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Kendo Kashin: Best of/Primer

Ma Stump Puller

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I've spent the last few weeks trying to figure out if Kendo Kashin is actually worth his flowers or if he's just a unmotivated/lazy performer. Here are the facts learned from watching 100+ outings, spread out from his rookie years all the way to his very recent RJPW and NOAH stuff. Here's some basic info on the guy

"Is Kendo Kashin lazy?"

This is the most common complaint about the guy. In some aspects, yes: Kashin tends to repeat sequences over and over, and in a meta-sense the audience know his routine well and respond way before anything happens because they know how things go step by step. He is a very sequence-based performer. He doesn't really improvise, he just has a set of things he wants to do and goes through them one by one. His routine might change somewhat based on him adding in a new element or two depending on who he's with, but his general formula stays the same. This makes him consistent in many matches, but also complacent. There are matches where he's clearly just in auto-pilot, yes, but I would say that's fairly rare most of the time. 

"What's his defining feature?"

Kashin is mostly defined by his trollish antics and character work: the best I could compare him to is someone like The Destroyer, someone who's consistently pulling sneaky shit to mess with people, either in the match or not. This makes him enjoyable as he'll always have something new to throw onto the table that'll grab your attention and the rest of the audience. 

"How does he wrestle?"

Kashin confuses people a lot at first because you generally think a Jr-masked man is going to be a Rey or a Liger or at least some sort of agile performer. The truth is that he's frankly none of those things: Kashin works a very specific style that looks weird at first, but there's nuance to how and why he does it in how he's able to aggravate and annoy his opponents to the point where he can slip on a quick submission and win things fast. If Kashin can win with cheap antics, he will and he won't really care afterwards. Him dicking around is at times just aimless trolling, but there's usually a rhyme or reason as to why he does what he does.

"Does he have good matches?"

Absolutely. Some people tend to go all the way with saying that Kashin either never had a good match or if he did have one, he was 100% carried, which I really can't agree with. He has plenty of good to outright amazing matches in him when he's working with talent that gets the best out of his style. Yes, there's obvious lulls in his history of performances (especially in his second half where he gets rusty due to working sporadically in IGF and the like) but if you can appreciate how he works, there's plenty to go off.

"What are his best matches?"

This is a good lead-in to how I'll be formatting his best stuff: mainly into his pre-Kashin days as Tokimitsu Ishizawa, bratty submission lad, his best workrate matches and then his best comedy matches. That distinction is made so that every aspect can be covered as opposed to simply a small look into just one aspect, which while beneficial for smaller wrestlers with less range, it doesn't do Kashin much justice in that department. I'll not ramble about the matches too much bar the really significant ones. 


Tokimitsu Ishizawa: Best of

Through much of the Young Lions around this time was undocumented, there's a considerable amount of material still around and it's definitely enough to warrant a separate section, especially given Ishizawa pre-gimmick change is a more subdued, grounded mat-based wrestler; some say his work here is far better than his later Kashin work simply because of that fact. Under the surface is a more heelish figure who gets easily frustrated and tends to lean into dirty antics when he's not getting his way, something noticeable in a lot of his matches. To appreciate the guy best, there's about five or so matches really worth your time:

Vs. Liger (NJPW Dream Win IV 24.01.1994)

This match has a bait and switch in that Ishizawa attacks Liger before the bell and tries some heel shit to get a upset cross armbreaker win. Liger gets out and proceeds to beat the ever-loving shit out of the little snot for 9 minutes, to the point that the audience turn and start rooting for his opponent instead of just him. Not much workrate but a great early example of Kashin's selling and psychology, playing the defensive role that he'll be essentially doing for the rest of the 90's, showing a ton of guts as he tries and fails to succeed. 

Vs. Shinjiro Otani (NJPW Hyper Battle 09.03.1993)

While these two will have a long rivalry with each other later on, this is a particularly interesting early battle between them as it's almost all set on the mat in submission work. Of course, these two are still Young Lions at the end of the day, so those trappings are apparent in some areas. That said, it's mostly just a no-nonsense mat-scuffle with some drama near the end as they both get fed up with the slow pace and start bombing each other to a rugged conclusion.

Vs.Yuki Ishikawa (NJPW G1 Climax Special Tag 4 24.09.1993)

7 minutes of some really well done, really solid mat work exchanges. Very few submissions as those are saved for rope breaks and as proper match enders, not as rest-holds or the like. The pace is frantic, with both men engaging in a lot of one-upmanship as they both struggle to out-do the other in basically everything that matters. Great heel work near the end as Ishizawa gets frustrated and starts bending the rules, with it building to a basic but very well done conclusion that makes perfect logical sense with the rest of the match. Shoot-style mixed with great heat-seeking antics always works really well for me, and it's GREAT here. If you can just watch one of these matches, pick this one. 

