NOAH Di Colosseo on 3/1/03
review by Ape Boy

As a new change of pace, I will not be doing a review of every match on the card. Fuck that. Not only does just about every other reviewer in the IWC do that, I really don’t want to see all of these fucking matches all over again. What I will do is give a skeleton review of the shows, what happened, who wins, and then get in-depth with the GOOD shit, which I will call my “Featured Matches”.

Every column, I’ll be giving a glance over the whole show and then giving you the skinny on the specific matches that I bought the tape for, and ultimately, why you should have it in your collection, as well.

This will help the readers, as not only does it POSSIBLY make for shorter columns, but it lets you know which are the minor matches and which ones you should really focus on.

As an added bonus, I’ll also describe the signature moves used in parenthesis, because while I know next to every gimmick name for most moves, I highly doubt anyone else does.

Finally, a warning to everyone: If you don’t like capital letters, DO NOT read these reviews. Not only do the Japs use them as part of their gimmick, I LOVE to use them to emphasize things. Don’t like it? Touch shit.
So, without any further intro, let’s kick this bitch off.

Some quick background here for you:

NOAH is the result of group of talent splitting away from All Japan Pro Wrestling around 2000, key among them being Japanese legend, Mitsuhara Misawa. Misawa brought with him Akira Taue, Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama, and a rather large chunk of AJPW’s most talented wrestlers.

Along with all the wrestlers, Misawa took AJPW’s sponsors and television time slot, instantly making NOAH one of the biggest players in the Japanese wrestling scene and pretty much crippling AJPW. Fast forward to March of 2003.

Misawa is now a two time NOAH Global Honored Crown Heavyweight Champion, as well as the current title-holder, beginning his second reign after taking the strap from Yoshihiro Takayama in September of ’02. NOAH is coming to the final show of the Navigate for Evolution tour, and by God, the tour-ending main event is a TRULY that: an event.

Taking place at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo, 16,700 fans (making this a “Super No Vacancy” show) crammed themselves into place to see Misawa vs. Kobashi XVI.

Over the previous thirteen years, Mitsuhara Misawa and Kenta Kobashi faced each other in fifteen matches, almost every single one of them being a sure Match of the Year front-runner. Five of those epic fifteen matches were for a major championship belt, and every single time, the outcome was the same: Misawa wins.

Now, almost thirteen years to the day from their first match, Misawa and Kobashi are facing off for the sixteenth time, sixth time for a title, and the sold-out Budokan is anxious to see whether or not Kobashi can FINALLY get over the hump and beat his greatest rival for a belt, or if Misawa will continue his reign of dominance over his opponent and the Japanese wrestling scene.

… But before we get to that, we’ve got to go through some other shit first. Trust me, though, it’ll be worth it.

Match #1
Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata

As per Japanese wrestling show tradition, they have an elaborate laser light show, which kicks the ass of any pyro the WWE could hope to put on.

After all that build-up, the first match out of the gate is this abortion of a match, and I’m certainly am using the word “abortion” lightly, as the average age of the participant in this match is 127.

Every single wrestler featured here was a prisoner in the Concentration Camps.

… of World War ONE.

From what I understand, NOAH has a group of old timers (emphasis on “OLD”) they use on their shows as the curtain jerker.

I guess I understand the move. It protects current talent from having to open the show and be bottom of the card, as well as it pays respects to some of the vets who built the industry.

On the other side, IT FUCKING SUCKS.

The single solitary highspot of this match is that Mitsuo Momota uses the theme song from Rocky as his intro music.
I’ve also noticed that, for some reason, Rusher Kimura comes to the ring wearing a bright yellow chefs apron, no doubt saying “Kiss the Iron Chef” in Japanese on the front.

He even tosses it into the crowd and some lucky fan orgasms at catching it. Problem is that NOBODY close to him even went for it.

When you order this tape, like I KNOW you will after me suggesting it, skip this match.

If you don’t, I’m sorry you had to sit through that.

Good shit is on the way, trust me.

Winners: Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota when Momota uses a Backslide on Kawabata in 8:47

Gotta give it to the Japanese fans, though: They cheered and gave their respects to the veterans. If this match had occurred in America, the fans would’ve shat on it.

Literally. They all would’ve jumped the railing, dropped their trousers, and defecated in the ring.

… and then the IWC would label it a “Death Match” of some sorts.

Just for historical note, this match ended up being the final match of Rusher Kimura’s career. After battling ailments for a year after this show, he would officially hang up the tights and call it quits.

During his career, Rusher gained victories over people the likes of Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, and ANDRE THE FUCKING GIANT, which, while impressive, shows you just how fucking old this guy really was.

