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Koji Kanemoto

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I may be riding the wave of seeing Koji at his peak but he was great for a stretch of 1998. I also know that he was super in the match vs. Fujita from 2009 I believe? I need to fill in a lot of gaps but he is under consideration.

 

Anyone willing to make a primer for him that spans his last decade or so?

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Ohtani/Takaiwa 6/25/00

Kikuchi/Kanemaru vs. Liger/Kanemoto 1/26/03 - Kanemoto as FIP for a bit is a different twist

Kanemoto vs. AKIRA 3/23/03 - not perfect, but avoids a lot of the stuff that makes 2000s wrestling hard to watch for me

Nishimura vs. Kanemoto 8/8/04

 

This for me is one that goes against Koji

Kanemoto vs. Nagata 8/12/06 - good up to the point he starts cycling through his big offense regardless of the match structure beforehand

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Kanemoto has held up really well. When the Smarkschoice vote was done, '90s nostalgia was a huge factor, and '90s Kanemoto wasn't quite consistent enough to stand out from the pack. However, while most of his peers had a huge drop-off in quality in the 2000s, Kanemoto didn't. I value long good runs over flashes of brilliance. And Kanemoto had those as well. Not a lock by any means, but he deserves better than he got in the SC vote.

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I'll have him on the bubble. Liked his 2000s stuff better than his 90s stuff. Him teaming with Lyger in 2003 was one of my favorite things in wrestling at the time. Liked him as the gatekeeper of the BOSJ, as well. For his later stuff, the Hayato Fujita matches he had were great. Good longevity probably gets him on in the end.

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Such great longevity. His style was made for being a dickhead veteran bully so he was like a fine wine as he got older.

 

I think a good way to encapsulate his career would be watching the following:

 

vs. El Samurai - 1997 BOSJ Final

w/Tanaka vs. Ohtani & Takaiwa - June 25 2000

vs. Hashi - August 2003

vs. Danielson - BOSJ 2004

vs. Hayato - December 2009

w/Tanaka vs. Aoki/Suzuki - March 2013

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Haven't seen much of Kanemoto, but I just watched him at the recent Big Japan Sumo Hall show tagging with Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. the two Hashimoto's (Daichi and Kazuki), and I really enjoyed Koji's performance. Had some great exchanges with Daichi. His kicks and strikes were good stuff, and I liked him in the "grumpy old man veteran" role. The match really made me want to check out more Kanemoto.

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For recent stuff you should at least check out his two singles matches vs. Kazuki Hashimoto.

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For recent stuff you should at least check out his two singles matches vs. Kazuki Hashimoto.

 

The second, from July of 2014 I believe is still online. Their first encounter, from January, has disappeared into the ether,

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For recent stuff you should at least check out his two singles matches vs. Kazuki Hashimoto.

I'll be sure to check those out when I get a chance. Sounds like good stuff based on their interactions and performances in that Big Japan tag.

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I have seen very little of Kanemoto but I really liked his work in the New Japan vs. Zero1 feud from like 2007-2008 and didn't see anyone mention that stuff.

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Kanemoto vs. El Samurai from the 1997 BOSJ Final is one of my personal favorites. His heel work is so amazing in that match, really pushing how much punishment El Samurai can take in a match. One match does not an all time great make, but I think that match really shows what a game Kanemoto looks like and its awesome.

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His Tiger Mask stuff is quite underwhelming. After the original one, I don't think anyone really did the gimmick right until Tiger Mask IV. Kanemoto found himself as a dick junior later in the 90's, and from then on, he's one of the most consistent worker you can find. He's also very respected by his peers I believe for being extremely safe (despite the stiffness).

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Someone hit me with a list of Kanemoto's top 10 or so matches from say 95-2005. A lot of that I will have seen, but not in years. I have some thoughts on him already from things I've watched recently, but I'd like to tackle some more stuff first. Ideally I'd want these recommendations to be available online somewhere, but if not I might can track them down in my collection.

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It's harder in this case to come up with some online since New Japan is so aggressive about taking stuff down. But I'd go with these.

 

Kanemoto vs Pegasus (03/13/95)

Kanemoto vs Otani (04/16/95)
Kanemoto vs Liger (02/16/97)

Kanemoto vs Wagner (06/03/98)

Kanemoto vs Liger (07/15/98)

Kanemoto/Otani vs Liger/Wagner (03/06/99)

Kanemoto vs Liger (03/17/99)

Kanemoto vs Liger (05/31/99)

Kanemoto/Tanaka vs Otani/Takaiwa (10/11/99)

Kanemoto/Tanaka vs Otani/Takaiwa (06/25/00)

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vs. El Samurai and Dr. Wagner Jr. from the 1997 BOSJ are some of his best and most famous matches. There's a great BOSJ final vs Masahito Kakihara from 2003 on youtube. He had a great match in the 2006 G1 vs Nagata but that's outside of the period you're asking for.

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I think Kanemoto is maybe the most puzzling of the Japanese juniors I'm considering because while he has an aura to him that makes everyone of his matches watchable and exciting, he probably annoys me as much as any wrestler I can think of who I honestly think is great. This is less evident in his old man work, where I have generally loved him and I've seen him as a guy who adapted well to a changed scene. Having said that going back and watching some pre-05 Kanemoto in the last few days he feels like a guy who may have been a driving force in changing the scene in ways I don't really like. Perhaps it's match selection but I've seen lots of "fighting spirit" no sell spots that felt ill timed out of him...in theory. Except they kind of work for him. It's bizarre and I find myself at a loss as that sort of stuff usually irks me to no end. I did love the 98 Liger match flaws and all, the Rutten match was really good for what it was, and I loved the Nishimura match.

 

I'd like to see the Wagner match and the 99 Liger matches before I close the book on him. On the bubble, leaning yes.

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He has a great match vs. Sakuraba from UWFi as well and don't forget the NOAH-New Japan feud. And I loved his match vs. AKIRA from 2000 as well.

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Not sure how active he is nowadays, but have always been a big Kanemoto fan. The Samurai and Wagner BOSJ Finals matches are probably the biggest feathers in his cap, but he has tons of matches going all the way into the 2010's that are really good. Very good, stiff offense and can play a sympathetic babyface or a gigantic asshole.

My only gripe is there are a few instances of him no-selling spots to get his shit in, but it's not like it happened every match either.

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