Happy New Year!Junji Izumuda & Tsutomu Hirayanagi VS Kishin Kawabata & Mitsuo Momota
Surprisingly Hirayanagi is breaking out as a mini SUWA-like heel! He wasn’t afraid to dish out low-blows when in trouble and even heeled his own partner! He’s gonna make a fine junior heel in the future. Kawabata remains a fun guilty pleasure of mine to watch, and he pulled out a new move I haven’t seen before, where he went for an inverted corner splash but flipped inward into a senton! Kawabata finished off Hirayanagi with his top rope diving senton, but Hirayanagi was the one with the lasting impression as he gave Izumuda a low blow before leaving on his own!
Fun match, just for watching Hirayanagi’s growth.Match Rating: *
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Atsushi Aoki VS Kotaro Suzuki & Ippei Ota
This was a lot of fun! Aoki and Ota have come a long way since their rookie days, but Aoki is the obvious stand out of all the rookies with his speedy submission moves that seem to come out of nowhere. Ota is still a airplane-spin machine, and there was one rather hilarious spot where after getting spun around, Kanemaru almost dropkicked the referee! Ota still does the swinging bulldog and Buff Blockbuster, but it wasn’t enough to put away Aoki, who managed to catch Ota in a cross-armbreaker for the submission win.Match Rating: **1/2
Doug Williams & Bull Buchanan VS Masao Inoue & Takuma Sano
OK match to showcase Buchanan who will hopefully be touring regularly with NOAH since he doesn’t have many other places to go. I didn’t like the spot where both Sano and Williams just popped up and no-sold each other’s finishers. Inoue had some good exchanges with Buchanan, and Buchanan won with the Iron Bomb off the top rope on Inoue.
I think Buchanan would make a good partner for Bison Smith if they want to re-establish a monster gaijin team.Match Rating: *
Tamon Honda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Go Shiozaki VS Mohammed Yone, Takashi Sugiura & Akihiko Ito
Standard six-man tag fare here, but the highlight was easily watching Shiozaki and Ito go at it! It was really surprising that they gave Ito a finisher like the Vertebreaker / Cop Killa’, and that they would let Go kick out of it! The crowd really came alive for the hot finish, and Go did a tribute to his mentor Kobashi by almost putting Ito away with the Burning Sword short lariat! Sugiura broke up that pin attempt, but Go was able to score the win with his Go Flasher finisher.Match Rating: ***
Yoshinari Ogawa & Eddie Edwards VS KENTA & Taiji Ishimori
KENTA was in total dick mode here as he constantly took every cheap shot he could at Ogawa! It would be good for Ogawa to start putting over the new blood like everyone else has been doing over the rest of the year and hopefully they follow this up in 2008. Edwards and Ishimori had some good exchanges as well and Ishimori had Edwards beat on several occasions if not for Ogawa making the save. Edwards had a great finishing run as well, catching Ishimori with a top rope frankensteiner followed by a big powerbomb for a near fall, and finishing with a sweet looking cross-legged fisherman’s buster for the win.Match Rating: **1/2
Akira Taue & Kentaro Shiga VS Akitoshi Saito & Bison Smith
This was fun mostly when Taue was in the ring as they sort of teased a Taue/Bison feud. Shiga may have lost his hardcore title and his hair, but was still fun to watch as he wasn’t afraid to give Bison multiple low blows through out the match, including a double-hand testicular-claw to break Bison’s iron claw! Shiga fell to Saito’s Sickle Death enzuguiri though. But hopefully they continue with a Taue / Bison feud as they too had some heated exchanges here.Match Rating: **1/2
Naomichi Marufuji VS Takeshi Morishima
Well, I’d heard the hype about this match and how good or how bad it was depending on your view. A lot of complaints about the structure, but I thought it was pretty good. They played it up as the big man vs. little man match, with Morishima being a monster and Marufuji the smaller man, but not necessarily the underdog as he had a lot of tricks up his sleeve to try and take down the big man. Marufuji got in some offense you wouldn’t have expected, like an inverted powerbomb off the top rope and a flipping Shiranui (Spanish Fly / Flux Capacitor) off the ramp to the floor! He even did something new, like a new foot-stomp version of the Famouser! Marufuji actually looked like he was on his way to winning this one, till Morishima countered the Pole Shift by falling on top of him and going wild with strikes followed by a pair of SICK lariats and backdrops for the win! Match Rating: ***3/4
Kenta Kobashi Return Match: Kenta Kobashi & Yoshihiro Takayama VS Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama
The match was all about the atmosphere of Kobashi being back in the ring, and man doesn’t seem to have lost a step despite being away from the ring for over a year! The crowd was nuts every time Kobashi was in there and you could tell Kobashi didn’t want to disappoint them! He still throws some nasty chops, and when it came down to it, he also busted out the big moves like the sleeper suplex, the half-nelson, and the always crowd pleasing moonsault press!
It got to the point Misawa had to play heel and hit Kobashi from behind to stop his momentum at one point, which got a good round of boos from the crowd! The final stretch saw Misawa and Akiyama do their best to put down Kobashi, but the Tiger Driver, running elbow and Emerald Frosion couldn’t do it! Misawa had to give Kobashi a sick looking Emerald Frosion off the top rope to finally put away Kobashi, and this totally hushed the crowd as they really wanted to see their hero get the win here.
Unlike previous Budokan shows though, the crowd didn’t leave immediately after the main event, but rather stuck around cheer on Kobashi for his efforts (even chanting “Kobashi” over Misawa’s theme!) and only when he disappeared through the entrance curtain did the crowd disperse.
Kobashi is definitely still on form here, and didn’t look all that winded at the end of it. Will be interesting to see how the next chapter in Kobashi’s career progresses now with the rise of the new blood like Marufuji and Morishima. But make no doubt about it, KOBASHI IS BACK!!!Match Rating: ****