Match #2
Akira Taue, Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan vs. Takuma Sano, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kotaro Suzuki

Kotaro Suzuki is one of the better Junior wrestlers in the fed, but he and his team is NO match for their opponents.
Modest and Morgan have been Excellence Inc. in NOAH for a good time, and though I’m not a huge fan of Morgan, Modest is the fucking MAN with his mannerisms.

Taue is a legit Jap legend, though only for his part in the Holy Demon Army (with Toshiaki Kawada) and for matches he’s had with Misawa, Kobashi, and the ilk.

I’ve never really gotten the big deal with Taue, as he looks like an overgrown Japanese Nicholai Volkoff and does the Nodowa Otoshi (Chokeslam) a LOT.

Still, his theme music embodies the Japanese infatuation with using power metal for their entrances.
Spots to look for:

- Modest & Morgan’s “Golden Gate Spin” (double team reverse spinning neckbreaker)
- Kikuchi’s “Zero Kick” (flying leg lariat)
- Suzuki’s “Flying Octopus” (flying headscissors armbar)
- Modest’s “Thumbs Up” (gives the crowd a thumbs up)

… What? It’s fucking FUNNY. Especially the look on his face.

Modest cements his spot as one of the bigger Gaijins (foreigners) in NOAH by winning the fall in this match.

Winners: Taue, Modest & Morgan after Modest hits the Reality Check (Air Raid Crash/Kryptonite Krunch) on Suzuki in 15:46

Definitely a skipable match, but not offensive by any means, and good enough for a watch if it’s your first time through the tape.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again, though.


Match #3
Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi

This match here is the second best reason to buy this tape. Marufuji and KENTA are one of my favorite tag teams going today, as well as two of the best Junior Heavyweights in all of Japan, both holding championships singularly AND as a team.

TheMikeSays has been introducing himself to MarKen over the last month or so and he is falling in love with the team, as well.

Then again, Marufuji is pretty sexy, and we ALL know TMS prefers sausage to taco, if you know what I mean.
Kanemaru is no slouch, though, as he is also a multiple time Jr. Heavy Champ in NOAH, and a damn good wrestler to boot. Kanemaru faces off with Jushin “Thunder” Liger on another NOAH show I will be reviewing in the near future in a match Meltzer gave ****1/2.

Hashi, well, he’s there. He’s a decent enough wrestler, but definitely mid-card.

Either way, he’s got three cruiser studs in this match with them, and he doesn’t hold them down by any means.
Marufuji is pretty damn over, even though Kanemaru is the current GHC Junior Heavyweight champ at the time and the feud between the two has been building.

KENTA starts things off with Kanemaru and these two IMMEDIATELY begin beating the living FUCK out of each other.

Within the first TWENTY SECONDS, KENTA belts Kanemaru with a high kick, the two square off with elbows, KENTA hits a vicious Rolling Sabot (spinning back kick) to the gut, Marufuji cuts off the interfering Hashi by jumping off the back of the bent over Kanemaru and hitting him with a flying leg lariat, then MarKen perform simultaneous top rope dives, with Marufuji hitting the Swandive Pescado on Hashi outside the ring and KENTA hitting the Springboard Missile Dropkick to Kanemaru inside the ring.

Then, just for shits, KENTA DROPS Kanemaru with a Brainbuster, which gets the crowd MARKING OUT to the two-count.

KENTA’s not through yet, as he goes straight for his finishing move, a brutal six hit combo involving spinning neck chops, an axe kick to the head, and his finisher, the Busaiku Knee (Diving Single Knee Press to the Chest).
As he bounces off the ropes for the Busaiku, though, Kanemaru gives him the first LARIAT-OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH of the night, to close out this fucking HOT opening sequence of the match.
Honestly, I rewound this part and watched it multiple times, because they pulled it off so damn fast and it looked so incredibly awesome. You’ll probably do the same.

Kanemaru tags in Hashi. He and KENTA start slapping the shit out of each other, with Hashi nearly knocking KENTA out. KENTA comes back with a trio of HIGH KICK-AH’s that have Hashi reeling, and allows KENTA to tag in his partner.

Naomichi takes control of Hashi, eventually hitting a stiff superkick in the corner. Hashi comes back, chopping away at Marufuji, before hitting a pair of Coconut Crunchers (standing headbutts) and tagging in Kanemaru.
The champ tosses Marufuji off the ropes only to have it reversed into a high dropkick. KENTA goes straight into a few front kicks, followed by a couple roundhouses, which Kanemaru tries to shrug off.

