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Great Kabuki


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Seems like a really underrated worker to me. You could argue Tenryu took his trademark style from Kabuki - as you can find the nasty kicks to the face, stiff punches and general recklessness in his matches before. Looked great in a 70s style tag in IWE and is really good as tough old tank in AJPW and WAR tag up until 1993, so ideally he has about 15 years of being really good. I need to take a closer look at his career but right now he's already above Mutoh for me.

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Very underrated as the fiery veteran in late '80s AJPW, and underrated as a babyface in World Class. That said, his earlier heel work leaves me cold, as objectively successful as the gimmick was. A testament to how far Gary Hart can carry somebody but I can't really see voting for him.

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I really really like the stuff I've seen from his babyface run in World Class. Like to where I actively wanted to see every single match he ever had as a babyface. It was a really short run though and no one else ever thought about using him that way so it really doesn't do much for him in a Top 100 ever type poll. Never cared much for any of the heel stuff I've seen from him in Dallas.

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  • 6 years later...

I've absolutely loved his late career run in IWA Japan. He's looked quite great as a sleazy Tenryu carrying a seedy garbage promotion. Also, he's in that WAR tag which has to be in the Top 10-20 2 vs. 2 matches ever:

https://reverseviperhold.blogspot.com/search/label/great kabuki

The Great Kabuki & Masao Orihara & Keisuke Yamada vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki & Gedo & Jado

This is an awesome looking match up on paper, and it really delivered on it’s promise. The Fuyuki & underlings trio really is one of the most consistently entertaining acts of the 90s in their scummy evilness. And Orihara is a sleazy treasure in this match, flying in and out of the scenery, having heated exchanges with Gedo etc. Kabuki is also awesome just tagging in, hitting awesome punches and superkicks and spraying mist. The juicy part is the heat segment on Yamada, which is really well executed and also really bloody. There was also an unusual intrusion when Yamada’s sister(?) tried to save her brother from Fuyukis nefarious tactics and Fuyuki shakes the shit out of her, it was totally unexpected an really underlines Fuyukis scummyness. Yamada survives a ton of punishment in this, almost too much, but then again he was bankrolling everyone and putting all these awessome IWA Japan shows together, so I guess I am fine with it, and the finish is a good one.

Great Kabuki & Keizo Matsuda & Keisuke Yamada vs. Takashi Ishikawa & Shigeo Okamura & Kishin Kawabata (Broken Glass Window Death Match)

This was supposed to be Matsuda/Yamada vs. Ishikawa/Okamura, but Ishikawa gets on the mic challenging Kabuki and it becomes a 6 man tag. This was a wild brawl which was made more entertaining by the tough old guy charisma of Ishikawa and Kabuki. These guys bleeding and punching and booting each other was awesome. Yamada and Okamura were working really hard here, starting with a great exchange that saw Okamura dropkick Yamada in the mouth. The brawling seemed more vicious here than usual in these Korakuen Hall brawls, there was very little of guys wandering around and dragging each other up the stairs and more guys beating on each other and throwing chairs. Yamada ends up taking the insane bump into the glass, cutting up his body, and then eating an insane neck compressing suplex from Okamura, you can tell he really wanted to put his company on the map here with his crazy Honmaesque performance. Really gritty entertaining brawl, exactly the kind of stuff people are looking for when scouring old deathmatch fed tapes. After the match Kodo Fuyuki attacks Kabuki, setting up another really exciting program (sorry, Tokyo Pro wasn't exactly a hot commodity in 1997 anymore).

Koki Kitahara & The Great Kabuki vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Masao Orihara, WAR 7/14/1992 - EPIC

Do yourself a favour and make it a priority to watch this match asap. Literally one of the most awesome brutal spectacles I've ever seen. It starts out with Tenryu chopping Kabuki in the throat in the middle of an exchange, leaving him suffocating on his back, which sets the tone nicely. The early Orihara sections were pretty fun, as every couple minutes he would try something stupid and get punished swiftly. Kabuki & Kitahara end up putting a massive assbeating on him. Kitahara looks like such a killer in this match, just walloping everyone with kicks left and right and dealing them kicks to the eye and the skull, and Kabuki looks great aswell, dishing out extra mean punches and kicks. It also helps that you can really whip Orihara around, he would eat a neckbreaker and his head would just bounce off the mat. Oriharas initial comeback was pretty much perfect as he ditches his junior offense and just tees off with reckless kicks. Later he would hit these great looking dives. His springboard crossbody is an example of a perfectly timed highspot. Tenryu wasn't in the match a ton but he would occasionally walk in and remind you who he his. Earlier Kabuki had blindsided him so, after he Orihara hit a dive and left Kabuki prone outside Tenryu would casually stroll over and clock him with a chair. It's these kind of moments that help make this sort of match so much more intense. Tenryu going mad with the pre-PRIDE soccer kicks, not letting off and leaving Kitahara bloodied is why he's Top 5 all time. Note how he would also put over his opponents, with Kitahara almost KO'ing him and Kabuki pretty much beating him silly with the punches and super kicks. What a fucking match, I wouldn't be shocked if this ends up in my All Time Top 10 as far as tags go.


