Kenta Kobashi loves a five-star performance. This time, it’s not a six man involving a host of Japanese legends. It’s a straight up tag team match for the All Asia Tag Team Titles with the Gaijin team of Furnas and Kroffat defending the belts against Kenta and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. Shall we have a look at what went down?
It’s impossible to write about this and not instantly zero in on the crowd. The fans are insane, screaming with delight every time the Japanese team shows a hint of fire. The opening sequence sees Kikuchi respond to a Kroffat slap by unleashing a flurry of elbows and the crowd are on their feet for it. By the end, I can only assume they’re all hanging from the ceiling screaming with delight.
After that opening, this settles into a back and forth contest. For the first ten minutes, the teams are trading momentum, with Kobashi and Kikuchi working from underneath, but never being dominated. It’s a set-up that doesn’t change until Kikuchi finds himself being Military Pressed over a barricade onto a table (which, this being Japan, doesn’t break).
From there, the Gaijins take control. Isolating Kikuchi and using their superior size to bully him. Poor Kobashi is left standing on the apron, occasionally darting in to break up a pin or submission before being shepherded back out.
It means that when he finally does get a tag, he’s like a dog being let off the lead on the first day of spring. He throws himself at his opponents, and it sends us into our final act. Both teams are hitting big move after big move, desperate to make the titles there’s. There are Hart Attacks, Doomsday Devices and Frankensteiners. It’s fascinating watching this and remembering that on the other side of the world Hulk Hogan and co were still being treated like superstars.
In the end, Kenta and Kroffat are left in the ring. They work through a fantastic finishing sequence which ends with that famous Kobashi moonsault. At that point, even the commentators are going mental, caught up in the emotion of the moment. The final touch sees Kroffat and Furnas strap the belts on to the Japanese team in a show of respect.
I’m not sure if I’d go the full five-stars on this, but it is definitely in the upper four-star range. It’s fantastic tag-team wrestling. Even as it relies on the classic story of the bullying Gaijin team, it feels fresh and exciting. Something that is even more astounding when you remember it happened over fifteen years ago. Great wrestling is great wrestling no matter what.