This dude nuts-up and takes these obviously brutal kicks like a fucking MAN, and even gets the advantage with a bitch-slap and a couple of elbows, until KENTA says “Fuck that” and hits Kanemura with three more legit stiff kicks, dropping him flat on his ass with a brutal roundhouse to the dome.

That last one made me cringe and KENTA poses for the camera, giving Kanemaru some time to push his gray matter back in through his ear.

KENTA picks the dazed Kanemaru up, slams him, and tags in Marufuji, allowing him to his beautiful Slingshot Elbow. Marufuji gets Kanemaru some breath with a chinlock, followed by a krevat, into a falling neckbreaker.
Kanemaru must owe Marufuji and KENTA some yen, as Naomichi locks him in a Camel Clutch, and calls in KENTA to deliver some stiff front kicks to his unprotected face.

Another cringe moment, as KENTA is one of the hardest kickers in the entire business.

KENTA officially tags in, but has a sleeperhold countered into a hardcore Backdrop Driver, dumping him on his neck. KENTA tries to roll to the apron to recover, but Hashi is there to pick him, giving a Coconut Cruncher to the back of his head, then drop with a great looking Apron Drop Reverse DDT that has KENTA in trouble.
Kanemaru and Hashi set KENTA up with his head hanging over the apron, allowing Kanemaru to hit a Slingshot Guillotine from inside the ring all the way to the outside and across the back of KENTA’s damaged head.

As revenge for all those kicks to the grill, Kanemaru lifts KENTA off the ground, rolls him onto the entrance ramp, and then gives him a Diving Body Slam off the ramp onto the concrete with a damn sickening thud.

A few minutes later, KENTA is trying to comeback against Hashi in ring, but is quickly shut down by a quartet of Mongolian Chops. A diving headbutt gets a two for Hashi, when he tags in Kanemaru.

Kanemaru quickly ties KENTA to the Tree of Woe and gets more revenge for being hit in the face. Kanemaru runs back to the corner and nails a harsh looking flying dropkick to KENTA’s face, followed by Hashi running back and hitting KENTA with a diving headbutt to his fucking CHIN. The moves still only get a two-count, though, which gets the crowd clapping in approval.

Hashi tags in and starts teeing off on KENTA with elbows, while Kanemaru stops a comeback dead with a couple boots to the head. Hashi BITCH smacks KENTA with an echoing slap, which gets KENTA angry enough to chop the shit out of Hashi’s neck and drive home a STIFF enzuigiri.

Marufuji tags in, laces Hashi’s fingers, jumps to the top, dropkicks an invading Kanemaru, and arm drags Hashi, all in one quick motion. A Diving Swift Elbow follows, as Maru ties Hashi to the Tree of Woe, and goes for his incredible corner to corner Terminator, but this is cut off but Kanemaru.

Kanemaru pulls Marufuji down, but Maru gives him a superkick on the outside, and goes for his Shiranui (Sliced Bread #2. Marufuji innovated the move.), but Kanemura pushes him into the railing, then drops the Guillotine to the back of Maru’s head.

Marufuji is rolled back into the ring and attempts to fight off Hashi with some elbows, but runs right into Hashi’s Gigas DDT (body slam into reverse DDT). Hashi tags out to Kanemaru, who has his Irish Whip reversed, but swings his legs through the ropes.

Kanemaru catches Marufuji with a front kick coming in, but Maru takes him down with a drop toe hold, followed by a sliding dropkick to the head. Marufuji tags in KENTA who hits a quick, classic powerslam on Kanemaru.
KENTA maintains control, hits a beautiful Frankensteiner, then transitions smoothly into a deep Cross Arm Bar. This is a legitimate finish and the crowd is marking, as Marufuji prevents the save by booting Hashi in the head. Kanemaru finally makes it to the ropes, but catches a roundhouse to the gut and an enzuigiri to the head for his troubles, followed by a Fisherman’s Suplex by KENTA for a two.

KENTA goes up top for a top rope flying hurricanrana, but has that countered by a hard powerbomb from Kanemaru. Kanemaru quickly goes up top for a great looking moonsault, which nets a two count.
Kanemaru goes in for the kill, as he climbs the second rope and SPIKES KENTA on his head with his Deep Impact finisher (diving DDT from the second rope). KENTA kicks out at the last possible moment from the champs finishing move, and the crowd gasps in surprise, followed by applause.

Kanemaru goes for one of his vicious Brainbusters, when KENTA uses his last bits of strength to push Kanemaru off and nail him with his Busaiku Knee finisher out of nowhere.

Perfect example of Japanese “Royal Road” psychology right there, as the crowd erupts.
Both men sell the effects of the finishers, before rolling over and tagging in their partners. Hashi swats away a dropkick, Marufuji counters a lariat and then comes away with a glancing Backflip Kick to Hashi’s head.

