Mike Reviews – Pro Wrestling NOAH Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Show (31st May 2021)

Konnichiwa!

Back with another NOAH review, because YOU demanded it! (Well, a few people did at least)

Mistuharu Misawa formed NOAH in 2000 after taking the majority of the All Japan Pro Wrestling roster and setting up a brand new company. In an absolute tragedy he passed away during a match in June 2009, so this is an event to honour his memory by the company he founded.

I’m a big Misawa fan, even to the point that I reached maximum nerd level in my younger days by being able to recreate spots of his move for move on the Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 video game. One of my fondest memories from attending a wrestling show was seeing him wrestle at the Coventry Sky Dome in 2008.

This is up on FITE right now and has English commentary, so if you’re curious about the product and fancy giving it a try, there’s really no better time. It’s a step up from having to buy tapes either online or from Extreme Central UK in Manchester like I had to do back in the day that’s for sure!

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Bret vs. Misawa, Savage vs. Tenryu & Hogan vs. Hansen (and other Dream Matches!)

 

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Hogan & Hansen: Main Event in the making!

WWF/AJPW/NJPW WRESTLING SUMMIT:
(Tokyo Dome, April 13th, 1990)

* This is a pretty wild and wacky card, full of the kind of “Dream Matches” you’ll never see again- I’m really shocked it’s not more famous. I mean, it’s a triple-show with All Japan, New Japan, AND the WWF all at once! In the Tokyo Dome! Apparently highlights were aired on Japanese TV, but complexities with the rights led to the full event never being shown in its entirety (which might be why it’s so obscure). The biggest matches are Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen, Macho Man vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and the Ultimate Warrior vs. Ted DiBiase. The WON awards declared this the “Best Major Wrestling Show” of 1990!

“TL;DR” Version: So come see Bret Hart vs. Mitsuharu Misawa in the most disappointing Dream Match of all time! Hogan with his “Japan working boots” (where he’s more “Unstoppable Monster” than the Technically-Gifted Powerhouse I was led to believe he was) on against Stan Hansen in one of his greatest matches ever! Macho King & Queen Sherri doing their schtick against a stoic top-tier Japanese legend in a befuddled Tenryu! Grumpy ol’ Jumbo Tsuruta dealing with hard-working heels in Martel & Perfect!

The show had two dark matches- Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas & Joe Malenko beat Samson Fuyuki, Tatsumi Kitahara & Toshiaki Kawada in (11:56), and Jushin Liger beat Akira Nogami in (8:37). An extremely shaky fancam of the latter exists- it’s mostly hold-trading. They trade corner moves and Liger hits a surfboard and a rock-the-cradle. They trade flash-pins and Nogami hits a very good plancha and German Suplex for two, but Liger dropkicks him coming off the top and hits a Tope Con Hilo to the floor! He misses a roundhouse kick but gets a powerslam and finishes with a Moonsault Press. Looks **1/2-ish but holy god am I not gonna go move-for-move with such a shaky vid.

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Bridge of Dreams- Tokyo Dome Supershow (Part 2)

WEEKLY PRO WRESTLING “BRIDGE OF DREAMS”:

* Welcome to Part Two! This is the part of the massive interpromotional show that sees Michinoku-Pro and All Japan put on their best stuff in 6-Man Tags, and then New Japan putting on… that match. The story goes that they were gonna put on a throwaway bout until everyone else brought their A-game matches, so they had to scramble and put their top stars in a bout to be a proper “Main Event”. But… oof. They also hit the YouTube video with an immediate copywrite claim over the Main Event, so it’s missing from the show above, but I managed to finagle an MP4.

See Part One here!

“TL;DR- What’s the Deal?”: 4-5 all-time classic matches, the women showing up nearly everybody, worked shoots, bloodbaths, spotfests, comedy- something for everybody. Two more ****+ matches to go!

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Mike Reviews: Kenta Kobashi GHC Heavyweight History – Part One

Hello You!