Keisuke Yamada & Keizo Matsuda & Shigeo Okumura vs. The Great Kabuki & Ryuma Go & Tarzan Goto - EPIC

Leave it to a bunch of sleazy dudes and old geezers to have one of the funnest bomb throwing sprints of the year. You know any match with Tarzan Goto & Ryuma Go in it is pure money. If you don't, I hereby decree it. I was expecting a wild brawl, but they mostly stay in the ring and stick to the all star team of Tarzan/Go/Kabuki waffling the shit out of the sleaze greenhorns. Matsuda & Okumura aren't all that great, but that DOES NOT MATTER because they were here to get punched in the face and kicked in the throat a whole LOT. The exchanges between Goto & Yamada were insanely gory and easily the highlight of the match. I also unexpectedly loved Kabuki, who is supposed to be way over the hill and corpse-like at this pound but still BRINGS it - by doing what he always did: throwing punches and thrust kicking dudes really hard. I can't believe people widely don't like this dude - even his nerve hold was awesome! He was KILLING the poor guy with that nerve hold. I imagine if this had a grand stand exchange between Goto & Yamada at the end or something this would have been near all time level, but as it stands it was basically 3 badass vets waltzing in to kick the shit out of anyone and it kind of ruled. Also, do not watch this match if you dislike lariats, because this had about 30 of em.

The Great Kabuki & Arashi vs. Keisuke Yamada & Shigeo Okamura

The main event was a stupidly good sleazy WAR battle with Arashi basically walloping everyone with stiff lariats all the time and not bumping ever and crusty old Kabuki ruling it doing you know exactly what, hitting the worlds greatest punches and superkicks. Yamada basically gets the shit beaten out of him and eats the fuck out of every lariat and superkick he gets, just drilling himself into the mat with enthusiasm. Okamura is pretty blah but he and Yamada are EAGER and Kabuki is totally carrying this by bumping like a motherfucker and getting chairs chucked in his face and making me give a shit for his nerve hold AGAIN. He teases the fist drop and eats a flying lariat in a sequence that wasn't athletically impressive or anything but awesome in context of the match. I was totally a Kabuki fan before getting into IWA Japan, but seeing him crusty, old and broken down as an improbable but determined company ace who throws fists and gets spin kicked in the face is an enlightenment.

Kabuki & Nagasaki vs. Keisuke Yamada & Shigeo Okumura, IWA Japan 7/20/1998

The crusty main event! Kabuki train 98 continues! Everyone in this match gets WALLOPED and it rules. Yamada & Okumura get all uppity and Nagasaki fucking wastes them both with chairs. Kabuki & Nagasaki turn into the worlds lumpiest Anderson brothers and procure some brutal armwork and stomps, with Nagasaki rocking the shoulder dislocating Armbars. It's improbable and strange and great. Kabuki hits his awesome fist drop and starts working the ARMPIT CLAW and it's fucking gross. Okumura & Yamada are not technically great but they are willing to smack the shit out of the crusty old bastards and in return get punched in the face, elbowed in the chin and kicked in the throat a LOT. Kabuki & Nagasaki actually have enough cardio to keep things moving for 15 minutes and we get a handful of great spots and thrust kicks. FEAR THE GREEN MIST! Also, SICK piledriver finish. I loved this.

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Dude is just brutal to get through in WCCW, imo. Only guy worse with weaker looking offense at the time is Magic Dragon. When he first returns to AJPW under the Kabuki gimmick, he feels like a star and works much better, but within a year or so he's back to World Class laziness outside of the occasional bloody brawl. I remember downloading stuff from Ditch and he'd have blurbs about man great uppercuts how could I have ever not liked this guy...but that seems like the only thing he does well in the ring.

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