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Sunday, June 11, 2017

All Time MOTY List Head to Head 2004: Necro v. Klein V. Kobashi v. Takayama

Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH 4/25/04)

ER: Wow. I...didn't actually love this. And I feel kind of stupid about it, because everything I've seen written about the match is about how great it is. And this was a period of NOAH I still loved, in fact it was probably still my favorite promotion. But this felt much more like Omega/Okada than any of my favorite NOAH/AJPW singles main events. I liked elements of the match - several of them - like the slow early build that felt ominous, as if neither man wanted to take the first shot, and the build made that first backhand by Kobashi feel even nastier. Kobashi's chops to the neck all match looked vicious, and Takayama's shots looked bone rattling. Takayama's armwork made sense, and Kobashi sold it nicely, sometimes very subtly (using his other arm to chop)...and things just got weird for me from there. We got more stand and strike exchanges, we started trading ugly headdrop suplexes, Kobashi randomly grabbed his arm 10 minutes after the arm work - something I hadn't seen him do yet - and within a minute threw one of several burning lariats (so he overtly reminded me his arm still hurt, right before using his arm more than he did the rest of the match. I guess I'm supposed to buy that he's working through the pain?), both do death selling before getting right back up and throwing suplexes again. A lot of it just didn't work for me and the build felt scattered all over the place. I liked Takayama going MMA, but felt like it was too late in the match. I didn't like it as a desperation move, I like it more when a guy does it as a condescending move. Kobashi dumps him with the nastiest brainbuster and hitting more lariats. The suplex trading and strike exchanges just felt too modern NJPW to me, and it's not something that does it for me anymore. The strikes and basics here looked much better - and that counts for a lot, as I do think this is a better version of modern NJPW and will always look better than Okada/Omega. But it's not a framework I enjoy. I honestly think I need to revisit this, as it felt like I was watching a different match than the one I read about as 100% praised.

PAS: I think Eric is nuts, this is a great heavyweight slugfest between two monstrous dudes, a big boy fight which has all the drama and violence the moment demands. Takayama has some of best thudding shots in wrestling and everytime he lands a knee or kick it has this awesome bass sound like a cricket bat hitting a watermelon. There were a bunch of cool individual moments.  I loved the spot when they are battling on the floor, Kobashi tries to get into the ring and Takayama just throws him off the apron with a german. Lots of the times an apron spot is set up and teased, but here it is just a surprise moment of violence and it is awesome. Kobashi diving into the corner on an attack and getting caught mid air with a huge knee was great. During the final run Takayama flipping out and throwing this great MMA combo was awesome, this was the fight of his life and he was going to go back into PRIDE to finish this guy off, so cool like something out of an epic Low-Ki match. The arm selling complaint is really odd, Kobashi sells the arm during the entire finish run, including failing to getting Takayama up for a couple of suplexes and the burning hammer, and I totally buy a maniac like Kobashi continuing to throw lariats with a busted arm, he sells each lariat like a boxer with a broken hand who was going to punch through the pain. This was a NOAH Kobashi bomb fest, they aren't my favorite type of matches, but this was an all timer for that style.

ER: Phil's criticisms of my criticisms are fair. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood or was too inebriated while watching and reviewing this match. Maybe I accidentally watched Okada/Omega again and my brain said "Let's see...promotion stalwart vs. guy with shitty hair...yep, this must be the match".


ER: This really surprised me. Takayama was one of the main reasons I got so into puro in 2001/2002, but this didn't do much for me. Maybe it's because I know both guys are brain damaged and/or crippled now, but I just didn't like this. And on memory I was expecting it to be the new champ. But Necro retains his improbable crown.

PAS: Kobashi and Takayama wins pretty clearly for me, at this point the Necro match retaining the title has an Eric as twin Hebners feel to it.

ER: I would be fully willing, wholeheartedly, to rewatch this match if enough people think I didn't give it a fair shake. Chalk the challenge up to questionable officiating and run the rematch. I just can't shake that something felt off for me about the match...

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Blogger Discotortoise said...

It's an excellent match, but I was left thinking that matches like Kobashi-Taue & Hash-Kawada were distinctly better. I'm still with Guerrero-Lesnar as the best of the '04 candidates, though.

7:51 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

Taue/Kobashi was Taue's last stand, right? His last big match singles performance (Although I think he had a great one against Marufuji in 2006)? I know I loved that one. And Hash/Kawada will likely be the perma-champ.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Brett said...

I like the match, but felt it was overrated. Felt a little bloated. I actually prefer Takayama/Kenta from the same year, and it doesn't even remotely touch Misawa/Takayama from 2002.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I'd have it above Necro/Klein on an '04 MOTY list, but I don't LOVE it either. I actually preferred the match from 2000 the last time I watched it. Bloated is probably a good word for the '04 match. Thought the arm work in the '00 match felt more consequential, too. My MOTY for 2004 is one of the two big Tamura match from U-Style (vs Kohsaka and Ito), though I think Rey/Chavo from the Great American Bash has an honest to goodness case as well.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Discotortoise said...

Chavo-Rey is extremely underrated. Might be better than any Eddie-Rey match outside of Havoc '97. A "less is more" clinic.

'04 also has the wild Perrito-Santo match for the "always figure out Santo's personal MOTY first" rule.

And while it's not really Taue's last great match, his performance in it is so good at conveying that HE thinks it's full live-or-die that I'd call it his last serious upper-tier one and definitely the last great intra-Pillars singles match. His win over Rikio for the GHC in late '05 is pretty special (sold out Budokan) and almost certainly Rikio's best ever, and I actually kinda like Rikio!

3:18 AM  

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