After watching the December 1993 bout between Akira Taue and Toshiaki Kawada vs Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi, the next bout on the ‘Burning: A Guide To Kenta Kobashi’s Greatness’ (click here for the list) was their tag team match from 1995, often called the greatest tag team match ever. But, upon re-reading the list again, I seemed to have missed a match: Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Masanobu Fuchi and Yoshinari Ogawa! Kobashi and Kikuchi were one half of the thrilling tag team match against Dan Kroffat and Doug Furnas (click here for my review) in front of an incredibly hot crowd. Now, I could only find a terrible version of the bout on Dailymotion, split into two parts, no less…and that had a detrimental effect on my enjoyment of said bout!
For one, this looked like it had been videotaped on a potato. I couldn’t enlarge the video, lest the picture become an indescribable blur. Due to their different attires, I could just about distinguish the wrestlers…but at times, I had to squint, and gave myself something of a headache! For two, for some reason the video showed the wrestlers’ entrances (with Fuchi and Ogawa coming out to ‘Danger Zone,’ hilariously!)…and then cut to some point in the match. I’m not sure how far into the match, and considering the rest of the match fills twenty odd minutes, it’s hard to guess how much time had elapsed. All I can say is that Kikuchi looked like he was taking a beating from Fuchi and Ogawa and Kobashi was waiting for a hot tag…and that hot tag happens a minute or so after the action begins. So I missed all that tension! And, to top things off, the sound in the second part of the video was out of sync with the footage (perhaps an error on my laptop). The sound occurred half a second before the action on the screen, thus ruining any sense of surprise at someone kicking out of a pinfall, etc.
However, from what I could see, this had the makings of a very good, even great, bout. Having never seen Fuchi/Ogawa in action, they didn’t look like your typical wrestler. Fuchi looked like someone’s out of shape dad, and Ogawa looked like he was barely in his teens (to be fair, so did Kikuchi). However, what they lacked in body shape they made up for in wrestling. Fuchi played the angry old man, fed up with all these youngsters stealing all the spotlight. He dissected Kobashi’s knee with pleasure and finesse, and surprised me with a picture perfect enziguri at one point (complete with impressive height on the jump). He reminded me a little of Minoru Suzuki; all about psychology and limb work, unimpressed with modern day theatrics. Ogawa complimented him; the young, spry high flier, willing to put his body on the line to impress his tag team partner and prove he belonged in the same league as other up and comers (like Kobashi).
As always, the crowd were super hot, blowing the roof off for each hot tag. There’s a point where a limping Kobashi just manages to tag in Kikuchi and the crowd lose their minds. Of course, the fantastic heel work by Fuchi and Ogawa nudges the crowd along. They delve into heel tactics even more so than the team of Kroffat and Furnas, for example distracting the referee and using a unique double submission in the corner to wear Kikuchi down. And the action towards the end keeps you guessing, keeps you on your toes…well, it would have done if the sound was properly synced up!
Sometimes, it’s all about the presentation. Although it has toned down in recent months, I was finding it hard to watch modern day WWE with the constant cutting to different camera angles. It distracted me from the action, rather than pulled me into it (the same can be said with many, many modern fight scenes in Hollywood films). Some of those AJPW matches from the 1990s have poor copies, and this is by far the worst one I’ve witnessed. It harmed my enjoyment of the bout. Cutting to partway through the match and sound synchronisation issues were my major gripes with this version. Perhaps somewhere out there is a better version…because this looked like a great bout. But for now, I’ll just have to call it an average one…even though I know it’s probably a 4*, or even 5* bout if presented in its original form.
Hammy’s Rating: *** (out of 5)
Click here for ‘Reviews of Wrestling Matches’
My Other Reviews of ‘Burning: The Greatness of Kenta Kobashi’ (in date order)
- 144. Danny Kroffat & Doug Furnas (c) vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (All-Asia Tag Team Championship, AJPW Super Power Series 1992 25.05.1992)
- 146. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Masanobu Fuchi & Yoshinari Ogawa (AJPW Summer Action Series 5.7.1992)
- 143. ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams vs Kenta Kobashi (AJPW Summer Action Series II 31/8/1993)
- 145. Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa (AJPW Real World Tag League 3.12.1993)
- 147. Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW World Tag Team Championship, AJPW Super Power Series 9.6.1995)
- 149. Toshiaki Kawada (c) vs Kenta Kobashi (Triple Crown Championship Match, AJPW Super Power Series 12/6/1998)
- 148. Kenta Kobashi vs Jun Akiyama (Pro Wrestling NOAH August 6th 2000)
- 139. Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs Kenta Kobashi (GHC Heavyweight Championship, Pro Wrestling Noah Navigate For Evolution 1.3.2003)
- 150. Kenta Kobashi (c) vs Yoshihiro Takayama (GHC Championship Match, Pro Wrestling NOAH Encountering Navigation 2004)
And here are some other reviews of Kobashi’s matches:
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