NOAH "Di Colosseo" on 9/10/04
review by PdW2kX
GHC Tag Titles Match: Yoshinari Ogawa and Mitsuharu Misawa (C) vs. Masao Inoue and Akitoshi Saito
Both teams try to get into each other's heads a bit, but Inoue and Saito aren't playing around, and their normally stiff shots are turned up tenfold. Misawa and Ogawa then try to out-stiff the two big men, and when that only works to a certain extent, fall back on some double team moves. After Saito and Inoue basically run roughshod over the Tag Champs, Saito lifts up the outside mats and Ogawa is obliterated with a Piledriver onto the outside floor. Both teams then spend plenty of time scoring some key nearfalls, with Inoue and Saito nailing a vicious powerbomb/flying lariat combo, while Misawa and Ogawa hit a Double Tiger Driver. Yoshinari ends up with the final fall as he gets in a backdrop hold at 30:44.
Analysis: A very good, entertaining match highlighted by lots of team-on-team interaction. With any good Tag Title Defense, all four men came out strong, but both teams hammered home the fact that teamwork was key, and the match flowed from there. The story, although basic, was a tried-and-true classic, and well-defined, while the stable flow and various segments helped smooth over some rough edges. The match showed many good aspects of each wrestler, namely Misawa being a good "save friend from danger" guy, Ogawa being a good "slightly cocky but still determined" guy, and, finally, Saito and Inoue showing off some very nice diversity and unison. While a handful of their old errors still shined through, such as Misawa/Ogawa relying too heavily on the basic structure they established as a team long ago and Saito/Inoue being a bit bland character-wise, the match still impressed and entertained to a very nice degree. ***½
Makoto Hashi and Takeshi Rikio vs. Go Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama
Go and Jun start out big, with Go hitting a diving plash to Rikio to the outside, and Jun faking out Makoto only to slap the taste out of his mouth. Rikio and Jun then tangle up, with both showing mutual respect to one another by not hitting each other when one gets the other caught up in the ropes, but, of course, Jun has no such respect for Go, and slaps him again after deciding to not hit Rikio. Hashi is quickly tagged in, and nails an absurd amount of offense, only for Jun to stand there and take it, then kill Hashi with more fierce slaps. From there, the general consensus is a few false finishes, Shiozaki getting beaten up only to be saved by Akiyama, and more Akiyama/Hashi animosity. Rikio eventually scores the big pin with a big powerbomb at 17:16 on Shiozaki as Makoto holds Akiyama at bay.
Analysis: Easily on par with the last match, this played to perfection the "veteran with rookie against veteran with rookie" story. Plus, the animosity and chemistry between Makoto Hashi and Jun Akiyama really lit up the screen. All four brought their A-Game, and, realistically, I couldn't expect much more from what I saw. Although the match was 80% character driven, the wrestling was solid throughout and made a great package. ***½
Global Honored Crown Heavyweight Championship Match: Kenta Kobashi (c) vs. Akira Taue
As an added treat, a large chunk of Kobashi/Taue 7/24/96 is put in to further hype the eagerly anticipated main event. It's not a "tribute" video, more like the last 15 minutes or so of the match itself. That said, it doesn't exactly get you pumped up, since it's the tail-end of a match, and thus has no build, but it's a welcome treat and a nice blast from the past.
Taue begins with a little showing off, hitting some of his key offense and even a key Kobashi move (the spinning neck chop), and then hits an absurdly sweet dive through the ropes into the big Kenta. Kobashi gets his first advantage with a flying shoulder block and a flying splash over the ropes onto Taue. Kobashi nails a very good chain combo: first he hits his "knees-to-the-gut after irish whip" routine, then follows it up with a Side Russian Leg Sweep, combos that into a Ground Octopus Hold, and then latches on a headlock. Taue responds by falling back on the one Kobashi weakness everyone knows about: Kenta's knees. To that effect, Taue soon hits a combo himself, with first a Dragon Screw, followed up with a Single Leg Crab, and then an STF. Taue hits a knee crusher soon after, and then what looks to be the kneeling version of the Figure Four Leg Lock. Even after countering with a front choke, Kobashi is soon served up a Nodawa Atoshi onto the ramp. In one of the blow-away spots of the match, Taue hits the Ore Ga Taue off the ring apron! This sets up Kobashi repeatedly finding a way to kick out of Taue's major offense, with Taue only occasionally losing his cool. But after failing to put Kobashi away with the Chichibu Cement, Taue is never really the same, and grows agitated, leading to Kobashi capitalizing and soon murdering Taue with the Half Nelson Suplex. After a Burning Lariat gets 2¾, Kobashi hits the Wrist Clutch Burning Hammer, which annihilates Taue, and picks up the win at 28:05. Post-match, both men shake hands.
Analysis: A very good story and match, highlighted by several key story segments that each played out well: first they both tried to out-do each other in terms of who was the better Submissionist, then Kobashi's "burning spirit" prevented Taue from winning even when Taue was very close to, and, finally, Kobashi taking his one slim advantage and busting out the one move that would guarantee victory. While the story wasn't exactly perfect, it was very entertaining, even if it seemed very basic at first. Both men found a very good pace all considered, and their execution was pretty spot-on. Both men didn't full-out obliterate or wear down each other, but yet made a convincing, appealing mix of solid mat work and trademark stiffness. Not the most dramatic/intense match I've ever seen, but on par with everything before it, and a very good showing by both men. ***½
Final Thoughts: Going into the event, I expected both a lot and very little, since it's only three matches, but also three matches featuring top NOAH talent. That said, I can't imagine a better way of attracting potential NOAH fans than taking out the three best matches of a show, putting it on TV, and splicing in interview segments and clips of previous matches. Essentially, that's what this is. And the matches themselves are good…very good. All three ended up excelling, and could really attract fans new to the product. But for fans already familiar with NOAH, it'll boil down to this: it's three very good matches, but, in the end, it's only three matches. That said, it's a good, quick way to get a NOAH fix, but will likely leave the jaded fan and even the newcomer craving more. For the newcomer, that's usually a good thing, but for the experienced NOAH fan, one might want to track the entire show down. While the overall rating would be ***½ by default, I can't help but detract a forth of a point due to longevity issues.
Still, this "Di Colosseo" taping, featuring some big names and three great matches, excels where needed to and usually makes up for any issues arising from its brevity, earning it ***¼
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