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[2004-11-03-NJPW] Toshiaki Kawada vs Katsuyori Shibata

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All Japan Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada vs Katsuyori Shibata - NJPW 11/03/04 Non-Title

 

The announcer informs us that both men are DANGEROUS~! repeatedly. I believe Kawada is on this tour because at the end he is going to defend against Tenzan as he finally in the midst of his big Triple Crown reign a decade too late. Shibata is a legitimate shoot fighter, but does not have the record of Fujita or Sakuraba. At this point, Shibata was just a New Japan young lion (firmly positioned behind Tanahashi and Nakamura as a prospect).

 

I may have spoke prematurely when I declared Tanahashi/Fujita as the best short match of the project. The story of this match is that Shibata kicks hard, but Kawada punches harder. Shibata catches Kawada unawares by bullrushing him. He posts him on the outside when Kawada tries to escape and they tease a countout finish, Shibata wins a fiery elbow war with a well-timed slap triggering one of those pitch perfect Kawada sells. Shibata then busts out Stretch Plum and Kawada Kicks, which pisses off Kawada. Kawada kicks his ass and then dumps him on his head with a back drop driver. Shibata blocks a kick and is able to win another furious elbow war, but cant put him away with a sleeper. One last vicious elbow war this time with kicks and slaps flying, Kawada wins by knocking his ass out with a sweet right. The ref admonishes him, but the damage has been done and Kawada drops a knee on his head to get the academic three. I loved the use of elbow/slap/kick exchanges. It was not just a segment of macho pissing, it was the match. Shibata's gameplan was the best defense was a great offense and Kawada was more than happy to oblige. It all ends when the crafty veteran says enough of this shit and just knocks him the fuck out with a closed fist. It does not last long enough to contend for a truly great position and I would put Tanahashi/Fujita a little ahead because I enjoyed Tanahashi's babyface performance that much more. In terms of 8 minutes of absolute ass-kicking, it does not get much better than this. ***3/4

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I enjoyed Shibata using Kawada's own signature moves on him but otherwise didn't care for this that much. It's a fine match, especially for how short it is, but I'd say Shibata probably got too much offense in given how Kawada has been dealing with opponents around this time on the set. The KO punch finish would have been awesome if that was it. Instead we get Shibata trying to stand back up so Kawada has to finish him off with a kick. Well, that and a knee drop just in case. Won't make my list but a worthwhile use of 9 minutes.

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I'm with Steenalized here. It was fun, but Kawada's selling made the match better than it otherwise would have been. Why he gave Shibata that much offense I'm not sure. Shibata made the most of it, but that Tanahashi match blows this out of the water.

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An incredibly violent, brutal sprint. The most badass wrestlers of their generations beat the absolute crap out of each other - loved Kawada's selling of Shibata's stuff, in particular the slap he sells after their big strike battle was amazing. Loved Shibata using Kawada's signature stuff too, that was a great touch. AWESOME match. ****1/4

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I'll always enjoy that period from the mid 2000s where Shibata was booked against legends and got his ass kicked. This match puts him against, with the exception of Takayama and Tenryu, the biggest ass kicker imaginable. Shibata jumps Kawada the second he gets in the ring and that's awesome. He uses some of Kawada's stuff against him and that's awesome. Kawada beats the fuck out of Shibata and that's awesome. The match also doesn't really overstay its welcome which, again, is awesome. It's not a MOTYC or anything but when I first saw this match listed, it was exactly what I expected. I could understand this being disappointing to someone who only knew Shibata from his 2012 return onward because you'd probably expect something a little more 'epic', but for these two guys in 2004, this is exactly what it needed to be and exactly what it should have been. ****

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This isn’t much but what we get is Shibata trying to get in as much offense against Kawada as he can, riffing some of Kawada’s own signatures, before Kawada snaps and goes apeshit on him, chopping him in the throat and backdropping him on his head. Surprisingly, Shibata is able to wear Kawada down with the sleeper for the PK but that’s as close to victory as Shibata is able to taste. The finish is something else as he and Kawada go at it until Kawada rocks him silly with shots, including a KO punch, which Shibata mistakenly sits up from so Kawada kicks him in the head and drops the knee for the three count. Kawada's selling made this thing all the more enjoyable. A sub-10 minute match with a great back half.

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Once upon a time, around 2003-2004 in particular, Shibata was known for pissing off and subsequently getting his ass kicked by legends and otherwise established top names. Here, he rushes Kawada. As you might have guessed, this is a bad idea. Kawada lets Shibata get some offense in, Shibata steals some Kawada trakemarks and then Kawada kills him dead. Short, sweet, brutal, to the point. This is good shit. ***3/4

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Just two lads hitting each other hard for seven minutes. Not the greatest match in the world, but Kawada's sublime selling and the strike exchange that ends the match make this one well worth your time if you've only got a spare ten minutes to kill.

★★★½

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