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[1997-06-29-AJPW] Daisuke Ikeda & Takeshi Ono vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinari Ogawa

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Random as hell match that I saw at the RealHero Google Drive. Ikeda and Ono come in and get a really nice reaction, then Kikuchi and Ogawa kind of eat their lunch. Kikuchi was uncooperative to the max and didn't sell a thing. Ogawa just did his usual spiel. There were some stiff as hell moves here, including Ikeda dishing out some of his stiffest shots I've ever seen on Kikuchi, Kikuchi firing back like a madman and Ono responding to Ogawa's pro style punches with shoot strikes, aswell as a brutal series of german suplexes to Ono. Fun match, but I would've liked a real match and not something borderline unprofessional.

 

This was about the only match of Ikeda in AJPW where he was treated as anything special. I wonder if this was some sort of test as lot of AJPW guys were watching from the side.

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So I noticed Ikeda/Kikuchi from the next month's Budokan pop up in my Youtube feed and had to watch it. I'm not gonna start a thread for it as it's just a 3 minute clip but it's a real joy to watch one of the all-time great ass kickers beat up one of the all-time greats at eating a beating. I was pretty sad that the full match didn't seem to air until I noticed this tag did and had to watch it too.

 

There's a sentiment throughout the main yearbook threads that AJPW in 1997 was this stale promotion in a state of rapid decay, but this match paints a very different picture of them from the Misawa main events as one that, at least for this night, wasn't afraid to bring in unconventional workers and give them legroom to experiment with creating totally new styles. Here we have a BattlArts vs. AJPW interpromotional match in front of a hot Korakuen crowd that's presented as a big deal with the AJPW wrestlers watching in the back. The result is neither fully a BattlArts or AJPW match, combining the legendary BattlArts stiffness and uncooperative feel with the AJPW tag structure and fighting spirit. I actually thought Kikuchi put in a really memorable performance and seemed to be dipping his toes in the grumpy persona that he wold more fully explore in NOAH. Ikeda and Ono were basically their BattlArts selfs here and Ogawa was serviceable, though forgettable on his own. Match ends quick enough that you think they might be saving something for a greater interpromotional feud, but sadly this and the Ikeda/Kikuchi clip seem to be as far they went down this route. A sad missed opportunity but a pretty sweet hidden gem that shows this period in a different light.

 

I think bringing in Ikeda as a regular so quickly was a big mistake and probably the main reason his AJPW/NOAH run ended up as one of wrestling's greatest disappointments. They really could have had something special on their hands if they slowly ran a few more interpromotional tags like these with BattlArts guys over the coming months, but instead they destroyed Ikeda's aura by going straight to him jobbing to Kikuchi the next month in a match that barely aired. Baba gonna Baba I guess.

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This was not a Kikuchi performance that I thought was good or a precursor to his great grumpy performances in NOAH but instead one that bordered on unprofessional. You have ikeda who is renowned for strikes way more than either ogawa and kikuchi and it is kikuchi's strikes that are sold the best in the match Kikuchi takes a ton of kicks to the chest early on and just brushes them off.

This match made ikeda and ono look pretty weak to be honest as they were getting beaten toe to toe by two ajpw guys. I did like the match when ogawa was in vs ono i thought they had a fun back and forth with ogawa using some of his tricks. the finish two was nice with the Germans helped by ono being absolutely tiny in comparison to his opponents.

The funniest part of the match was the sight of Mossman, Fuchi, Wadda, Kobashi in glasses and Akiyama watching from the side, akiyama looking particularly miserable.

This match on paper was interesting but in execution largely down to the performance of Kikuchi it was fairly pointless. *1/2

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