Puroresu Pulse, issue 126: Come for the news, stay for the Kobashi

If the best match ever doesn’t make you click, what will?

Section 1- Results

Dragon Gate: Mori beat Yoshino to win the lightweight title, but since it was caused by a run-in Mori vacated the belt. New Hazard retained the trios titles against Typhoon. Yamato turned against New Hazard to join MO’z.

New Japan: Masato Tanaka retained the Zero-One title against Kanemoto on the 13th. Also on that show, Liger & AKIRA retained the junior tag belts.

NOAH: Tag tournament results include Misawa & Ogawa over Sasaki & Nakajima, Takayama & Sano, and Morishima & Yone; Akiyama & Rikio over Marufuji & Sugiura and Misawa & Ogawa; Morishima & Yone drawing Sasaki & Nakajima; Bison & Saito over Akiyama & Rikio; Marufuji & Sugiura over Takayama & Sano. Parity all around, and the only teams eliminated are the obvious no-hopers (Taue/Shiozaki and D-Lo/Bull), Sasaki & Nakajima and Takayama & Sano.

Section 2- News

All Japan: Sasaki vs Suwama, as expected, is set for the big Aichi show on the 29th. Also added is Mutoh & Doering defending against a Voodoo Murders team to be named. Kea’s “heel turn” wound up becoming he and Minoru Suzuki joining midcard stable Tokyo Gurentai.

Dragon Gate: Added to the 5/5 show is Arai & Iwasa vs Saito & Yokosuka for the tag titles and Shingo vs Tanisaki in a hardcore match. The lightweight title will be decided in an 8 man tournament starting tomorrow, featuring El Blazer, Gamma, Horiguchi, Tanisaki, Pac, and with Yoshino vs Mori in the first round. Semis and finals will take place Sunday. Shingo vs Sekimoto is set for the 5/10 Mochizuki-booked show.

New Japan: Tanahashi injured a knee ligament during his match with Kawada, then wrestled twice the next night. As a result he’s out for several months. Nakamura’s next defense will be on Sunday against no less than Mutoh. Also on Sunday will be Wataru Inoue defending the junior title against Chrisopher Daniels. NJ vs Z-1 continues, with Hidaka vs Taguchi and Ohtani vs Nakanishi on 5/10, Chono & Sato vs Ohtani & Sekimoto on 5/5, Nagata/Nakanishi/Kanemoto vs Tanaka/Sai/Hidaka on 5/2, and numerous other skirmishes. The 5/5 show is a Chono special and will also have Nakanishi vs Yoshie.

NOAH: Added to the Budokan show is Kobashi, Honda & KENTA vs Takayama, Sano & Shiozaki.

Section 3- Shills down my spine

Clark on puro!

Jake on ROH!

Aaron on two big matches!

Clark on Joe!

Section 4- Kobashi, Step 3 of 7

The longest and in my opinion best set of these!

15. Hansen vs Kobashi, Champions Carnival 1994
Importance: Rematch from their climactic battle the previous July.
Uniqueness: The last high-level singles match from Hansen and a milestone for Kobashi.
Why it’s a good match: It’s Hansen and Kobashi doin’ stuff? This is towards the lower end of the 50 matches in the series but it’s still well worth it.

16. Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, May 21st 1994
Importance: First title defense for Misawa & Kobashi, a chance to show if their Tag League win was for real.
Uniqueness: A standard-setting tag due to their ability to sustain top quality action for quite a long time.
Why it’s a good match: This isn’t just good, it’s nearly flawless. They do callbacks to past matches, they make you want to see any of them in singles matches, they keep the pace up, they build and build without going too far, and everyone looks better at the end than they did coming in. I put this in my top 5 for All Japan in the ‘90s, and though that’s a minority opinion I’m certainly not alone in my adoration.

17. Williams vs Kobashi, September 3rd 1994
Importance: Kobashi’s first shot at the Triple Crown and first time headlining Budokan Hall by himself.
Uniqueness: For the first time I think Kobashi really comes across as an established star rather than an up-and-coming second-in-command.
Why it’s a good match: Along the lines of their August ’93 match, this builds gradually and ends in brutal fashion.

18. Kawada vs Kobashi, January 19th 1995
Importance: Kobashi’s first Triple Crown match against one of his peers.
Uniqueness: Longest singles match All Japan had seen since the days of old-school technical clinics.
Why it’s a good match: Great wrestling as you’d expect of them most of the way, though they do struggle to hold it together at the end. Quite an accomplishment to even be standing at the 55 minute mark with the kind of punishment they mete out.

19. Misawa & Kobashi vs Williams & Ace, March 4th 1995
Importance: Follow-up to their trio of matches in ’94, during which Williams & Ace became the only team to get a fall on Misawa & Kobashi going back to mid ’93.
Uniqueness: Misawa & Kobashi are now the incumbents, while Ace gets crowd support as an underdog.
Why it’s a good match: Johnny Ace struggled to even be the 10th best wrestler in All Japan, but during his tags with Williams he managed to hold his own.

20. Kawada vs Kobashi, Champions Carnival 1995
Importance: If Kawada wins, he gets into the finals picture. If Kobashi can hold him off, teammate Misawa will only have to worry about Taue.
Uniqueness: Somewhat of a hidden gem, this is (for my money) the best match Kobashi had against a non-gaijin opponent all the way to ’97.
Why it’s a good match: Unlike the January match where they ran out of steam, or the October ’93 match where they sometimes struggled to keep up the momentum, this is a longish match that’s consistently great and hard-hitting.

21. Kawada, Ace & Omori vs Hansen, Kobashi & Akiyama, April 15th 1995
Importance: Sets up some key themes for the upcoming epic.
Uniqueness: Odd pairings, which makes for a very interesting and entertaining match.
Why it’s a good match: Hansen’s grumpiness added to the reliable Kawada vs Kobashi sections.

22. Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, June 9th 1995
Importance: Misawa & Kobashi have now lost just once in the last two years, running over one top team after another. They were taken to a 60 minute draw in January by Kawada & Taue, and if Misawa & Kobashi get a win here there’s no stopping them.
Uniqueness: Is ‘the best match of all time’ unique enough?
Why it’s a good match: It has everything. Building off the May ’94 match, this one has deeper psychology and storytelling, more intricate and creative sequences, more intensity, more emotion, and an incredible finish. I’m not assuming YOU will think this is the best ever after seeing it, but if you’ve watched the previous matches in the Kobashi series, at the very least you will appreciate its incredible quality.

Next Time: Every promotion will have had a big show, meaning plenty to report and discuss!

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