This stuns Hashi enough, though, for Marufuji to climb to the top and dive at Hashi with a FUCKING STIFF Missile Dropkick to the top of his head, while Hashi was still kneeling. Kanemaru makes the save, but KENTA disposes of him quickly.

Marufuji stiffs Hashi AGAIN with the superkick. Hashi has decided he’s tired of getting stiffed now, and comes back with the second LARIAT-OOOHHHHHHH of the night.

Hashi immediately hits Marufuji with his head-dropping finisher, the Gory Thunder (Wrist Clutch Fisherman’s Northern Lights Bomb). Very late kickout by Marufuji has the Jap crowd excited, and the match has really been heating up again these last two-three minutes.

Hashi goes up top and nails the Diving Headbutt, another of his finishers, but KENTA makes the save at two, and the crowd is still loud. Kanemaru ejects KENTA, while Hashi puts Marufuji up top, doing for an Avalanche Back Suplex.

With the crowd at their peak, Marufuji flips out of it, stuns Hashi with ANOTHER superkick to the head, and hooks him for the Shiranui. Hashi counters the Shiranui with a Gigas DDT attempt, but Marufuji fights out, captures Hashi’s arm, and rolls him up in a nice package for the desperation three crowd, and the crowd couldn’t be happier.

Winners: KENTA & Marufuji when Marufuji uses a modified Standing La Magistral on Hashi in 16:35

Fucking AWESOME match, hence it being one of my Featured Matches of the show.

If I were doing ratings, I’d probably give this match somewhere in the high ***- low **** range, and if it weren’t for Kobashi/Misawa, this would’ve been the match of the show.

As a side note, did you know that Pay-Per-Views in Japan have commercials?

Well, they do, and what’s more, this one is an American commercial for the GT 88 scratch remover, with Japanese dubbing.

Instantly the greatest commercial I have ever seen.

… that is until the VERY NEXT COMMERCIAL, when they’re advertising the play “Annie”, done with Japanese kids.

You haven’t heard “Hard Knock Life” until you’ve heard it in JAPANESE!!!

They come back from commercial with backstage interviews with Misawa and Kobashi.

Seeing as how I don’t know Japanese, I have no idea what the fuck they were saying, besides hearing the words “Kobashi Kenta”, “Misawa Mitsuharu”, and, for whatever reason, “Cinnamon Flavored Churrito”.

Skip this part, unless you know Jap talk and are willing to translate for me, or you want to see the most awesome commercials you’ll ever witness. I’d suggest sticking around for the “Super Dance Battle 2003” one, which also brings the awesome.

Match #4
Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rikio & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Bison Smith, Superstar Steve & IZU

Back to the abbreviated reviews.

They’re coming back from intermission, and have now turned on a couple torches in front of the NOAH signs and added a couple smoke jets to the entrance way. In case you didn’t know, Japanese ring intros SCHOOL most American entrances.

The entrances get progressively better from here throughout the night, as EVERYONE in this match uses some block-rocking 80’s song for their theme music, ranging from Van Halen to Jackyl to the Beastie Boys.
The two Takeshis form the “Wild Two” team, but Daisuke Ikeda is definitely the most popular man on their side of the ring.

Spots to look for:

- Bison Smith hitting the Iron Claw Slam on Takeshi Morishima onto a table.
- Rikio with the third LARIAT-OH of the night, followed quickly by Daisuke Ikeda with the fourth.
- Ikeda kicking Steve’s chin halfway around his head with a HIGH KICK-AH.
- Bison Smith getting his neck shoved through his nose with a Backdrop Driver.
- Ikeda hitting a Flying LARIAT-OH, two more standard LARIAT-OH’s, and one last Short LARIAT-OH, before knocking out Superstar Steve, and bring our LARIAT-OH count for the night to eight. Ikeda calls his LARIAT-OH and all it’s variations the “Dai-Chan Bomber”.

Winners: Morishima, Rikio & Ikeda when Ikeda hit the Dai-Chan Bomber on Steve in 12:39

Definitely skip-worthy. Nothing really of note happened, besides MAYBE the table spot, but that didn’t even really come up good.

Just skip it, it gets you to Misawa/Kobashi twelve minutes quicker.

If you really want the whole show experience though, it’s watchable. It won’t bring you to the brink of suicide.

On an interesting note, even though Rikio did absolutely jack shit throughout this match, Rikio would go on to become the GHC Heavyweight Champion only two years later.

We’re at the halfway mark of the show and coming up next half, though, we’ve got the daddy of all matches in 2003, the ’03 Match of the Year, Misawa vs. Kobashi XVI.

