History of the GHC Heavyweight Title
review by Suicidal Youth

Jun Akiyama vs. Mitsuharu Misawa
A good match to open up the tape with, although it's clipped down to about half length. Misawa brings out the stiff elbow strikes right away. They head to the outside, where Akiyama plants his knee into Misawa's neck, and rides Misawa into the guardrail. After that, they pretty much exchange moves and neither one has the advantage for the remainder of the match. Misawa hits a Tiger Driver on the floor, and tries to climb in, but Akiyama drags him down, and hits an Exploder on the floor!! Both men are counted out, but the match restarts, and Misawa wins. ***1/2

Vader vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
An ok match. The interference really killed it for me, as did the finish. Vader has a submission on, and it appears that Takayama tapped, but the ref gave the win to Takayama due to the aforementioned interference. *3/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
A good match to crown the first GHC Heavyweight Champion. I wasn't expecting much, as I hadn't seen much of Takayama yet, but this was pleasantly surprising. Misawa hits most of his usual moves, and Takayama brings some suplexes. Takayama hits a beautiful Everest German Suplex, but Misawa kicks out, so Takayama lands a Tiger Suplex (very nicely timed, as well), but Misawa keeps fighting. In the end, Misawa nails the Rolling Elbow, the
Running Elbow Smash, and he becomes the inaugural GHC Heavyweight Champion with the Emerald Flowsion. ***1/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Akira Taue
Another good match, and historic, considering this was the first defense of the title by Misawa. An incredible spot early on when Misawa takes the Nowoda Otoshi off the ramp onto a table!! Back inside, Taue hits the Dynamic Bomb for a two, and he debuts Ore Ga Taue for another close two count. Misawa lands some Elbows, and he hits the move that won him the title in the first place, the Emerald Flowsion, but he's too dazed to make the pin. He
nails a Running Elbow Smash as Taue gets up, and nails a second Flowsion to take the victory. ***1/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama
A great match, and it holds up today as one of the greatest GHC Heavyweight Title bouts in the title's history. This exceeded their match earlier on the tape big time. This match marks the fifth time they've met in singles action, and so far, Misawa's got Akiyama's number. For the most part, they stay in the ring, except for when Akiyama teased hitting the Exploder off the ramp to the floor. The most incredible spot of the match would be Misawa nailing the Avalanche Tiger Driver(rather sloppy, though), but he doesn't get the pin, so he hits another version from the ground, but that still doesn't get the job done. Akiyama then goes on a roll, hitting two straight Exploders, a Sheerdrop Brainbuster, and a High Angle Exploder that dropped Misawa right on the back of his head. The finish was perfect, IMO. Akiyama had Misawa set up for yet another Exploder, and Misawa desperately reached for the ropes, as he knew that he couldn't withstand another Exploder. However, Akiyama saw an opening, grabbed Misawa's reaching arm, applied the Wrist Clutch, and nailed the Wrist Clutch Exploder for the three count. ****1/2

Jun Akiyama vs. Vader
Going into this, I wasn't so sure it would be very good. Akiyama isn't very big, and Vader is huge, so I thought Akiyama wouldn't stand much of a chance, but I was wrong. Akiyama brought some stiff strikes to make up for him not being able to use the Exploder. He also works over Vader's arm for a bit, which was nice. Vader just pounds the crap out of Jun for most of the match. Akiyama almost loses the match(and use of his limbs) after a HUGE German Suplex, with introduced the top of Akiyama's head into the match. Akiyama is also slammed hard with a Sky High Chokeslam from Vader. To my surprise, Akiyama actually hit the Exploder. In the end, Akiyama retains by making Vader tap to an Armbar. Great to see that armwork come into play for the finish. **3/4

Jun Akiyama vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
This started out very fast, with Akiyama hitting two Exploders early on. He goes for the Wrist Clutch Exploder, but Ogawa rolls into a Small Package, and gets the win. **

Overall: A great tape to introduce NOAH rookies to the early history of this prestigious belt. This compliments the Kobashi GHC Title reign comp nicely.

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