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[2004-09-10-NOAH-Navigation Over The Date Line] Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue


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  • 2 weeks later...

Misawa & Ogawa vs Saito & Inoue, NOAH September 10th 2004


Background: Saito spent several years as Akiyama's right-hand man only to be cast out during the summer. He ended up forming a midcard stable named Dark Agents. He and Inoue earned this tag title shot by beating former champions Kobashi and Honda. That match was decent but did nothing to suggest what we'd get at Nippon Budokan.


Why I think it's underrated: It lacks the stiffness and bombs of, say, the Kobashi vs Taue match that followed it. Masao Inoue's athletic ability, execution, and moveset are not exactly impressive. Yet the story it tells of a life-long jobber trying to make good and beat the odds is very compelling. Things like layout, structure, timing and selling are what make this work. I've typically seen two reactions to it. Either people love it, or they're turned off by Inoue. I've seen more of the former than the latter, so this is well worth checking out.


What it deserves: Top 50. Misawa, Ogawa and Saito all play their roles very well while giving the spotlight to Inoue's career performance.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am afraid I have got some bad news. Honestly, Ditch, the match was not that bad. I really don't like Saito and if that Inoue's career performance than that is just depressing. I was just tired of doing the same straight-laced reviews and this one had plenty of material to have a little fun with it.

GHC Tag Champions Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs Atikoshi Saito & Masa Inoue - NOAH 9/10/04


Yoshinari Ogawa is my hero the hair, the sunglasses, the matching zebra vest (sleeves are for zeroes, brutha) & tights, and the attitude. Atikoshi Saito is the polar opposite. He found out a way to be even more destestable. He got himself a femullet and added bangs. What a friggin tool. Now he has some jaybrone partner named Masa Inoue. Misawa take care of this light work.


As much I love Ogawa, this really feels like Misawa is slumming it in this match. With Kobashi ruling the roost and Akiyama being his main challenger, it was only logical that Misawa rock the tag division and maintain the prestige of the division, but there just was not that much depth in the talent pool. Saito at best is an inoffensive worker, but when he does stick out in an Akiyama tag match because he was usually sucking at something like striking or moving. Masa Inoue is some jabroni, who throws lariats like am awkward Randy Orton and does a torture rack like a 12 year old version of Lex Luger (who I am kidding 12 year old Lexy Flexy probably would have been a better worker than this dude). Of course, the best part of this match is knowing that there was no way Misawa was going to job to these losers. So you knew they were going to eat a ton of elbows and Ogawa was going to mock them relentlessly.


The match starts off so bad with a really badly, awkwardly choreographed bit where Misawa/Ogawa try to jump them, but the Shit Jabronis hit the lamest clothesline to send them out. When Saito goes for a dropkick, Ogawa holds onto the ropes and points to his head because he is clearly smarter than this tool. However, when he goes for a drop toehold he cant get the big man down and Saito gives him the finger wag. Oh my God, Ogawa has done the impossible he has made Saito entertaining. Misawa lights Inoue the fuck up with elbows. Oh how I missed you, Misawa. Misawa stands on this chump and drops a senton on him! Misawa rules the school! After a series of sleepers, Saito tries to the Randy Savage strategy of reviving your partner by hitting them. The only problem is that his partner aint Hulk Hogan. Somehow, Inoue actually avoids Misawa's dopkick and Ogawa's enziguiri. They double torture rack Misawa and then Inoue starts the rake Ogawa's face across the rope. O just you wait, big shot, when Misawa gets in and elbows your face. Ogawa uses his tights to send him to outside when Misawa throws him into the railings. Once back in, Ogawa holds out Inoue's hand to have Saito tag him. Rat Boy wins at life!


All good things must come to an end and Inoue hits a DDT on Misawa and Ogawa at the same time. Here comes Saito with an axe kick for Ogawa and an urnage for Misawa. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! They do this friggin weird delayed vertical suplex spot on the ramp, which Saito must have fucked up because clearly he supposed to be closer to the ring so Misawa could pull Ogawa down. Someone should have called an audible instead everyone looked like a moron. Of course, when you are in the ring with Atikoshi Saito it is hard not look like an idiot. Saito & Inoue try to prove to me that they are kinda cool by spike piledriving my man, Rat Boy on the floor. Fine, that was kinda cool. Saito & Inoue realize they have no personalities of their own so they copy Misawa & Ogawa and use a series of sleepers. Rat Boy dropkicks both and dragon leg screw on Saito. Hot and I mean double hot tag to Misawa. If you had a face you got elbowed. If you had stupid bangs, you get a diving elbow through the ropes. All Hail Misawa! Saito misses the Mist spray. What a jaybrone! Damnit, he got the second time. Misawa takes two wicked Germans, which makes me uncomfortable. Ogawa saves Misawa from the ultimate shame of being pinned by Saito.