They shot a promotional shot of the two and have a short tag line under the graphic in Japanese, so I’m going to assume it says “Last time, it was PERSONAL. THIS time, it’s for MONEY.”

Still got a little ways to go, though, so let’s give these next matches a quick plowing through, and get to the good stuff.

Match #5
Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa

If you can’t tell these two apart, then you are a fucking moron. The guy with the Japanese name sure as shit isn’t the black guy, you know.

Ogawa is a former GHC Heavyweight Champion, winning it from no-less a credible opponent than Jun Akiyama in a truly stunning upset.

On the other hand, 2 Cold Scorpio reportedly has the biggest dong in the entire wrestling industry.

I’d rate those two attributes just about equal, with the nod probably going to Scorpio and his gi-normous tonsil impaler.

Spots to look for:
- Scorpio taking a DDT on the concrete after a failed pescado.
- Ogawa displaying more chokeholds than a Christian match.
- Ogawa somehow biff rolling out of the way of a Scorpio Arabian Press.
- Ogawa grabbing Scorpio by has man-berries, and smiling rather homo-erotically.
- Scorpio FUCKING UP Ogawa’s face with the Tumbleweed (Phoenix Flipping Legdrop), then hitting two consecutive 450 Splashes.

I guess Ogawa has been feuding with the Gaijin faction of Scorpio, Modest, Morgan, and Bison Smith, as after the match, he sneak attacks Scorpio, and beats off the rest of the group.

…And yes, he still looks like a homo doing it.

Then Scorpio break dances, to the pleasure of absolutely no one.

Winner: Scorpio in 6:20 with the 450 Splash

Should you skip this match? Read the above “high”-spots and you tell me.

The match involved half a dozen moves of utterly gay offense from Ogawa, followed by half a minute of flying from Scorpio.

Plus, I think Ogawa came out of the closet in mid-match, when he began fondling Scorpio’s haggis and brussel sprouts.

If you’re not good with subtlety, then yes, skip the shit out of the match, and be six minutes closer to the Promised Land.

Match #6
Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Masao Inoue

Takayama is probably the most over Japanese big man, holding titles in about eight different federations, both singularly and as a part of Team No Fear. He’s even been a former GHC champion and was defeated by Misawa to kick off Mitsuharu’s current run.

You can tell how popular this guy is, because as soon as his opponent walks out, they start cheering for Takayama, and even singing along with his theme music.

I guess being the only Jap on the planet over six-feet tall has it’s perks.

Spots to look for:
- The “Fast-Forward” button on your remote.

Seriously, not a DAMN thing happened in this match.

The most exciting thing that happened is when Takayama wins and starts yelling at Rikio at ringside in Japanese.
That’s IT.

Winner: Takayama in 7:02 with the Everest German Suplex

Even Takayama’s finisher, the Everest German Suplex, which is normally very nicely done for a big guy, looked like utter shite.

If you haven’t skipped this match already, I pity you, as that’s seven minutes of your life you will NEVER get back.

Match #7
Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Takashi Sugiura

Akiyama is one of the biggest names in NOAH, including a being former GHC champion and disciple of Misawa.
He also created the Exploder, one of the best suplexes ever conceived.

Honda is pretty much a shite mid-carder, who can very rarely be brought to a **** match, as he did versus Kobashi at the end of the next tour.

I don’t know much about Saito or Sugiura, except that the latter has a fecking SWEET Olympic Slam that puts Kurt Angle’s to utter shame.

The opening for this one is uber-confusing, as the entrance for Akiyama hits (Power Metal again), everyone looks to the entryway, and some dude dressed like the albino cousin of Mordecai comes out.

While everyone is cursing the wrestling gods for bringing that guy to Japan, Akiyama sneak attacks Honda from the crowd.

Ummmm, sure. Why not?

Spots to look for:
- Spike Piledriver on Honda on the exposed concrete floor.
- Akiyama and Saito raping the corpse of the newly dead Honda.
- Honda reanimating himself from the dead, and raping Akiyama and Saito TOGETHER in return.
- Zombie Honda hitting Akiyama with a neck-dropping good Dead End German Suplex (High Angle German).
- Saito and Akiyama beating the shit out of Zombie Honda’s knee.
- Sugiura finally recovers after selling a PUNCH for four minutes, in time to save his new undead homeboy.
- A nice double team combo from Saito and Akiyama in Sugiura, followed by the ninth LARIAT-OH of the night from Akiyama, and an Exploder on top of that, just for kicks.
- Sugiura countering a second Exploder attempt with his SWEET Olympic Slam. It’s better than Kurt’s, I’m tell you, people.
- Zombie Honda tagging in and locking Akiyama quickly in the Rolling Olympic Hell of the Undead (Rolling Neck and Arm Vice).