Vs. Naoki Sato (UWF-I All Out Contend Battle 25.11.1995)

Sato is a pretty good worker already but this in particular was a fun watch. Ishizawa is aggressive and almost always wired to find ways around Sato's natural advantages, with this going not so well sometimes as he gets caught in submissions and the like. First half is just competent back and forth grappling until Ishizawa pulls another tantrum and starts stomping and cheating, which turns the second half into a desperate fight for survival as Sato and co just start going right into big shots and submissions. Frantic, but not sloppy at all and surprisingly fast-paced in places. 

Vs. Dean Malenko (Best of the Super Jr III Tag 2 24.05.1996) 

Malenko is obviously the superior of the two, but Ishizawa shows his intelligent mat-work by managing to handle his mentor a good few times here with his submission wangling, but this is also the best transition into the Kashin persona you are really going to get, as he goes way beyond what he normally does and starts going for the nasty hand-biting and whatnot when push comes to shove. Malenko is smooth as anything here but I think Kashin really shows just how much he can actually do here as he goes step to step against his mentor with his sharp counters and unexpected submission attempts. A fantastic sub-10 minute sprint.

If you liked those, here are some extras:

Vs. Sakuraba (NJPW Battle Final Tag 15 10.12.1995)

W/ Nagata vs Sakuraba & Kanehara (NJPW New Japan Pro Wrestling Vs. UWF International 09.10.1995)

W/ Yasuda vs Sakuraba & Kanehara (UWF-I All-Out Contend Battle 11.10.1995)

W/ Malenko vs Shoichi Funaki & Yuki Ishikawa (NJPW Super Grade Tag League IV 09.10.1994)



Kendo Kashin: Best of (Workrate)

Kashin is a tricky costumer because his antics and gimmick don't always allow the wrestler underneath to shine effectively, not helped by the man being massively influenced by the styling of German Catch where sequences tend to repeat into themselves. That said, he does have great matches. Here are the best five for new viewers. 

Vs. Atlantis (Michinoku Pro 3rd Fukumen World League 24.08.2003) 

The best example of Kashin's heel antics playing up great with a strong babyface. Atlantis had to crawl through a match earlier in the card to reach this spot, namely after Kashin stole a win against him earlier in the World League, so he's weakened and Kashin has virtually all of the advantages. Absolutely brutal heel work by him throughout as he hones in on the arm and just generally is such a massive bastard: everything he does is spiteful and designed to hurt Atlantis in every measure possible. There's some comedy in the middle half that's fairly alright, but the ring work is the best feature about this, and Atlantis' comebacks are well done and get the crowd going. Great technical work paired with solid heel/face psychology made this a easy inclusion here. Atlantis is great, but Kashin's heat-seeking antics make this more than just a typical Japan lucha outing. 

Vs. Otani (NJPW Super Grade Tag League VII 08.12.1997)

Realistically I could've put ANY of these two in a match together on here because they work so well, but this one is widely accepted to be the best one, namely because of the non-stop action paired with intelligent limb-targeting and counters. Otani's arm gets wrecked here and he doesn't just sell it all the way though the match, but he also baits out Kashin into bad positions by almost using the arm as bait to grab him into submissions of his own. Everyone in the crowd is hot for Kashin and he pulls out a strong babyface performance as he struggles with Otani's bombs and general sheer grit stacking on as time goes on, leading to more risky moves to try to finish things proper. It's a heated match, but it's also a smartly worked one that balances heat with technique in a great combination.

Vs. Liger (NJPW Hyper Battle 1998 14.03.1998)

Spoilers: Kashin is a big old asshole in this one, namely out of desperation to out-do his former mentor. This is enhanced with the whole 1997 storyline of Liger being in Kashin's corner and trying to help him against the more experienced bullies of the division, with Kashin just completely focused on burning all of that down just so he can get the big win. His shit is fairly minimalistic here but it works so well alongside the vicious nature of how he does it, as well as Liger selling for everything super effectively. It comes down to a matter of fatigue as Liger can't get his bombs in with a crappy arm (and even if he can, he can't make the pin soon enough to win) and Kashin just keeps hunting down the guy with more baggage. It's a great passing of the torch in a weird, twisted way.

Vs. Minoru Tanaka (Best Of The Super Junior VI 21.05.1999)

The most technical Kashin had been since his Young Lion days, this was a fantastic outing where the two just scramble on the mat over and over for their signature holds: Tanaka with his kneebars and Kashin with his armbreakers. Tanaka's strikes are a bit too light and tend to wiff a lot, but outside of that I thought this was a heated exchange, but also essentially just a spotshow of submissions as the lads just go back and forth with them over and over, with a lot of cheating from Kashin alongside brilliant transitions from Tanaka into offence. It's really a difference between a experienced heel and a hot-headed babyface in a fantastical race to the finish. Isn't going to be for everyone but lots of fun.