HOLY SHIT! Saito powerbombed Misawa! Where was the Misawa-rana!?!?!? What the Fuck?!?! I am still in shocked Saito actually powerbombed Misawa. Inoue busts out the Billy Robinson backbreaker to try to earn brownie points. Randomly, some dude holds Misawa while Inoue hits a lame clothesline. This leads to Inoue running into the turnbuckles and Misawa calmly tagging out. What the fuck? Inoue and Saito hit the Jabroni Doomsday Device from the middle rope. Disorderly Conduct was a more menacing team than these two clowns. Inoue has the audacity to no sell Ogawa's DDTs, but knocks himself out on his own headbutts. Talk about putting yourself over. It is time for Misawa to put end to this nonsense. The finish run is Misawa hitting Inoue in the face with his elbow and Ogawa back drop driving him. This happened about 4 times and it was glorious. Just to add how this match was weirdly laid out Inoue takes all sort of crazy variations of this and a double team version of the Tiger Driver, but gets pinned by a normal back drop driver.


In all seriousness, I am going a bit over board in my criticism of this match. I really don't like Saito and Inoue was just lame. He added nothing to the match and was a warm body for Misawa and Ogawa to attack. I actually liked Misawa & Ogawa a lot in this match and they did their best to make it an entertaining match. Hell, they sure gave a lot more offense to these guys than I would have. I thought the Inoue FIP and the finish stretch were well-done. Even though, the Ogawa FIP was too long, he sold really well for them, I wished Ogawa had more time to Rat Boy it up. I will probably never watch this match again. I would say Misawa & Ogawa dragged a pretty good match out of these two, but nothing worth going out of your way to say. ***1/4

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Man, I still love this but it's not the MOTDC I originally thought it was. I wouldn't rank it as high as the very best NOAH singles matches, the NJPW vs NOAH jr tags, or the best heavyweight trios but I think it could still be a top 10 NOAH MOTD.


It always surprises me how much people dislike Saito. I think most of his offense looks pretty stiff. His look is totally lame but in a goofy charming pro wrestling kind of way. If anybody's offense in here bothered me it was Ogawa. I'm usually a big Ogawa defender but I felt like his punches looked weaker than against Kobashi and his thigh slapping kicks were a bit more distracting here than usual. The story is obviously what really hooks me here. I love to see Inoue in over his head. He's the best lovable loser in pro wrestling history. Inoue's offense works because of the way that the hierarchies work. If Inoue does it and it looks weak nobody sells it.

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  • 2 months later...

Here's my thing with Saito. He has really good suplexes, slams and powerbombs. But everything else is average at best. And when you consider that his one method of building a match is strikes and strike exchanges, that is very, very bad. He normally doesn't sell other people's strikes worth a shit, but this is the boss. Saito does throw the best looking elbows I've seen him throw after taking a few from Misawa. Inoue certainly has lots of high end offense to bust out. But all he did early was...run Ogawa's face along a couple of ropes? And when Ogawa gets into strike-heavy mode he gets old pretty fast. So this match really doesn't go well for me. Both Inoue and Saito seem to me like guys who are capable enough of busting out big time offense during stretch runs, but A. don't have the right tools to build to said stretch run and B. have no idea how to use their big bombs effectively to create a good match. So yeah, I fall into the category of people who hated it.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I have no problem with this match at all. With the length and a bunch of intricate and well timed sequences, it almost felt like a comical take on 90s AJPW epics. Inoue sucks, but that's his thing. When he starts in the match he is completely useless and just treated like a piece of shit. The sequence around his initial comeback is hysterical and like something from a Monterrey trios with Misawa and Ogawa as stooging infernales. Saito has to work for two and time his tags so Inoue can always attack a vulnerable opponent. I really liked Saito here, as he is believable as a serious hitter, but also has these moments where it seems that Inoue's suck infests him. The only thing wrong with him I thought was that he didn't just brainbuster Ogawa on the ramp when he had the chance. Inoue's gradual transformation from being completely out of his depth to somehow staying in the match with some luck later on was very well down and believable, even while doing big nearfalls he was always the same Inoue and didn't just turn into a badass or something. Had no problem with Ogawa and Misawa in his role here was amazing to watch.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • GSR changed the title to [2004-09-10-NOAH-Navigation Over The Date Line] Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue

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