We’ve apparently been misinformed: The brain is NOT the weak-point of zombies, the knee is, as when Akiyama locked in a basic half crab on Honda, the referee heard something crack, and immediately called for the bell.

Wow, the knee. Who would’ve guessed that the unholy undead lose their power when you attack their patella?
This just goes to show that there’s so much about zombie anatomy we still don’t know.

Winners: Akiyama & Saito in 7:31 via TKO on Honda

Certainly skippable, but there are a couple of moves interesting, like Zombie Honda doing the “Curly Runs Around In Circles On The Floor” thing after losing his leg. This was even funnier, though, as it was really slow, his arms were stiffly outstretched, and it looked like he was chasing his own ass in the quest for brains.

Honda of the Damned has to be carried piggy-back from the ring to get him to the locker room and you can visibly see him bite a chunk out of that poor guy’s head.

That’s what you get when you’re stupid enough to volunteer to carry a zombie on our shoulders.

To show how important this show is, NOAH takes the time to show that Zero-1 Gaijin stars Steve Corino, Tom Howard, and Bear are in attendance to watch this epic battle.

Hey, can you blame them, though? If I was in Japan working for the fucking Olympics at this time, I would’ve dropped everything to go see this match.

Speaking of, did I mention it’s up NEXT?


Main Event
Match #8
GHC Heavyweight Championship
Mitsuhara Misawa (c) vs. Kenta Kobashi

This is it, kiddies. No more buildup, only sheer, orgasmic wrestling perfection.

As soon as the lights go out for the entrances, the fans start chanting for both Misawa and Kobashi simultaneously.

The building is fucking ELECTRIC.

To show that the Japs understand drama and crowd building SO MUCH BETTER than the Americans, even the simple ANNOUNCEMENT that this is the championship match has it’s own theme music and smoke jets. This adds even more excitement to the already amped crowd.

The crowd chants for BOTH men all throughout their ring entrances, which is about as high a respect the Japanese fans can give, besides absolutely FLOODING the ring with streamers in the respective colors of both wrestlers. It looks like a fucking spider-web in there, and it takes them a good half a minute to clear everything out.

After that, we are under way.

The ref calls for a clean break after a lockup, but Kobashi goes for a Rolling Neck Chop that looked like it could kill. Misawa avoids it, and the tone for the match is set. Both met start laying in the strikes, stiff neck shops from Kobashi, tight elbows from Misawa, and they would not let up on them for the entirety of this match.

An indy-standoff gets a round of applause from the crowd and Misawa starts to go to work on Kobashi’s Lariat arm, already introducing some great psychology into the match. If Kobashi’s Lariat arm is weakened, than his Lariat finisher will be weakened as well, and Misawa has a better chance of surviving it.

Kobashi breaks out of the arm traps, only to suffer from the first of sure-to-be-MANY head bumps of the match, a vicious Backdrop Driver from Misawa, and when I say “vicious”, I fucking mean it. Kobashi lands ALL on the top of his head.

Kenta is knocked goofy and goes to the outside for some rest, but his most heated rival will give him NONE, as Misawa goes to the top rope and performs a Diving Elbow Strike to the standing Kobashi’s head. Misawa jumps onto the apron and immediately follows it up with a Flipping Tiger Drop (Front Flip Senton), leaving Kobashi laid out on the concrete.

Misawa rolls him in the ring, hits a great looking Diving Missile Dropkick and follows it up by going to the opposite ropes and hitting a Tiger Body Press (Frog Splash) for a deuce.

Remember, this is a man north of 40-years-old, and he’s already done FOUR dives off the top ropes and the apron in less than five minutes.

Misawa continues his previous arm work by locking on a Reverse Jujigatame (Cross Arm Bar), forcing Kobashi to grab the ropes. Misawa doesn’t let up, continuing with an arm wringer and some elbows. Kobashi leads him to the corner, where he lays in an ECHOING chop, which Misawa didn’t appreciate much, as exampled by an elbow that dropped Kobashi on his ass.

Kobashi counters back with a trio of neck chops, but has the Diving Shoulder Block countered by another elbow to the head, this time in mid-air. Kobashi reverses a whip into the corner and goes for a patented Sleeper Suplex (a Suplex done with the opponent locked in a Sleeper Hold), but Misawa rolls out and dropkicks him in the arm, causing Kobashi to roll to the outside.

Misawa fakes out Kobashi with an attempted dive, but Kobashi was ready for him, so when Misawa actually did dive, Kenta rammed him neck and throat first into the railing.