I thought I’d try something a bit different and actually cover some classic Pro Wrestling NOAH for a change. In the early to mid-00’s, NOAH was probably the most consistently great wrestling company in the world. It had a great Junior Heavyweight division anchored by the likes of KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Ricky Marvin and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, talented youngsters coming through the ranks such as Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rkioh, Mohamed Yone and Go Shiozaki, dependable veterans in the mid-card who could be relied upon such as Tamon Honda, Takuma Sano, Daisuke Ikeda and Akitoshi Saito, and most importantly a really good main event scene featuring the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama, Yoshihiro Takayama and Minoru Suzuki.

However, the biggest star of them all was the man who held the GHC (The equivalent to New Japan’s IWGP) Heavyweight Title for two years from 2003 to 2005, having great matches with basically everyone along the way. That man was none other than Kenta Kobashi, the inventor of The Burning Hammer, an all-round elite level worker and a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer. Not only was Kobashi superb in the ring, but he was also a hit at the box office and NOAH enjoyed a lot of success during his reign.

The zenith of Kobashi’s reign was likely headlining NOAH’s first ever Tokyo Dome show in 2004, but he also enjoyed a spate of sell outs at Budokan Hall and defended the belt in a number of classic bouts, dragging top level matches out of basically everyone he faced ala Ric Flair during his Title reigns during the 80’s.

Personally I’d say Kenta Kobashi is probably my favourite wrestler of all-time. Whether it was coming up with inventive suplexes, flying through the air with a moonsault or just destroying his opponent with hard knife edge chops, Kobashi could seemingly have an epic and enjoyable match with practically anyone and he almost always elevated the people he wrestled. Losing to Kenta Kobashi in an epic bout would almost always raise the defeated opponents stock, not lower it.

What I like most about Kobashi though is his selling, his facial expressions specifically. Kobashi’s facials are possibly some of the greatest of all-time, as he could convey a mixture of pain, desperation, anger and defiance like almost no one else. It’s one of the reasons why I think Kota Ibushi is so good as well actually, as he can do similar with his own expert facial expressions.

So with intro’s out of the way, I suppose I best explain what this is going to be all about. During the late 00’s G+ in Japan put together a compilation of all of the matches from Kobashi’s GHC Heavyweight Title reign. I eventually picked this up on DVD, but some kind uploaders on YouTube have uploaded the whole thing for public consumption. I won’t post the link here in case I accidentally drop them in hot water, but a quick search should be able to bring it up rather easily.

Obviously the full video is close to 9 hours long, so I won’t be doing it all in one sitting. Basically, whenever I get the time I’ll upload 2 or 3 matches when the opportunity arises. I’m not expecting this to be a particularly regular thing due to all the other commitments I have, but it will be a nice side project that I can bust out now and then when I can.

So, with the longest intro in Blog history completed, why don’t we watch some chuffing wrestling?

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Mike’s Mini Review: Mitsuharu Misawa Vs Toshiaki Kawada – 03 06 1994

Hello You!

For those not aware, 25 years ago today a very notorious bout took place in All Japan Pro Wrestling between Mitusharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. In case you don’t recognise the names, both Misawa and Kawada were the top two stars of All Japan at the time and this was a much anticipated collision between the two.

Both men had actually been tag team partners and allies in the not too distant past prior to this contest, but by the time 1994 rolled around both men had become heated rivals, both on and off screen. Thankfully it led to magic between the two and they often produced an epic chemistry together, one that helped make All Japan incredibly successful during the 90’s.

The two hadn’t met in a match for the famed All Japan Triple Crown of Titles for nearly two years, so this match had a lot of hype going into it and was the talk of the internet wrestling world following its conclusion due to how great a match it ended up being.

Seeing as today is the anniversary of the match, I thought I’d review it seeing as I haven’t watched it in a while and the milestone deserved some recognition. So without further ado, let’s say the way back machine to Budokan Hall for some Retro Wrestle action!

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