this spot a lot better than Vader, who made it too clear that he was helping his opponent. KENTA gets a really shitty looking cross armbreaker before Takayama slams out. He goes for the Everest German, but instead throws him face first onto the mat in a nasty spot and then demolishes him with a knee. This was everything you would want out this match. Takayama is one man wrecking ball and KENTA just won't stop coming. It is one of the easiest stories to tell, but they knocked it out of the park. ****

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This was an incredible underdog match. I loved the Ogawa match, which was very similar structurally. Just KENTA's offense is a bit more strike-happy and it works a little better as a counter to Takayama's bullying. The post match with Takayama giving a show of respect to KENTA for the effort is pretty sweet too.

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Sigh, 2004. Takayama was so fucking good and KENTA looked like a future star. Takayama dominated him but gave him just enough that combined with the heart he showed got him over as an underdog babyface in this match. Every knee, kick, and elbow that Takayama throws in this match is unreal. When I'm feeling a little weltschmerz about Japanese wrestling I like to imagine the epic Takayama vs Hashimoto match we never got.

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This was perfect little badass vs. big badass. If KENTA had focused his entire career on wrestling short, not matches like this, he'd be a shoe-in for my GWE list.

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One of the best NOAH matches ever is what you get when you pair the best monster in Japan with the best underdog in Japan. Takayama dominated KENTA in badass fashion, just beating the shit out of him with those sick strikes of his - KENTA got some really great comebacks in where he showcased his awesome strikes & combinations. Takayama made KENTA look like million bucks by giving him so much of the match & he also really sold well for the man. A real kickass match. ****3/4

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KENTA's performance here as an undersized yet scrappy babyface was great, but Takayama being the much bigger bully was even better! Takayama looked like he was having the time of his life bullying KENTA around the place with his nasty strikes. That slap that KENTA took in the corner sounded like a goddamn shotgun blast. KENTA gets in a few decent hope spots as he's able to outsmart Takayama and is even able to German suplex him for a near fall. Takayama teases going for the Everest, but instead decides this little runt isn't worth it and he just knees KENTA hard in the face to get the pinfall, ★★★★¼

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