This is where Kenta’s main psychology strand comes into play: ALL of his main finishing moves attack the neck, so throughout the match, Kobashi mainly attacks the neck and the upper back. The Burning Lariat, the Half-Nelson Suplex, the Sleeper Suplex, the Burning Brainbuster, and, most devastating among them, the Burning Hammer, ALL attack the neck. What’s more, in big match situations where one finisher normally won’t do it, he’ll use some of the minor neck finishes to set up the Big Poppa among finishing moves, his Burning Hammer.

Kenta has protected the Hammer well, only pulling it out for the most important of matches, and what’s more, when he hits it, there is NO coming back: You are fucking DEAD. With all the neck work he does in his matches, though, the Hammer remains perfectly believable as a one-hit kill, besides the fact that it would be illegal to do to someone on the street.

To back-up my point, Kobashi drops a pair of legdrops on Mitsuharu’s neck across the guardrail, the drops MISAWA with a Half-Nelson Suplex on the damn concrete, for the second head bump of the match.
At this point, in my professional medical opinion, both men should be clinically dead.

Misawa has blood trailing from his chin already, and Kobashi makes it worse by driving the point of his elbow into the back of Misawa’s head across the turnbuckle, before busting out the classic Gourdbuster (Front Falling Suplex) and a krevat to continue the neck work.

Misawa breaks free, and the two start trading stiff chops and elbows, when Kobashi catches Misawa with a surprise Rolling Sabot, then drops him with a legdrop to the back of the head.

Both men are sweating buckets, as Kobashi throws Misawa onto the entry-ramp, which is DANGEROUS territory for both of these men. Kenta maintains the advantage with a DDT on the wooden ramp, before tossing him back in the ring. Kobashi keeps momentum going with some harsh neck chops in the corner.

Misawa tries to fight back, but Kenta counters a monkey flip by driving his opponent face first into the turnbuckle, then following right up with a second Half-Nelson Suplex, and the third head bump of the match. Misawa tries to shake off the effects quickly, so Kobashi stands him up and gives him a THIRD, making it four head bumps, and then foregoing the pin to lock in a Body Scissors Full Nelson.

I like this here, as he knows the Half-Nelson Suplex isn’t enough to finish Misawa in one of these HUGE title matches, so he skips the pin, and goes right back to work with the neck submissions. GREAT psychology, and the crowd even starts chanting Misawa’s name in support.

Kenta stands him up and just starts chipping AWAY at Misawa’s neck, and if you’ve seen Kobashi’s neck chops, you KNOW how bad those are. Misawa catches his second wind, though, and challenges Kenta with some elbows, so Kobashi gives him a Backdrop Driver, the fifth head-bump of the match.

Kenta goes for another one, but Misawa elbows his way out of it. Kobashi tries again, but again Misawa stops him, this time hitting a stiff Release German Suplex [6]. Kenta shrugs off the German, so Misawa obliges him with a Release Tiger Suplex [7]. The Burning Desire inside Kenta won’t let him lose control, so he powers his way up from the Tiger, yelling at Misawa. Misawa answers his challenge with a Rolling Elbow, Kenta comes back with a Rolling Neck Chop, but Misawa FINALLY lays him out with a second Rolling Elbow.

Misawa goes for the Tiger Suplex ’85 (Neck and Arm Back Suplex), but Kobashi chops out. Misawa goes for the Tiger Driver (Double Underhook Sitout Powerbomb), but Kobashi resists, so Mitsuharu lays in some harsh elbows, followed by a Rolling Legdrop to the back of Kenta’s head. Misawa then scores with the Tiger Driver, but Kenta kicks out.

Misawa waits for Kobashi to recover, then hits a Tiger Suplex ’85, bring the head bumps to eight for the match. The people are now chanting for Kobashi to recover, obviously wanting this match to continue. Misawa hits a second Tiger Driver, getting another close two-count.

Misawa goes for the Emerald Fusion (Side Tombstone Driver, which Samoa Joe also uses for the “Island Driver”. Misawa’s ultimate finisher). Kobashi quickly counters by ramming him into the corner, and hitting a fourth Half-Nelson Suplex [9]. Misawa tries his damndest to shake it off and goes for a Charging Elbow, but Kenta counters, finally hitting a HARSH Sleeper Suplex, for the tenth head-bump of the match.

Both men are slow to recover, when Misawa counters a Lariat in the corner, and goes to the top for Diving Back Elbow. Kenta sees it coming, and gives him the LARIAT-OOOHHHH to the back of the head, first one of this match, tenth one of the night.

