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[1999-01-16-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida

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This was slower paced than you might expect it to be, but it was a great tag match - slow and stiff, really giving everything time to get over. Shinzaki is face in peril for a big chunk of this and does a great job selling and even gets busted open. I didn’t really like the Hayabusa/Shinzaki matches from ’97 that got so much praise, but I loved this both because of the work and also because it was a nice look at the undercard of All Japan at the time, which is something that became more and more rare as the decade drew to a close. Hayabusa really knows how to work his highspots into a match as opposed to just tossing them out where they mean nothing. I wasn’t sure if this would actually get hot in the closing few minutes because that wasn’t really how this was worked, but it did. I liked that they didn’t just shit on everything they did in the 20 minutes before they decided to start taking it home - it was a well-paced home stretch with lots of selling mixed in with the big moves and pin attempts. Honda’s sloooowww dead-lift German at the finish actually gave me chills. From what I’ve seen anyway, this is the best match the FMW guys had in Japan.

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Another incredible match, this is shaping up to be some week for wrestling. The big headbutt drawing blood of Shizaki was perfect since the heabutt had become a theme in the match almost immediately, with pretty much the first thing in the match being Hayabusa blocking a headbutt from Honda. Shizaki then gets worked over a bit and its good stuff with the blood adding to it. Hayabusa's hot tag is awesome and his first run of offense is great, including a real holy shit dive over the guardrail onto Izumida. The home stretch was fantastic with some neat stuff in there and still playing heavily on the headbutt theme which was cool. Great ending. This is neck and neck with that Battlearts tag for MOTY right now.

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I kept saying to myself that maybe I was overeacting this based on who was involved, but this is truely great stuff. JInsei gives his best performance here being busted open and resilient. Busa continues his hot streak and he is actually someone I am looking forward to now.. HOnda and Izumida were the best third rate heels hitting nasty headbutts and constantly working over JInsei and being great bumpers off the high spots.. All around this was a super great match and one of the big hidden gems in All Japan 1990's. On a side note, this may be All Japans best commercial release. Unless the Misawa vs. Kawada match disappoints 4 out of the 5 matches will be **** or better and the fifth match is Kobashi vs. Vader which isn't too shabby either. I think modern New Japan fans should give this tape a watch as even though these matches were spread out over numerous days, this is a lot of great stuff from a variety of people. (****1/4)

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Weird seeing a bloodbath in All Japan. Another really good match from Japan that isn't what I expected.Much more slower paced and the blood actually meant something. Best Hayabusa match I've seen.

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This was the weirdest bout to watch. Shinzaki bled a disgusting amount in producing a truly valiant performance. Honda gave a terrific showing, the peak of his time in AJ. I remember in 2003 when he turned into the best wrestler in the world for two matches, then went straight back to the midcard like nothing had ever happened. Hayabusa was also at his best. Delivering spectacular offense whilst others took care of most of the construction. Given all this, why isn't this a low end MOTYC at the minimum? Oh yeah, there's someone else involved.

 

There's good reason why Izu spent his career in the lower reaches of the card. A desperately limited worker with a bad image and an extremely repetitive moveset. How many headbutts? I just wanted him laid out on the floor so the others could do their thing. Despite the handicap this was a rare AJ gem not involving any of the big guns.

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I wanted to like this more than I did because I've always loved coming across throwaway mid-card All-Japan matches, but I mostly found the AJPW side boring. I'm okay with minimalism in wrestling, but there's just so many headbutts I can watch in one match. It was good, thanks to some great selling and hope spots by Shinzaki, but I didn't think it was great--not at the length it went. You don't think it's a coincidence that we get our first AJPW bladejob in years on a tour where Baba was out of commission, do you?

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/2/

 

#101

 

Not that this wasn't good, but I was kinda surprised this ranked where it did. I think Hayabusa is the most interesting or polarizing wrestler on the countdown for me. I just can't connect with him. I see he does big moves, and I see he flys around, but I haven't found a way see or appreciate what else he may be offering. I think this was good and entertaining, but it wasn't a classic match for me.

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I really liked this until it hits that last big closing stretch as it drags on a little too long. The selling and big spots were all good - no complaints there - it just felt overan to me. The match in the build upto that is surpsingly great with tons of emphasis on selling from Shinzaki who got cut by a Izumida headbutt. Loved how the champs' offence was mostly headbutts, targetting the cut. And it wasn't no-selling headbutts either, Shinzaki was out on his feet and struggling to stand at times. He was really good as the sympathetic FIP. Hayabusa hit his amazing looking highspots. That dive in the crowd to Izumida was both graceful and looked painful and the Firebird splash was predictably gorgeous looking. ***3/4

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