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Masashi Aoyagi


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  • 2 weeks later...

The Onita/Aoyagi feud is one of the greatest in wrestling history and if it was the only thing he did we'd probably still be talking about him. Some people do act like it's the only thing he ever did but he has had a decent length career with other good performances albeit under the radar. I really like him in NOAH, especially in his match against Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. I've got a soft spot for the old NOAH midcard though. I'm aware that he also wrestled in New Japan and WAR so I'd like to dig into that stuff too.

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Masaji Aoyagi v. Jushin Liger NJPW 6/12/90-EPIC

A real example of the kind of match Aoyagi does as well as anyone in wrestling history. This is worked rounds, but is less like a UWF style shootfight and more like a toughman contest. They build the tension in the first couple of round with Aoyagi throwing kicks and Liger delivering some really powerful double leg takedowns. In the end of the second round Aoyagi rips Ligers mask and Liger comes out maskless in the third round and flips the fuck out. He takes Aoyagi down and splitsis melon with some nasty headbutts and we get a wild awkward brawl, with crazed Liger and Aoyagi with a blood colored Gi. A great spectacle which is what you want it to be

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The Onita rivalry has two strong intervals, separated by five years spent in NJ/WAR. Liger in ‘90 is real good, and Cagematch lists it as only his third appearance after the two with Onita in FMW. He was part of Heisei Ishingun’s big run in ’92, where he worked Fujinami, Choshu, and Tenryu.

Had a lot of heat in his Onita run. I’d need to see his 90-94 in New Japan to know where he’s at, esp. '93 when he was in WAR. I always root for the NOAH undercard: he’s below Ikeda, Kikuchi, Sano, and Scorpio, but above just about everyone else. One curious factoid was that in ’94 he worked a WWF house show “Royal Rumble” in Osaka, with Taker, Backlund, Bret, Owen, Savage, Martel, Waltman, and others.

Seems to have been respected by great peers, and has an impressively long and ongoing career, from ’89 to present. A good reminder to consider Japanese midcarders like Kikuchi, Asako, Hamaguchi, Matsunaga, and Kido. Some cool stuff I’d want to see, as this is all listed as making TV on Cagematch:

8/19/90: Best Two Out Of Three Falls: Animal Hamaguchi, Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga & Tatsutoshi Goto) & Super Strong Machine defeat Hiroshi Itakura, Masahiko Takasugi, Masanobu Kurisu, Masashi Aoyagi & Ryuma Go (20:16)
3/14/91: Kengo Kimura & Masashi Aoyagi defeat Bad News Brown & Masanobu Kurisu
5/31/91: Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka defeat Black Cat & Kuniaki Kobayashi (10:37)
6/12/91: Tatsumi Fujinami defeats Masashi Aoyagi (6:04)
6/26/91: Masashi Aoyagi & Osamu Kido defeat Black Cat & Kantaro Hoshino
7/4/91: Mitsuhiro Matsunaga defeats Masashi Aoyagi (7:29)
7/24/91: Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido defeat Masa Saito & Masashi Aoyagi (11:11)
7/29/91: Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga) & Super Strong Machine defeat Jushin Thunder Liger, Kantaro Hoshino & Masashi Aoyagi (13:20)
8/25/91: Kengo Kimura defeats Masashi Aoyagi (14:41)
11/11/91: Masashi Aoyagi defeats Kantaro Hoshino (9:30)
12/05/91: Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido defeat Kuniaki Kobayashi & Masashi Aoyagi
2/12/92: Masashi Aoyagi & Osamu Kido defeat Brad Armstrong & Kim Duk (9:18)
8/15/92: Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka) defeat Osamu Kido, Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami (9:18)
9/23/92: Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito, Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka) defeat Osamu Kido, Riki Choshu, Takayuki Iizuka & Tatsumi Fujinami (14:39)
11/23/92: Genichiro Tenryu, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa defeat Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka) (20:42)
1/4/93: Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito, Masashi Aoyagi, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) defeat Raging Staff (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga, Super Strong Machine & Tatsutoshi Goto) (14:20)
2/6/93: Heisei Ishingun (Masashi Aoyagi & The Great Kabuki) defeat Ashura Hara & Masao Orihara
6/17/93: Takashi Ishikawa defeats Masashi Aoyagi (5:26)
12/10/93: Jushin Thunder Liger defeats Masashi Aoyagi
1/4/94: J J JACKS (Akira Nogami & Takayuki Iizuka) defeat Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi) (14:07)
7/17/94: Six Man Tag Team Tournament First Round: Arashi, Kendo Nagasaki & Masashi Aoyagi defeat Animal Hamaguchi, Nobukazu Hirai & Shoichi Funaki (13:23)
7/17/94: Six Man Tag Team Tournament Semi Final: Atsushi Onita, Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & Genichiro Tenryu defeat Arashi, Kendo Nagasaki & Masashi Aoyagi (10:43)
11/16/00: Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi defeat Daisuke Ikeda & Naomichi Marufuji (14:06)
2/25/01: Masashi Aoyagi & Scorpio defeat Akitoshi Saito & Takashi Sugiura (11:38)
6/9/01: Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura defeat Haruka Eigen & Masashi Aoyagi (10:40)
6/10/01: GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round: Tsuyoshi Kikuchi defeats Masashi Aoyagi (11:36)
6/23/01: Daisuke Ikeda, Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura defeat Haruka Eigen, Makoto Hashi & Masashi Aoyagi (13:19)
9/24/01: Akira Taue & Jun Izumida defeat Kishin Kawabata & Masashi Aoyagi by Referee Stop (12:49)
11/20/01: Masashi Aoyagi & Satoru Asako defeat KENTA & Takuma Sano (12:46)
11/25/01: Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda defeat Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi (14:26)
12/24/01: Akira Taue, Masao Inoue & Takeshi Rikio defeat Makoto Hashi, Masashi Aoyagi & Mitsuharu Misawa (18:52)
5/16/02: KENTA, Masashi Aoyagi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi defeat Juventud Guerrera, Ray Gordy & Richard Slinger (16:12)
2/12/03: Akira Taue, Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi defeat KENTA, Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda (22:52)
10/5/03: Tsuyoshi Kikuchi defeats Masashi Aoyagi (12:05)
1/25/04: Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rikio & Tamon Honda defeat Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Masashi Aoyagi (17:16)
11/28/04: Donovan Morgan, Michael Modest, Ricky Marvin & SUWA defeat Akira Taue, Makoto Hashi, Masashi Aoyagi & Takuma Sano (17:19)
5/11/08: Masashi Aoyagi defeats Mitsuo Momota (7:05)
8/30/14: Masashi Aoyagi & Ryuji Hijikata defeat Masanobu Fuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (12:14)

