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Charles (Loss)

[1998-06-05-NJPW-Best of the Super Juniors] Jushin Liger & El Samurai & Kendo Ka Shin & Dr Wagner Jr & Hayato Nanjyo vs Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Kaz Hayashi & Masakazu Fukuda (Elimination)

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This was a great match that also disappointed me at the same time. I was hoping for MOTY with the heat and atmosphere of the Choshu matches in the 80s. I know that's a high bar. But still, this was a really great match, and it seemed designed to build to the future, even if the Kendo Ka Shin push makes me want to puke. Liger and Otani going out early really did shock me. Fun to see that Wagner and Kanemoto look to be developing a rivalry, with Wagner avenging his loss from two days earlier. Hayashi made a surprisingly good showing. I guess in some ways this is a sacrifice I can understand. They may have pumped up the crowd a lot more if they'd had Liger/Wagner vs Otani/Kanemoto in the end, but they were trying to build something for the future, so guys that don't normally get that spotlight got it here. They chose Kendo Ka Shin, but at least they were trying with someone. I guess what we say about juniors in domes can also be applied to juniors at Budokan Hall though, because there was very little heat for this. That's unfortunate because the match was set up with lots of crowd pleasing spots, and they did a lot of things early where one team would do unto the other team, then the same thing would be done unto them moments later. The crowd didn't bite, the work was strong, they pushed new guys, but I don't know about their choices in who to push. Lots to admire here, not as much to love.

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I watched this as homework for the yearbook set and thought it was a great match then. I stand by that now and really enjoyed it on rewatch. It did to me feel like a junior version of the multiman matches in NJPW past with interwoven storylines being brought to the forefront. Kashin getting the big push seems suspect with what we know now but him in this match was good hitting the flash cross armbreakers with precision. I also really dug Hayashi flying around everywhere and Koji/Otani being an enormous dick tag team. Koji vs. Wagner is a hell of a feud and I was proud to see Koji pin Liger setting up their big showdown the next month. Great stuff and the 30 minutes flew by. (****)

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The time passed easily, but this was unmemorable by NJ elimination standards. Why book it so Liger, Kanemoto and and Ohtani were all gone by the final four? It wasn't like their eliminations were great moments either. They just went out on moves that would never beat them in a million years in a meaningful match. I guess Liger wanted to give Ka Shin a boost, but I just didn't give a shit about the final group. Neither did the fans.

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At nearly half an hour they had an appropriate duration to work within. Would've benefitted from more crowd heat. Nanjyo was a raw young boy who didn't last very long. It was closely contested throughout and came down to Ka Shin defeating Takaiwa. Not the survivor I'd have chosen but he was better than usual here. It seems like everyone else has similar feelings about him as a worker. Doc was such a boss the way he adapted to Puroresu around this time. Consistent quality level throughout with some nice action. It never threatened to go higher. Well structured too with the timings of eliminations, if not the ordering. Good effort lads.

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This was pretty good, but this might be the closest that any of the many NJPW elimination matches came to approaching a Survivor Series-type layout, where guys go down to rather routine moves for no other reason than to move the match along. I too was a little underwhelmed at the early eliminations of some of the heavy hitters, but I do get the reasoning for it and it's almost to be expected of NJPW at this point to have a shock elimination or two. I know everyone here hates Ka Shin and he hasn't impressed me much in my limited views either, but I thought he was really good here and possibly the best man on his team, with lots of really funky counters into the cross armbreaker which is put over really huge as an insta-finish. Takaiwa was good as well heaving motherfuckers all over the place--the two finalists absolutely earned their spot based on quality of work in this match. I can't see it as a MOTY either--at times, this was a rare case of a major promotion coming across as a pale imitator of an indy. They do some MPro-like spots here and some of them are good, and some of them illustrate how much chemistry those guys really have with each other and how hard it is to do what they did. Still, an enjoyable bout that if nothing else gave us a fresh look at some lesser-known junior guys.

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