Vs. Ryuji Hijikata (AJPW Summer Action Series 19.07.2003)

Ryuji is mostly a pretty bleh Battlarts guy but he gets his big break here in the middle of Kashin's title reign to get his moment in the sun. Great bombs and strikes from the former as Kashin struggles to get any lead on him and outright gets destroyed in places because of just how much this guy can pull out. Don't expect a masterpiece but it's a great example of Kashin selling and bumping to get over a guy to the point where you think this random mid-card bloke might actually nab the belt for himself. No easy task, yet done here quite easily.


Vs. Carl Greco (AJPW Champion Carnival 2003 12.04.2003)

All of his German Catch footage (Vs Eckstein, Kovac)

Vs. Fuchi (AJPW Grand Champion Carnival 13.04.2002) 

His 1997 Struggle series (Koji Kanemoto duo matches, Yamazaki and Liger tags) 

Vs. Suwama (19.09.2016)

W/ Kojima vs. Fuchi & Kawada (AJPW Super Power Series 2003 25.03.2003) 


Kendo Kashin: Best of (Comedy)

This is a bit harder to grade because comedy is subjective and I really, REALLY don't like most of his NOAH shit, half of which is the same gags over and over. There's enough to include here, through. 

Vs. Fuminori Abe (RJPW Strong Style Pro-Wrestling 17.12.2021)

Abe is talented but he gets the memo here and decides to use that talent in wacky and goofy ways, which works for him at the start until it doesn't. He's also young enough to essentially fangirl over Kashin to the point of trying to copy his style, but of course failing at it as he can't outdo the master cheater. It's nothing special in terms of moves or whatever but there's some competent mat work and the finish makes sense given Abe's eccentric attitude. Fun stuff. 

Vs. Masato Tanaka (NOAH Gain Control in Nagoya 23.02.2022)

Tanaka in a comedy match sounds dumb...and it is, but it surprisingly works well here. Kashin pulls out the usual gags but you can tell underneath kayfabe-wise that he's got it in for Tanaka and pulls out some more serious offence. Of course Tanaka is the straight man and doesn't give two shits about Kashin doing whatever he's doing, leading to a frantic and bizarre ending that felt right out of COVID-era wrestling. Not for everyone but I thought this was a solid watch given the two having decent chemistry and Tanaka being a trooper as per usual.

Vs. Atsushi Aoki (AJPW 4th Royal Road Tournament 2016 (17.09.2016)

The whole thing here is that the ref is massively biased against Aoki and allows Kashin to cheat, leading to a pretty dumb match where Aoki's just bitching about the unfairness or hitting some good moves. Kashin works well with what he's given and he's pretty entertaining when just pulling out nonsense for the win. Nothing much else to say, it's just a simplistic match format with some fun sequences. 

Vs. Super Sasadango Machine (DDT Judgement 2016 (21.03.2016)

I could really put all of Kashin's DDT material here but this was so out there that it had to be added. This is a "Ultimate Royal Barbed Wire PowerPoint No Power Blast PWF Rules Match" which is pretty simple as you can imagine. First half is literally Sasadango selling merch via Powerpoint, the second is a weird trip of a match where it's just gag after gag. Not everything hits, but it's a lot of confusing nonsense as per DDT standards, and it's just a experience to try to figure out what is happening in places. Bizarre, strange....yep that's it.

Vs. Toshiaki Kawada (G1 Climax 07.08.2005) 

Kashin really doesn't have any chance in hell of handling Kawada even in the state he's in, so Kashin just fucks around with him and keeps beating up a young Taichi on the outside casually when he's on the backend. There's some good work in here as Kawada has to keep control of things and succeeds: mostly. Kashin is as sneaky as ever though so we get a lot of fun character interaction between the pair as Kashin keeps messing around and his opponent keeps throwing bombs and huge shots to keep things under control. It's a simplistic dynamic but Kashin naturally has a lot of charm and the audience really got into this in the last minute or so. Interesting watch between two guys who'd you never think shared a ring with the other. 


The rest of Kashin's DDT reign

W/ Abdullah the Butcher vs. Fuchi & Daijiro Matsui (AJPW Royal Road 30 Giant Battle 2nd 30.08.2002)

W/ Nagata vs. Sasaki & Nakanishi (NJPW Nexess 03.05.2004)

Vs. Necro Butcher Vs. Rob Van Dam (IGF Genome6 Toukon Bom-Ba-Ye 15.08.2008)

Vs. Kenoh (NOAH Great Voyage 2021 In Yokohama 07.03.2021)



Hopefully this has helped to widen your spectrum of how capable Kashin is in terms of what he can do in the ring. It's probably not going to make him a top ten super pick for yourself, but I figured he was worth something considering his huge career and how much I'd watched of the guy. He's definitely not some hidden gem or anything but I firmly believe he's very much underlooked in many circles. 




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