Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #4

1. Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (10/21/97) – 9
2. Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (6/12/98) – 8
3. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa (10/23/99) – 6
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Vader (2/27/00) – 7

The first match presented on disc four is what turned me on to Japanese wrestling in the first place. That would be the head-dropping, bone-rattling, chest-caving stiffness of Kobashi and Misawa. The match started furiously with a brief exchange of blows followed by a neck-breaking half-nelson suplex from Kobashi. Out on the floor, more blows are exchanged and there’s another sick half-nelson suplex. Powerbombs and tiger suplexes were the norm in this match. Misawa’s suplexes were bone-rattling with him wearing out Kobashi and scoring some close, close falls. The chops from both men were so stiff, my chest was hurting from watching them (or maybe it was heartburn). These two dumped each other’s head into the mat so hard so many times, I’m surprised they remembered where they were part of the time. There was a spot where the hit each other with lariats at the same time and both sold it like they were dead. Later in the match, Kobashi powerbombed Misawa into the turnbuckles and, on the close-up afterwards, you could see the anguish and exhaustion on Misawa’s face. Misawa battled back and eventually got the fall with a powerbomb in a tremendous match that definitley bordered on the “10” range.

Kobashi and Kawada blindy bludgeoned each other in a fantastic match. They started off with some basic mat wrestling, in a change of pace from the previous bouts, with Kawada trying to forcefully insert his elbow to Kobashi’s ribs. Afterwards, they serve up some stiff chops. There was roughly no brawling on the outside, which is where most of the neck-breaking moves happen in some of these matches. Speaking of which, Kawada offered up his share of half-nelson suplexes. Kobashi brought the physicality in the form of his trademark chest and neck chops. Kobashi kneed Kawada in the gut so hard on one exchange that Kawada legitamitley couldn’t move. Kawada’s kicks were on the money, with Kobashi shrugged off at least half of them. Kawada did try at one point to literally unscrew Kobashi’s torso in a harsh-looking submission hold. Kobashi fought back, though, and won with one of the hardest short lariats I’ve ever seen.

The tag match wasn’t a standout by any means but it was still solid. One major problem I had was that once it broke down, the referee didn’t even try to keep order and keep the legal men in the ring. Akiyama and Ogawa started it off but then each man tagged out and Kobashi and Misawa brought the heat. Misawa broke out a sick dive in which him and Kobashi both went hard into the rail. Ogawa looked like a twig compared to the other three men but definitely held is own and he managed to out-quick his opponents for the most part. Kobashi and Akiyama pulled off a nice double powerbomb. The finish of it saw Kobashi execute an upside-down Death Valley Driver and got the pin for him and Akiyama to win the tag titles. Finally, the bout against Vader was damn stiff as it seemed like Vader didn’t pull anything, especially when he was working over Kobashi’s already injured ribs with unprotected punches. He damaged Kobashi’s ribs even more with numerous Vader bombs in the corner. Kobashi was able to counter Vader’s strength and bulk by hitting some hard German suplexes. Just as it looked like Vader was going to win, Kobashi fought back and got in a hard lariat for the win.

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