Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Mitsuharu Misawa v Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH, 4/15/01)
This is the final of the GHC title tourney and I really thought it was a tremendous match. I could see someone thinking the first half or so was a big step down from the second half, but man, Takayama brutalising Misawa with kicks and wearing him down the way he did felt like an awesome slow build to me. Tak really came across as a huge force here; Misawa's selling as a top dog up against this fuckin' barbarian was pretty exceptional, but Takayama shutting him down time after time with those kicks or just having his way with him because of his size and strength was so great. I love Misawa in survival mode and there were times where I was wondering how he'd come up with a way to not get completely caved in. I'm generally pretty hot and cold on a lot of NOAH, but every time Misawa made a run at coming back here I was buying it like he really had to fight like blazes to get it, and it added a whole lot to the match for me. Then Takayama obliterates him with this kick to the face and Misawa's chin gets split open, and everything after that is just off the charts awesome. Takayama has some glorious seplexes, man. He hits two picture perfect Germans and an equally beautiful tiger suplex, and Misawa being forced to try and rip Tak's shoulder out the socket just to survive felt like a massive moment. Final few minutes are perfect. A bloodied up Misawa's all "Fuck THIS noise", blocks a big boot with an elbow smash, and start letting loose with flurries of elbows right to the face. Every time Takayama goes down it feels like a massive achievment after the punishment Misawa had already been put through. Great, great stuff, and I've got no problem calling this a top 5 match of the year. Big time hyped for their 2002 match now.