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[1974-12-12-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Strong Kobayashi


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Inoki faces the ogre known as Strong Kobayashi again, who now has a creepy mustache too. Inoki was pretty much a bully in the last match, and he's acting outright heelish again. He throws the first punch, cheapshots constantly, goes for the eyes and some pretty nasty chokes and keeps taunting Kobayashi, who is really fired up. There is some really fun grappling again and the crowd really gets into Kobayashi as the face, implausible as it may be. The second half loses direction a little as Kobayashi was working Inoki's back and just... stops doing it. He liked to go for restholds too. The match gets hot again when Inoki bloodies Kobayashi and he fires up big time, going after Inoki with suitably troll-like punches and headbutts, only to be met with that devastating straight punch again. Another fun match in the Inoki resume altough the biggest problem was that you couldn't really buy Kobayashi as having a chance especially after he abandoned his back work strategy. You blew this one by yourself, Shozo.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1974-12-12-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Strong Kobayashi
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NWF Heavyweight Champion Antonio Inoki vs Strong Kobayashi - NJPW 12/12/74

Konnichiwa from Japan! Writing this from Hakone, jet lagged six ways from Sunday. I had Naito vs Tsuiji all teed up from Sakura Genesis and I was like is that what I really want to watch? Look I know that’s what I am going to get come next Monday but fuck it I fell in love with Japan because of shit like this. This matches rules. HARD~!

Hot Take: Wrestlers nowadays sells way too much. They undercut the credibility of their comeback and can grind matches to a halt with their overselling. I went to WrestleMania last weekend and I thought Gunther vs Sami Zayn was a top match of the weekend on the back of a hot closing stretch but that beginning was pretty bad. Zayn was selling two minutes in like they were in minute twenty. There are levels to this, brutha. Watching this match was a breath of fresh air. It was all register, register, register. They would register to get the crowd hot and fire up. The heat was explosive in this match.

Very fun Inokiist opening to start with Inoki nailing two Big DROPKICKs to start, 1-2-3! Just like that the match is over. No wait Kobayashi had his foot clearly over the bottom rope since like one but ref was locked in on the shoulders. Big brouhaha leads to the match restarting. From there, it is just brilliant 70s wrestling. Kobayashi is the roughhouser extraordinaire. Kobayashi is competent on the mat but would rather by romping and stomping. While Inoki is working holds with vim & vigor. Inoki starts throwing feigned closed fists. Kobayashi retaliates with a top wristlock takedown into stomps to Inoki’s head to force him to powder. Inoki doesn’t oversell. He sells it enough so you know what you watched was roughhousing. It was not illegal but it was not clean either. Inoki comes roaring back with a Butterfly Lock and a Cravate. The ref breaks up the Cravate because Kobayashi is claiming choke. Again the way Kobayashi collapses sells the choke. Inoki defends himself by putting the hold on the ref. I love it. Inoki goes to crowd Kobayashi in the corner but Kobayashi cheap shots him and again uses punches and stomps to force Inoki to powder. Inoki comes back again working holds like his signature Indian Deathlock weigh Back Bend which Kobayashi uses chokes to get out of. Inoki converts that into a Bow & Arrow but they are in the ropes. Kobayashi crowds in the crowd with shoulder tackles and in his best near fall hits a Billy Robinson Backbreaker for a two count. Here is my one criticism this is where Inoki did need to sell more and let Kobayashi pour it on to take this to the next level. Instead we have Inoki double legging and taking it back to a Boston Crab. I know this is what drives some people crazy about Inoki is that he does not sell enough. I can appreciate early in that he registers and fires back but I do wish there was a 2-5 minute stretch in the back end where he’d give more to his opponents. Anyways that’s a nitpick because the FINISH FUCKING RULES! Inoki just clocks Kobayashi with a punch. Kobayashi walks away and just punches the turnbuckles as if to say to the ref what fuck are you going to do about that when he realizes nothing they just slug it out in awesome fashion. This ain’t no 21st Century New Japan Strike Exchange this is an old school out and out brawl! 

It gets even better from there! Inoki goes for a flying head scissors but Kobayashi falls backwards into the ropes and they take a NASTY bump. Inoki slams Kobayashi’s head into post. Teasing the Countout win which I would have loved. Kobayashi is busted open comes back in the ring pissed off and ready to throw down. Inoki cleans his fucking clock with a right and two Octocpus Stretches later wins! What a fucking fight! This has everything you want: well-defined characters that act according to their traits, struggle, urgency, a shit ton of heat and memorable plot points that rage to a climax. Call me an old crotchey man, call me crazy but they don’t make pro wrestling matches like they used to BABY~! ****1/2

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