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[2000-04-07-NJPW-Dome Impact] Shinya Hashimoto vs Naoya Ogawa

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Okay look, I get it. We're supposed to hate these matches because of the atrocious booking. Or because they ruined Hash's aura. I get that. By the general reaction in other threads I'm assuming a lot of people here witnessed this as it was going on and feel more upset about it. That's fine, I'm not gonna commend this as "ballsy" or something because it really is baffling booking for a feud with a guy who made you tons of money, even if MMA is on the rise and you want to seem legit.

But I was seven when this happened. And I....just don't care about that aspect of these matches. I viewed Hash's rise and peak after it had long ended and I loved it all. And you know what? I loved this. The same way I loved what the first 2 Cena/Lesnar matches after he came back portrayed. To see an ace absolutely get overwhelmed and destroyed in such a surreal way is shocking, sure. But what makes these matches work is what that ace tries to do to survive it.

This opens with Hashimoto again trying to mount some offense against Ogawa before getting swallowed up and having to roll outside and gameplan. This leads to Hashimoto having to make an opening creatively once again like in the '99 match and you get an absolutely awesome spinning low kick followed by Hashimoto trying to cave Ogawa's face in with stomps. It's unconventional, but it's him still finding a way to lay in a beating and Ogawa sells it well. And this is by far the most evenly worked match they had, again putting over that Hashimoto was closing the gap on not wanting to endure death by STO. We even get a section of I guess you could say legwork as Hashimoto destroys Ogawa's legs (which Ogawa sells incredibly well) and we get a submission finish tease.

 

Every Hashimoto/Ogawa encounter to me is about what Hashimoto can do to not get engulfed late by STOs. This match more than any other one showed how much he didn't want that to happen, with the rope blocking, use of space, and struggle for Ogawa to even get a single one off. And late when it looks like he might be starting towards that we get that phenomenal DDT counter plus the armbar attempt that sends the crowd into a frenzy.

 

Then we come to Ogawa putting Hash through the ringer with STOs and he again sells them tremendously. We can love Hash trying to fight through Choshu lariats so no reason not to love this. And I know there's always discourse about how much a crowd should matter in rating a match but the way they worked them during this entire feud is incredible. When Hashimoto finally can't rise again and gets counted out and you hear that woman just cry out from sadness at what occurred plus the looks of fans who are crushed is something else. Maybe it's something stupid, but when we remember that Hash opened a promotion after this, had excellent interpromotional feuds and matches, and even came back to NJPW a few months later anyway, it's not that bad to me. Not like any of us are on the NJPW payroll. Epic match.

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Hash has a new haircut and slimed down. It really struck me here that this one of the last really huge match he has in New Japan. This feels like a really big deal. Ogawa shoots in and gets taken down early. Ogawa does tag Hash with a nice left hook and Hash is lucky to catch a break by being close to the ropes. We get the camera angles on Fujinami and Inoki on the outside again. The leg sweep that Hash uses to regain the advantage was excellent and the crowd erups when he pounces on the grounded Ogawa. The gloves come off and here comes Murakami to break things up. Iizuka is up for round two between them and the competitors both separate for a moment. This match is all about the friction between the competitors and who can gain the advantage. Ogawa keeps going for an STO and Hash is able to hit a DDT and elbow to another huge reaction. Ogawa doesn’t give up on the move though and is able to successfully hit a STO a minute later to regain the advantage. Hashimoto narrowly escapes a choke but falls prey to one more STO and that is the match. The crowd is in a state of shock. Leave it to Hash to sacrifice himself for the one booking decision of the night getting over the outsider by putting him over. Inoki gets in afterwards and puts both over I assume although he has to rile the crowd up with his shtick first. I assume he saw this as another way to form his visualized way of wrestling. Hashimoto walks away essentially as a New Japan fully competitor for the last time in a heartbreaking moment. This as a match is tough to rank because it is repetitive in what Ogawa was looking forward with an STO but the atmosphere and engagement between the competitors made it really work for me. Add in the historical significance involving Hashimoto and it was a great farewell. ****

