NJPW: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu (January 4, 1997)

I want to try to review all the Wrestle Kingdom main events while they’re free on New Japan World.

A little bit of research tells me that this is Choshu’s final title shot against a heated rival.

The first quarter or so is dedicated to showing these two as equals. They lock horns like bulls and push at each other. They do the test of strength. Eventually, Hashimoto starts in with his kicks, and Choshu takes exception and slaps him around.

Then it turns into something like a passing-of-the-torch story. Choshu overpowers Hashimoto with a suplex and kicks at his leg, then puts him in the Sharpshooter. Hashimoto survives until Choshu gets tired and lets go. Choshu hits Hashimoto with three lariats, and Hash kicks out. Then Choshu hits him with a lariat to the front, one to the back, and another to the front (same way he beat Fujinami at the first Dome show in ’92), and Hash kicks out again. So either Mr. Lariat’s top move is losing its effectiveness, or it’s met its match.

Choshu still has fight, as he kicks out at one from a DDT, which is a big deal. He superplexes Hashimoto, but that doesn’t do the job. He kicks out after a jumping DDT, also a big deal. It all culminates is Hashimoto hitting the Brainbuster DDT (what we just call a brainbuster these days) after a bit of struggle for the win over his old nemesis.

Winner – Shinya Hashimoto

Rating – Good

Much better than the last Hashimoto match I saw. Maybe the best match of these I’ve seen so far, though that second half of Muto/Takada gives it a run for its money.

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