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[2001-04-09-NJPW] Shinya Hashimoto vs Kensuke Sasaki


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I remember hearing about this match, I think I read an old article from SSS Stuart which depicted it as a disaster and shit on the booking and the Inokiism in it. Luckily I'm way too into absurdism to care about who wins in pro wrestling (especially in a fifteen year old match) and the way it was described really made me want to see it. Honestly this might be the best Hashimoto-Kensuke Sasaki match. I'm not sure how many matches they've had against each other but of the top off my head I can think of a Hash IWGP Title defence vs. Power Warrior, one in the Dome and a G1 match and I would have this one above all of them. It's billed as a "no rules deathmatch", that doesn't mean you're going to get garbage spots and heavily gimmicked stuff, just more punches to the face and also a very clever submission spot built around the stipulation. Hashimoto comes out wearing boxing gloves and man do these two beat on one another, they throw a lot of nasty shots in close range and while clinching before the match evolves into ridiculous bomb throwing. I could see the uniqueness of the pacing and (somewhat of) the finish throwing some folks off but I really appreciated them. It's esentially a proto-Futen match. ****

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  • GSR changed the title to [2001-04-09-NJPW] Shinya Hashimoto vs Kensuke Sasaki
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Shinya Hashimoto vs Kensuke Sasaki - NJPW Osaka Dome 4/9/01

There is 1/4 Dome match between these two I think in 96 that I like a lot so I was intrigued by this match as the stipulation was a Death Match which just means Last Man Standing but MMA-style because it is 2001 New Japan. Hashimoto is full on Zero-One and this has to be one of the last matches he had with NJPW. Sasaki has hit the skids after a great 2000 and early 2001. He dropped the IWGP belt to Norton and lost this match to an invading Hashimoto. The writing is definitely on the wall for Sasaki who I don’t think would find his footing again until 2005 against Kobashi in the Dome.

I thought this was pretty good but nothing too wild. Hashimoto has MMA Gloves, Sasaki has his mullet. Striking and clinch work to start. Sasaki gets the first throw out of a waist lock. He uses the takedown to try a Double Wristlock and then executes the Cross-Armbreaker but leaves it on extra long in the ropes because it is a Death Match. Hashimoto has to pull himself out to break which was a great spot. Best drama of the match. Hashimoto comes in and WAILS on Sasaki. Brutha punches right to the face; Sasaki takes them like a champ.  Now Sasaki powders. The gloves comes off. Hashimoto CHOPS him down with the edge of his hand! Gets a 7 count. Hashimoto goes for an armbar takedown and Sasaki gets a crotch hold into a half Northern Lights Bomb half body slam. Go Sasaki Go! Big meaty Lariats! Weak transition as Hashimoto blows this all off to hit some knee lifts into a Brainbuster, it takes a couple more kicks and that’s it. I think if Sasaki got one big near fall and they came up with a better way for Hashimoto to take back over this would have been incredible but as it is a solid shoot-style brawl. ***1/4

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