Shinya Hashimoto & Takashi Iizuka v Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami (New Japan, 1/4/00)
Awesome, wild, chaotic spectacle. I know the Hash/Ogawa feud is generally considered to be a colossal fuck up, but holy shit did the crowd lose their mind for every interaction they had together. They're completely nuclear for this whole thing, and a big Dome crowd like that will always put a smile on my face. Even from the intros this feels huge. Match winds up getting thrown out after a few minutes because it's basically turned into a full blown riot, so Inoki gets in the ring wearing a white tracksuit and wielding a kendo stick (I think). He gets on the mic and hell if I know what he says but I'll assume it's something along the lines of "THE SHOW MUST GO FUCKING ON." And so it does. Everything in this is brutally stiff. I don't think Murakami ever properly learned how to throw a worked strike, but here he's just full force cracking Iizuka in the face with punches and knees like a reckless headcase. Hashimoto is utterly spectacular in this. After the restart he tags in for the first time, but Marakami continues fighting with Iizuka. He has the mount on Iizuka and isn't really paying attention to Hash. Maybe he doesn't care that Hash is the legal man. Hash kind of stands there at first, like a school teacher waiting for the kids at the back to be quiet. Then he loses patience and fucking smashes Murakami in the spleen. