Sunday, September 14, 2008

Takeshi Morishima vs. Kensuke Sasaki – (NOAH 9/6/08) – 7

Kensuke rushes Morishima to start but Takeshi blasts him and backs him into the corner. Kensuke fights back leading to a climax-inducing strike exchange, followed by a testing of their respective clotheslines which sees both big men go down. Tie-up in the center of the ring next, they seem relatively parallel strength-wise, but veteran Sasaki hooks a side headlock with his meaty arms and grinds it out controlling his silken haired opponent. Camera shows a man in the crowd, appears to be Masa Saito but I could be wrong. Mori gets Sasaki downed in the corner and drills him with his flying ass spot—I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that one, especially if Mori had ate some pickled herring pre-show. Holy shit, Mori does a magnificent fat boy suicide dive and just looks purely kamikaze as he plunges out onto Sasaki and wipes out, bouncing off a nearby table in the process. Wait, Mori just did some Muta shit? A cartwheel handspring clothesline in the corner? Phenomenal. Followed by a top rope missle dropkick? I’m loving Mori thus far, I hope he ends up in ECW and fueds with Matt Hardy and/or Finlay for the rest of the year. Or Smackdown!, and wrestles Festus for a thousand times for our enjoyment.

Now they’re going old school, working a sequence on the ramp like Chono and Muta used to do; Mori comes running but Sasaki blocks a clothesline and gives Mori a reverse neckbreaker on the ramp. Then, Sasaki bounds off the ropes and does a low, flying clothesline to the back of a downed Mori’s head/neck—brutal! Attempting a suplex on the ramp, fighting for it, and finally Sasaki pulls it off, and then falls back into the ring exhausted. Mori barely makes it in before the twenty count, Sasaki capitalizes with a quick pin but no dice, so he stands Mori up and hits him with a barrage of hammering shots to the chest and back simultaneously. Sasaki locks in a submission, only the second thus far and we’re nearly ten minutes in, a front-face lock deal that zaps Mori’s strength and resolve even more. Sasaki trying desperately to powerbomb his larger opponent, but Takeshi reversed it and then falls backwards, splatting Kensuke with a banzai drop that’d make Yokozuna proud.

Out on the apron, Mori is trying to dump Sasaki off, Kensuke bails on that scary shit and drops to the floor, trying to hook Mori from below in efforts to powerbomb him off the apron onto the floor. Classic Mori, he blocks this attempt by simply dropping all of his weight onto Sasaki’s exposed face/neck, sandwiching him between the hard ring apron and Mori’s sheer girth. Mori’s going nuts, removing the padding from the floor and executing a sloppily done DDT on the concrete. Kensuke rolls back into the ring after a dazed sell only to have gigantic Mori stand on his chest. Wow, Takeshi hooks in a cobra clutch and bends Sasaki back over his knee. Mori is bleeding from the nose here as he bodyslams Kensuke. Mori goes up top but Sasaki cuts him off, and I’ll be damned, executes a frankensteiner from the top buckle! Sasaki back up top, hits a flying bulldog on Mori, then goes up yet again, this time doing a flying clothesline nearly across the length of the whole damn ring in a wild spot. Sasaki does a judo throw and I’m in heaven. Kensuke goes to the well too many times, getting caught up top and Morishima does a brainbuster off the buckles.

Mori shakes the hair from his eyes and runs, kicking Sasaki right in the face, Kensuke answers back with a stiff lariat, but Mori just scoops him up and dumps him hard with a ura-nage. Mori going for his backdrop suplex for the first time but Sasaki gets the ropes. Mori with a hard bodyslam, goes up top, presumably for a moonsault, but Kensuke hops up and hits a back suplex off the buckles. Sasaki hits three more back suplexes in the ring and argues with the ref about the count. A stiff barrage of lariats in the corner, then Sasaki bounds off the ropes for a running one dropping Mori in his black boots. Sasaki calling for something patented, hoists Mori up and executes what looked to me like a Goldberg “Jackhammer” that gets a crowd reaction and very close nearfall. More lariat fun, Sasaki hits Mori with one then hits the ropes for a second but Mori surprises all by busting out one of his own stopping Kensuke’s momentum dead in its tracks. Morishima hits a huge German suplex, then goes up top where he drops a big double stomp square onto Kensuke’s chest.

Mid-ring strike exchange, very AJPW in ’94, with each guy killing the other with super stiff lariats. Mori gets control of the back, but Sasaki runs backward ramming him into the corner to break the hold. Mori with another bodyslam and he’s back up top, goes for a moonsault but Sasaki escaped. Kensuke executes his finisher, the Northern Lights Bomb, originated by his wife Akira Hokuto, but popularized stateside by Al Snow’s “Snow Plow.” And that’s it, Sasaki is the first guy to hold all three major Japanese heavyweight championships. I would have liked to seen Mori kept a bit stronger, tease him winning a bit more, maybe thrown in a couple more big sections to make this a real memorable match, but for what it was this was quite good. It had a couple of big “holy shit” moments and solid stuff throughout—just not an “epic”-level NOAH main event.

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