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Taking out all the stuff about this feud's positive or negative impact, which has been debated to death, and just focusing on quality, this is an outstanding match. It nicely demonstrates how it's always possible to re-educate fans on a new style and that was my favorite thing about this -- seeing just how much fans understood the details of the work and popped for things which in a normal non-Hash/Ogawa match would be seen as transitions if they happened at all. If you judged this as a shoot-style match, it would pale in comparison to the best matches in the style, but if you judge this as a pro-style match that is capturing the zeitgeist, it's a masterpiece. Hashimoto went down honorably, but this feud of course killed him as a money-drawing headliner, which is a shame. We've talked a lot about colloquial ends to decades and maybe this was when the 90s truly ended for New Japan. See you in Zero One, Hash. ****1/4

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Hashimoto was still the man but this was a weak fight. It was a crappy hybrid match and I couldn't find any redeeming features in it. I hated Hashimoto's performance. I couldn't believe that The Man had to take short cuts against such a crappy pro-wrestler. Yeah, it was his swan song and yeah he ate four STOs but nobody wanted to see their hero go down like that. There are so many Hashimoto matches I feel like watching to wash the taste out of my mouth from this shit.

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After another rewatch, this might be my 2000 MOTY. Absolutely brilliant Hashimoto performance, probably the finest of his great career. The way he managed to convey the story of the match and feud as well as the stakes through body language, subtle mannerisms, intensity and desperation is what pro wrestling is all about.

 

They did a great job building off the narrative of their 10/1999 semi-squash. Hashimoto gets eaten alive again when he goes toe to toe with Ogawa but this time takes a step back and employs a more cerebral and calculated approach to turn the tide. He is in control for a surprisingly large chunk of the match but Ogawa can turn it around at any point so there is a constant sense of danger. The finishing stretch is simply epic (in its original definition) with Hashimoto doing everything in his power to come out on top before the STO barrage overwhelms him. Genuinely emotional finish and postmatch. Booking wise, probably not the wisest decision but as a pro wrestling story, it worked wonderfully. **** 1/2

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I thought this was a great match. Just a wonderful performance by Hashimoto here who I thought really made this match with his charisma and emotion. Hashimoto pulling the gloves off and rocking Ogawa with some taped fist punches before Murakami runs in is pure awesomeness. I was a big fan of the finish here too as Ogawa keeps nailing STO's until Hashimoto can no longer continue. Just great wrestling here.

 

****1/4

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When Hashimoto hits that spinning leg sweep and starts going ballistic there is legitimate drama, danger, chaos, and emotion during his onslaught. Hash is so squat and it makes him torquing his bodyweight into those kicks look so much more brutal. I love the way Ogawa ragdolls his body on the DDT on the apron and this becomes one of those heavyweight UFC fights where both guys are gassed but looking for a big shot to end it.

 

The struggle over the STO and Hash's DDT counter are phenomenal and I want to give credit to Ogawa here. He gave a fantastic performance as the guy who should win but still finds himself thinking "what the fuck is wrong with my opponent, why can't I get away from him, why can't I finish him?"

 

The finish run of STOs truly got more brutal and brutal and then it is finished in spectacular fashion. Without caring about any of the extraneous circumstances surrounding the match I will just say that this was fantastic.

 

****1/4

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Of the 3 Hash/Ogawa matches I've seen, this was probably the best. Hashimoto takes a beating and goes down swinging. The crowd is red hot for it all and I liked that guys like Inoki and Fujinami were there to make it a big fight feel. With that being said, Ogawa is still god awful. He's so awkward and his fake MMA crap is just bad. I don't know what Inoki was thinking in making this guy champ. No wonder this was a down period in New Japan.

