From The Vault – 3

Still on KENTA & Marufuji – THE TAG YEARS~!

4 matches this week. I’ll see if I can fire through the rest next week. While I’m definitely not getting sick of watching these matches, finding different things to write about them is becoming hard.

Kenta & Marufuji vs. Ogawa & Suzuki – 4/3/2004

Former GHC HEAVY champ Yoshinari Ogawa drops down to the junior division here to get a crack at Kenta & Marufuji. He picks Kotaro Suzuki as his partner. This was the youngsters first title shot and easily his biggest match ever. They went a half hour and to it’s credit it never got boring. Suzuki had some slip ups here and there but that added to the story. Marufuji got a huge win pinning Ogawa with a top rope Shiranui after surviving a couple of backdrop suplexes. Very good defense ****1/4.

Kenta & Marufuji vs. Misawa & Ogawa – 4/25/2004

Quite the awesome dynamic here. Kenta & Marufuji go for the HEAVYWEIGHT tag belts, a true step up. Ogawa wants to prove himself after the junior champs beat him and Suzuki a few weeks prior, and Misawa wants to prove that pesky little men deserve nothing but elbows in the face, lots and lots of elbows in the face! Kenta & Marufuji have faced heavyweight competition before but never in a match of this importance.

Cool touch to the entrances as we see everyone make their way from the backstage (almost Goldberg-esque). The juniors come out full of piss and vinegar and WE KNOW it’s on from there. It doesn’t take Misawa long to say “fuck this, you fuckers aren’t gonna blow me up in the first 5 minutes, time to smash faces!” and the boys get slown down with some meaty strikes. The next 10 minutes or so is all dominance from the vets, with Kenta & Marufuji getting in little hope spots every now and then. They manage to survive and having taken Misawa and Ogawa into deep waters, they use their superior energy and youthful exuberance to start to get an advantage. Tons of nearfalls down the stretch (duh) and the crowd really seemed to think it could go either way.

Marufuji busted out the Shiranui Kai on Misawa and got the visual pin before Ogawa broke it up, at which point they showed two young ladies in absolute hysterics in the audience. The finish does come after a cool exchange where the Busaiku Knee Kick was teased but the vets cut KENTA off and Misawa nailed Marufuji with the crazy Emerald Frosion suplex variation for death and the 1-2-3.

Really great match, that gets a familiar rating. ****1/2. Could have gone higher but there were a couple of minor disjointed bits that take it down a notch.

So nothing has topped the Hashi/Kanemaru match as of yet.

Kenta & Marufuji vs. Sugiura & Kendo Kashin – 7/10/2004

From the mighty TOKYO EGG DOME~!~!~! This was NOAH’s biggest show ever (and some would argue best). This was the weirdest match yet for one reason and one reason alone – Kendo Kashin. For those who don’t know Kendo Kashin, he’s a former New Japan wrestler who decided he wanted to become a whacky American style heel. Unfortunately when he does heelish stuff it doesn’t draw heel heat, it just looks like a guy saying “HEY LOOK AT ME, I’M A HEEL”. He infamously did this crap at an ROH show and people were mega pissed and not in a “I wanna see this guy get his ass kicked” kinda way. More a “I never wanna see you again” kinda way.

Anyway his antics here just led to confusion and got in the way of the other three guys trying to have an awesome match. Last 4 or 5 minutes are pretty damn hot. The challengers bust out a great spot where Sug caught Maru in his rolling ankle lock at the same time as Kashin hit KENTA with a Minoru Special armbar from the top rope.

Last minute is all Maru and Sug. The latter won’t stay down until the former hits a sweet Shiranui from the top for the win. ***3/4. Would have been much higher if it wasn’t for Kashin’s clowning around.

Kenta & Marufuji vs. Marvin & Suzuki – 6/1/2004

Story here is that Marvin and Suzuki have both had shots already with different partners, now they join forces and on paper they match up pretty well with the champs. In the first part of the match the challengers looked really good; they took control and isolated KENTA, wearing him down. It was really clear that Marvin & Suzuki were much more focused and ready for this shot. Marvin was working a much slower methodical style; apparently someone confiscated his coke before this match. Eventually though KENTA turned the tables on him and the champs took control. They destroyed Marvin for several minutes, uncorking a whole slew of new double teams.

Marvin’s hot tag was one of the coolest hot tags I’ve ever seen, I can’t describe the sequence in words because it was so damn intricate. The place popped huge and Kotaro came in to kick some ass. Things go back and forth for a while with both teams landing big moves on each other. I think the point where the crowd really starts to buy that Marvin & Kotaro can take the belts is when they take out a springboarding Marufuji with double dropkicks in mid air and then hit synchronised 619’s. The place erupted for that. The champs survived and Marufuji and Suzuki were left alone in the ring. The busted out a cool cradle sequence full of 2.999999’s. At this point if Kotaro was an NBA Jam character he’d burst into flames, he was a man on a mission (without the rapping). He gets the biggest nearfall of his life after murdering Marufuji with a super reverse rana and then his Blue Destiny finisher. Marvin’s reaction to this nearfall was great, he totally flipped out and started kicking guardrails. Suzuki was not to be deterred though. He went to the top for something else but KENTA, breaking free from Marvin came in and hit Kotaro with a vicious kick, allowing Marufuji to hit Shiranui Kai for the 1-2-3. AWESOME match. Probably my second favourite so far. ****1/2

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