There wasn’t much behind it, due to the weakening of Kenta’s arm, so he goes for another. Misawa counters this one with a well placed elbow. Kenta tries again and is met with another elbow. Third time is the charm, though, as he manages a Short LARIAT-OOOHHH [2nd of match-11th of night], for a close two-count and the crowd erupts.
Misawa counters a suplex attempt, landing on the ring apron, the suplexes Kobashi from in the ring onto the wooden entry-ramp. Misawa gets a running start back in the ring, and hits Kenta with the Elbow Suicida (Suicide Dive Elbow Strike) out on the ramp.

Misawa has ill-intentions here, as he goes for the Tiger Driver on the wooden ramp. The crowd is amped right here, as Kenta fights out with chops. Misawa will not be denied, as he lays in the 258th elbow of the match, and, in probably the most brutal spot of the YEAR, gives Kobashi the Tiger Suplex off the ramp and onto the floor.


That brings our head-bump count for the match up to eleven, and the dead body count for the night up to two. Oh, actually, three now, as the announcer subsequently has a heart attack calling the spot. Fans now cheering with massive support for Kobashi, respecting the amount of BALLS it took to even agree to that spot. The referee is adding drama to the match, by laying in the customary 20-count. Miraculously, both men make it in by 19, and in dual miracles, Kobashi kicks out of the pin attempt, getting the fans chanting his name AGAIN.

Kobashi is weakly on his feet, so Misawa follows up with a Tobishiza (Jumping Side Knee Strike to the head), and gets ANOTHER close two count. Misawa pulls Kobashi to his feet, but Kenta fights him off with a Neck Chop. Misawa tries again, but is chopped. On the third attempt, Misawa hits Kobashi in the FACE with a Rolling Back Elbow, then a SECOND one, which sends Kenta reeling off the ropes.

Kobashi bounces back, and Misawa drops him on his dome with the Emerald Fusion, his ultimate finisher, and the twelfth head bump of the match. The fans erupt, KNOWING this is the end of the match, as next to nobody kicks out of the Emerald Fusion.

… But Kobashi does. Someway, somehow, even after being thrown off the MOTHER FUCKING entry ramp, Kenta kicks out of the Emerald Fusion, and the crowd goes absolutely BANANA. I mean, I don’t even know how he managed to do that

Misawa goes for the Tiger Driver ’91 (High Angle Tiger Driver on the neck. His second biggest finisher), but Kobashi will not be denied, and somehow manages to backdrop him out of it. Both men square off and charge at each other, matching Elbow versus LARIAT-OH, ending in a stalemate, so they back up and try it again, with the LARIAT-OH winning out, for the fourth of this match thirteenth of the night.

Kenta is getting his third wind by now, and DUMPS Misawa with the Burning Brainbuster [13], but STILL cannot put away the champ, determined to keep his title, and gaining a Misawa chant in support from the crowd.

By God, though, it’s just not meant to be.

Misawa is no longer able to defend himself, as Kobashi stands him up, racks him across his shoulders, and drops him FOREHEAD FIRST into the mat with the World Famous Burning Hammer.

The crowd counts along with the “1, 2, 3”, and celebrates the new GHC Heavyweight Champion.

Winner and NEW GHC Heavyweight Champion: Kenta Kobashi in 33:28 with the Burning Hammer

For close to thirty-five minutes, these guys had the fans on the edge of their seats, not only excited, but close to hyperventilating for the entirety of this match. Anyone who knows Japanese crowds, knows that they are a quite, calm, and collected breed, reserving the utmost respect for all competitors and holding in their emotions for the big spots, out of respect to the wrestlers.

After this match, though, you’d never be able to tell. I mean, there were women openly CRYING in the stands after Kobashi pulled out the win. I shit you not, a few chicks turned on the waterworks, that’s how emotional the connection was between these two wrestlers and the crowd that night in the Budokan.

After all was said and done, Misawa required stitches for a severe laceration to his head, while Kobashi had to go to the hospital for a nosebleed that would not stop… oh, and for a CRACKED FUCKING EYE SOCKET.
Still, these two made their sixteenth contest a true classic, and Kobashi capped off his comeback with a title victory on the most important of shows, against the most important of opponents, giving the crowd a match for the ages, and left some of them openly WEEPING in public. … Let’s see someone in the fucking WWE do THAT.

End Show

Kenta would go on to hold the Global Honored Crown for EXACTLY two years and five days, having many, many excellent and exciting title defenses, before losing the belt to Takeshi Rikio in March of this year.

Ladies and gents, that does it for the review. Hopefully now you know why EVERYBODY should own the NOAH “Di Colosseo” show from 3/01/03, and you’ll go out and get it, if you don’t already have it.

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