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Hashimoto gives a great performance in this one. I really liked the pulling off of the glove, as it created a symbolism of the wrestler rejecting the formal mma constraints to just out and out fight. I'm not sure that there is another wrestling arc with this sort of sad ending with the hero being definitively beat while still in his prime. The only thing pulling the match down is Ogawa, as he just never seems to be formidable enough to be the guy beating Hashimoto.

 

****

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Fuckin' HASH motherfucker!! I'm in the same boat of hating how this went down at the time, but 17 years later loving this match. Hashimoto showed everyone who the man was in his NJ swansong. **** 1/2.

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This had that big fight feel that I love and felt like it could have main evented a WrestleMania. While I agree Ogawa was awful, Hashimotos performance was so great he carried him to a fantastic match. It felt like every strike or throw that was executed had weight behind it and the match could come to an end. I didnt mind the use of 4 STOs as they seemed to get more devastating each time. I thoroughly loved this match. It was a great spectacle.

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A lot of people have said what I came in here to say, that if you take away the booking and just watch this in a vacuum it is great. Just the sheer emotion of it when Hashimoto, slimmer and with a shaved head, comes down the ring. The crowd is rabid every time he gets some offense in and I jumped up when he takes down Ogawa with a leg sweep. Just a huge performance from the man himself. Theres nothing like Hash in the Dome. Murakami getting in the mix adds that important chaotic element that the feud has had, and those STOs at the end are just devastating and knowing that youre watching the end of Hashimotos biggest run is sad.

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Slimmed up and shaved down Hashimoto is oddly reminiscent of Monster Morning. This was pretty damn great in the way they were able to keep the lines blurred. Earl on, you had Ogawa being real shitty and brash with his knockdowns and then he gets caught off guard with that Hash legsweep from the outside, which allows Hash the opportunity to lay into him to the point that Murakami has to come into the ring in Ogawa's defense. The reactions Hashimoto elicits from the fans with his takedowns are awesome as he keeps trying to cut out Ogawa's legs. I thought the STO struggle and escalation of impact was done really well, with Hash first countering with the DDT and then just kicking the shit out of Ogawa's leg in frustration before Ogawa is finally able to put him down after the choke sleeper > STO combo.

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NWA World Heavyweight Champion Naoya Ogawa vs Shinya Hashimoto - NJPW 4/7/00

 

Hitherto, the lowest drawing Dome show. On the undercard, we have Masa Chono vs Great Muta in the blowoff to NWO Japan Civil War and a logical progression from 1/4/00. The headscratcher is IWGP Champ Kensuke Sasaki wrestling Jushin Thunder Liger. That would be a fun match for Kouraken Hall and something I would love to watch. In front of a Dome, seems odd. Hashimoto vs Ogawa is not enough to draw on its own. Compared to the previous year where Mutoh vs Don Frye could draw 50k+, which is less to say about Mutoh's drawing power and more about the health of pro wrestling and New Japan in 2000.

 

I think I enjoyed the 5/97 match a tad bit more, but this is in the same ballpark. Hashimoto has a way better strategy in this match rather than in FINAL DOME where he is going for the legs and avoiding the clinch and above the waist takedowns. There were some great legsweeps in this taking out that plant leg like a pro. The crowd was popping HUGE everytime Ogawa hit the mat. When Hashimoto took off his glove, the cute chick in the second row lost her mind imitating Hashimoto punching. This crowd wanted a Hashimoto win. Ogawa did rock him early, but Hashimoto powdered gathered himself. That leg strategy was working. He gets a DDT on the ramp. It was going Hashimoto's way. Then he went into the clinch. STO! What a dumb move. I literally said to myself, "He deserves to lose." I did like the DDT counter to the STO and the cross armbreaker that was hot shit. It was STO city after that. It felt exciting for spurts then would cool down. I think Nagata vs Murakami blows this out of the water in terms of a pro wrestler vs shooter in a big time match. ****

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