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[2000-03-27-BJW] Tomoaki Honma vs Abdullah Jr Kobayashi

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Talk about a war. Holy hell. Much like a Baptist church, the few people there are sitting toward the back, so the heat is lacking. But this is maybe the only match I can recall where there being nearly non-existent heat helped it a lot. This may have been a tough match to enjoy live considering the lack of atmosphere and the distant vantage point, but wow is it a classic on tape. These guys beat the everloving crap out of each other and keep it almost entirely in the ring. I sound like a broken record saying that when I point it out about matches that make a point to do it, but it really is appreciated. They bring only a few weapons in, and even then, they are there to get the wrestling over instead of the other way around. I've always enjoyed the contrast of the guy covered in blood dominating the guy not bleeding, and we got that here with Kobayashi on offense for a while. This is definitely a match made for video, not consciously in the WWE way, but something that just translates better as a viewing experience this way I have to believe. So much brutality and psychology, so much great selling and in some ways (some ways), the garbage wrestling version of Tamura-Yamamoto: stylistically peerless 20-minute draw between two wrestlers who were very much on the same page and knew exactly what they wanted to convey. A whopper of a match. ****1/2

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Great match. It really evolved over time and felt more like a fight with each passing moment. Much like Kasai, Abdullah is showing much more restraint and reliance on wrestling compared to the straight hardcore stuff that would come later. This featured one of the best camera footage shots I have ever seen when a forearm gets thrown and blood splatters the camera. Just a great match and couple of days for Honma. ****

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Decent match worked in an absolute vacuum. These guys are working hard at starting out with traditional wrestling and building to the garbage elements but I don't think the matches are escalating properly. The finishing stretch was a bit clunky too with too much of a disconnect between the finisher attempts and garbage spots. It felt like they were wandering about doing stuff instead of rushing headlong toward the draw. The lack of heat bothered me in a way that it doesn't when the work is more engaging and Kobayashi was awkward at times. Some of his stuff looked good but a lot of it was telegraphed due to his poor timing. Comically bad promo from Honma afterward. Made the whole thing seem like a B-match.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the match itself. Both guys worked really hard and built to some good nearfalls before the time limit draw. Kobayashi's selling was very good. Ultimately, this is a bad spot for both guys because of the lack of heat. Tough to do a great garbage match with big nearfalls in front of so few people making so little noise.

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Current Abdullah Kobayashi is a wrestler that I love and this 2000 stuff is really making me love him more and the cherry-picked stuffnive seen from the coming years hes really a pretty awesome wrestler. Ive mentioned this before but you can really feel the shift in style here between the old deathmatch style and the new. Awesome stuff.

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Another solid performance from Honma and another solid match featuring these two. This was another gritty battle where they built neatly to their weapon use. There was some brawling around the arena where Kobayashi got all bloodied up, but that blade job fell short to the previous one. The crowd was somewhat silent for the entire thing, but it didn't affect this one bit as it kept me engage because their in-ring work was captivating.

 

Good stuff.

 

***1/4

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When wrestling meets … psychological horror? This match is so heatless it’s surreal. 99% of the sound in this match comes from Kobayashi and Honma’s grunts, or the referee’s admonitions when the wrestler’s got out of hand. The behavior of the crowd is borderline voyeuristic. None of this is to say this match was bad (it’s actually quite good) … but, again, surreal. It’s just strange watching two guys go to war with one another in what is essentially an absolute vacuum, but I’m glad it happened because rarely does wrestling surprise me nowadays, so I’m sincerely ecstatic when it does.

Stray Observation:

  • Enough about the atmosphere because the action here is really, really good and deserves a mention. The violence escalates as the match progresses, and we get a brutal finishing stretch filled with hard-hitting bombs and well-earned nearfalls.

Rating: ****

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