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Just watched the ’94 barbed wire/landmines match between Aoyagi and Onita in ’94, and it is really good for a heavily-gimmicked deathmatch, botched fireball and all. Whenever I look at the Onita/Tarzan Goto era of FMW, I see how adept they were at working the drama of the big spots. Cool performance from Aoyagi where he is able to convey that he’s both in over his head in Onita’s world, but still a genuine badass who can win. He’s got a ton of charisma. As did Inoue, and other lesser-known guys from AJ/NOAH’s undercard. The ref is wearing ski goggles. I’m glad matches like this exist.

Also saw Aoyagi vs. Kikuchi from ’03. Not a match that would put Aoyagi on top 100 lists, but an entertaining slugfest in and out of the ring. Has the vibe of that prime era of NOAH when they had midcarders over. Aoyagi hits a top rope axe handle in this. Tamon Honda is another guy from this period who could be nominated, as he has some great performances with and without Kobashi.

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Yarr, sorry, by "nominated" I meant to say "make my list". There's way too much stuff to watch for a project like this, but revisiting the peak of NOAH seems like a worthy cause now that they're off the radar, and Honda would probably be my top guy from the period to look at, aside from Akiyama perhaps improving his ranking on my list.

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  • 5 years later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I just watched a match between Aoyagi & some dude named Hirofumi Miura from 3/20/98 and it was exactly the kind of incredible selling performance mixed with wildly aggressive striking against some random dude who doesnt look that great that you want to see out of a top 100 candidate. Aoyagi continues to impress. All I want him to do is kick and sell and if he's just gonna kick and sell then he 's gonna kick and sell his way onto my list. 

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  • 2 months later...

I think one of the biggest advantages Aoyagi has over, say, a modern worker with a similar background like Katsuhiko Nakajima, is that he worked in an environment that was so much superior for showcasing and emphasizing his strengths. It helps that he often played a big part in helping create said environment, but that also shows he had an understanding of what made it work.

In terms of 90s indy karate workers, right now I would put him ahead of Mochizuki (DQed from my list for going to Dragon Gate) but below Akitoshi Saito who had a much stronger 2000s run. He will absolutely be on my list but his  appraisement is still a work in progress.

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