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Big In Japan: Volume Two

In the first installment of this series I looked at an interesting match between Vader and Mike Barton (Bart Gunn) because they had two drastically different careers. This time around, I’m looking at a critically acclaimed match. The match took place on March 1st, 2003 for Pro Wrestling NOAH between GHC Heavyweight Champion Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi.

Admittedly, I’ve seen very little of both men. In fact, I couldn’t tell you a Misawa match that I’ve watched off hand. As for Kobashi, I’ve seen only a couple and one of those matches was against Samoa Joe in 2005 for ROH. That match was an iconic match and the atmosphere was incredible to watch even while watching it on DVD.

The whole purpose of this series is to expand my viewing habits and to watch matches from Japan and the first installment was a lot of fun for a random match. Considering this is a highly praised match, I’m really looking forward to watching it.

GHC Heavyweight Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi – March 1st, 2003 – NOAH

Kobashi misses a spinning back fist against the ropes to start the contest and the fans let out a shock reaction and we’re only ten seconds into the match. Kobashi shoulder blocks Misawa and they begin to trade stiff shots. Misawa counters a back suplex landing on top for a near fall and they have a standoff. Misawa takes Kobashi down to the mat and keeps arm control for a few moments. Kobashi gets to his feet and they trade hammerlocks. Misawa takes Kobashi down to the mat with a top wrist lock. Misawa drops Kobashi on his head with a back suplex and Kobashi rolls to the floor. Misawa heads to the top rope ands takes Kobashi out with a flying forearm. Misawa runs off the apron to hit a somersault dive onto Kobashi. Misawa rolls Kobashi into the ring and climbs to the top hitting a missile dropkick. Misawa goes to the other corner and hits a frog splash for a near fall.

Misawa has an arm bar locked in on Kobashi, but isn’t going to get a submission. Misawa delivers a few elbow strikes to Kobashi’s arm. Kobashi backs Misawa into the corner and they trade strikes with Misawa getting the advantage. Kobashi breaks free of arm control but is met with a forearm after jumping into the air. Misawa continues to hammer away on Kobashi in the corner. Kobashi gets a sleeper on Misawa, but Misawa breaks free and dropkicks Kobashi to the floor. Misawa baseball slides Kobashi into the guard railing and fakes a dive. Misawa jumps off the apron and misses Kobashi hitting the railing hard face first and he’s bleeding from the mouth.

Kobashi drops a leg over Misawa’s back over the railing. Kobashi tries for a suplex on the floor, but Misawa avoids it. Kobashi tries again and tosses Misawa with an overhead suplex. Kobashi brings Misawa to the apron and elbow strikes Misawa over the turnbuckle a few times. Kobashi hooks Misawa and hits a front suplex for a near fall. Kobashi wrenches on Misawa’s neck before letting go and settling for stomps. They begin to trade stiff strikes in the middle of the ring. Kobashi comes off the ropes to leg drop Misawa over the back and keeps control with a headlock. Kobashi sends Misawa to the aisle way and plants the champ with a DDT! Kobashi tosses Misawa back into the ring and gets a two count.

Kobashi continues to work over Misawa with chops in the corner to keep control of the contest. Misawa tries for a money flip, but Kobashi drops Misawa over the turnbuckle and hits a couple of overhead suplexs. Kobashi locks in a full nelson submission in the middle of the ring. Misaswa reaches the ropes to break the hold. Kobashi chops Misawa a few times to stagger the champ. Kobashi overhand strikes Misawa to the mat several times. Misawa begins to no sell the strikes and trades forearms. Kobashi stops Misawa with a side suplex for a near fall. Misawa elbow strikes Kobashi several times and hits a German suplex. Misawa drops Kobashi with a under hook suplex but they are both up and trading strikes. Misawa decks Kobashi with a roaring forearm leading to both men being down.

Misawa gets to his feet first and tries for a half nelson suplex. Kobashi delivers a few chops, but Misawa tries for a powerbomb, but delivers a few elbow strikes and a somersault leg drop. Misawa plants Kobashi with the Tiger Driver for a near fall. Misawa nearly wins the match following a tiger suplex and both men are clearly exhausted. Misawa puts a kneeling abdominal stretch on Kobashi, but isn’t able to get a submission. Misawa plants Kobashi with another Tiger Driver for a near fall. Kobashi gets out of a slam and tosses Misawa with an overhead suplex. Kobashi drops Misawa on his head with a sleeper suplex. Misawa leaps off the middle rope and Kobashi delivers a clothesline to the back of the champs head for a near fall. Misawa forearms Kobashi a few times, but Kobashi comes back with a clothesline for a two count.

Kobashi tries for a suplex, but Misawa blocks it and lands on the apron. Misawa suplexs Kobashi from the ring onto the ramp. Misawa comes off the ropes and nails Kobashi with a suicide dive on the ramp. Misawa tries for a Tiger Driver on the ramp, but Kobashi blocks it. Misawa instead hits an under hook suplex off the ramp and tosses Kobashi onto the floor! They both struggle but manage to return to the ring before the twenty count. Misawa nearly wins the match.

Misawa nails Kobashi with a jumping knee for a two count. Kobashi staggers Misawa with a strike to the chest. Misawa delivers a spinning back elbow a couple of times. Misawa has Kobashi over the shoulder and drives Kobashi down to the mat for a near fall. Kobashi tries for a double under hook powerbomb, but Kobashi is blocking it. Misawa knee strikes Kobashi, but Kobashi takes the champ over with a backdrop. They collide on clothesline attempts and they both go down with Kobashi landing on top nearly winning the match. Kobashi hooks Misawa for a brainbuster and hits it! Kobashi has the cover, but Misawa kicks out at two. Kobashi has Misawa set for a Burning Hammer and hits it! Kobashi has the cover and wins the title! *

Honestly, that was incredible. A hard hitting match with some absolutely crazy spots that I’m surprised neither man broke their necks from. If you’re following this series these two will be seen several more times throughout as I was shocked by the action here and I want to see more of these guys. These two came across like complete stars in Japan and the crowd reaction made the viewing experience feel like a big deal. If you’re like me and haven’t seen this go to YouTube and watch it. It’s a must-see match no question about it.

If you have suggestions for me to view for this series, leave a comment or send an e-mail!

Thanks for reading.

Bob Colling Jr. View All

34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.

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