Puroresu Pulse, issue 201: Kobashi is done

Section 1- Results

All Japan: Kai retained over Yamato.

Dragon Gate: Hulk & Tozawa won the tag tournament, beating Mochizuki & Yamato in the final. Yamato, Yoshino & Gamma retained the trios titles.

New Japan: Nakamura beat Naito in the final, which shows that I am ALMOST a master prognosticator. Here’s the rest of the round-robin results at Puroresufan. Devitt & Taguchi retained over Ibushi & Omega.

NOAH: Shiozaki retained over Akiyama. Takayama pinned Shiozaki in a tag, which could signal him as the next challenger.

Zero1: Sekimoto won the Fire Festival and became their new singles champion.

Section 2- News

All Together: The supershow has 10 matches and pretty much every wrestler from the big three. There’s a battle royal; juniors 8-man and 10-man tags; a ‘young stars’ 6-man (with Yone for some reason); Makabe & Akitoshi Saito vs Goto & Kea; Nagata, Tenzan, Nishimura & Wataru Inoue (subbing for Kojima) vs Morishima, Akebono, Yoshie & Hama; Sasaki & Akiyama vs Takayama & Omori; Kobashi & Mutoh vs Yano & Iizuka; and the main event is Tanahashi, Shiozaki & Suwama vs Nakamura, Sugiura & Kenzo Suzuki.

Dragon Gate: Doi, Tanizaki & Kzy will challenge for the trios belts on the 2nd. Doi threw darts at a board to determine his partners and got just about the weakest possible in the BW stable…

New Japan: Tanahashi vs Nakamura and Ibushi vs Kushida are set for 9/19 at Kobe World Hall. This is the first time that the IWGP champion defends against the G-1 winner in September without someone else challenging in-between. Kojima is out with an eye injury.


The Longest URL.

Section 4- Media Corner


I got sidetracked from keeping up with current stuff for a few weeks, so let’s catch up.

Togo vs Antonio Honda, DDT January 30th. The complete match this time.

Sekimoto, Okabayashi & Shinobu vs Yoshihito Sasaki, Shinya Ishikawa & Kawakami, Big Japan June 27th.

Yoshihito and Shinobu have hated on each other for a while now. Well, they’re still hating, and we get a really hot finish from it.

Okabayashi & Shinobu vs Yoshihito Sasaki & K. Hashimoto, Big Japan July 25th.

Here is some more of that hate, along with the ever-spunky Hashimoto.

Shingo vs Tozawa, Dragon Gate July 17th.

Since I enjoyed Tozawa on the indy scene more than any Dragon Gate wrestler in years, it’s only logical that I enjoyed this more than any Dragon Gate singles match in MANY years. As in, five or six years. Lots of action, good pacing, they don’t go nuts with the spots, and most of all there’s a sense of urgency.

Sugiura vs Sasaki, NOAH July 23rd.

They hit each other really hard. A lot. That’s pretty much the reason why I got into puro in the first place, so there you go.

Shiozaki vs Akiyama, GHC title, NOAH August 6th.

I clipped out the first 14 minutes or so because they’re boring. An accident forces them to intensify the match, and the finish is pretty darn huge considering that the match takes place at Differ Ariake.

Section 5- Kobashi

This month’s issue of Fighting Spirit Magazine features a column I wrote just before Kobashi’s return match. Well, I finally got a chance to see the match, and… it’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good either.

There are some things working against it; Osaka never has the best crowds for NOAH, Saito isn’t a high-end worker in 2011, Akiyama isn’t what he was, etc. But still, this wasn’t even close to as good as the 2007 return match, which in turn wasn’t as good as the 2002 return match. Kobashi had enough in the tank to have a really good run (considering his limitations) in 2008. The following year he seemed to have just flat-out lost it. I don’t know how much of it was himself, how much was the waning NOAH crowds, and how much was the declining quality of the NOAH roster, but whatever fueled the standout tags in ’08 was gone. The latest return match is similar. He’s almost immobile, he does the same chop spots that wore his hands out, and at this point he isn’t half as good at throwing chops as Shiozaki.

As far as I’m concerned, Kobashi can’t have a significant positive impact on NOAH. There will probably be some 6-mans that he’s able to spruce up with his charisma, and it certainly can’t HURT at the box office, but he’s not going to be able to do big main events or real singles matches. As I speculated some time ago, he will be NOAH’s version of ‘old man Baba’, doing trademark moves to pop the crowd but generally staying out of the main event mix. His face will be on posters, which will help house shows for a little while, but I doubt people will keep coming back for him. He certainly won’t be the thing to get them back over 10,000 people in Tokyo, with the exception of his retirement match. And even then only if it’s in the next few years.

Every now and then I see comments along the lines of ‘will Kobashi end up like Misawa’, ie. will he die from staying in the ring. Short answer: no. Kobashi has taken some huge bumps in his career, but over the last ten years he’s bumped less than pretty much anyone on the NOAH roster. Misawa had almost no time off in his entire career and degraded his vertebrae as a result. There’s no reason to think Kobashi is in any more danger than any other 80s/90s stars who are still going. That said, Kobashi might end up re-injuring his arms and hands like he did in 2008 and 2009, and that could lead to long-term damage. One would hope that he knows how to avoid that, but I have my doubts that he will take it easy on the chopping. Maybe it’s just a matter of wrestling fewer matches per month, but in that case he’ll be of less use to the company.

The bottom line is that it isn’t worth risking what little his body has left for the sake of very small financial returns for a slowly sinking company. Kobashi’s mindset is such that he won’t stop until it’s too late, so it will probably be up to his family, coworkers and doctors to stop him from putting himself in a wheelchair.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

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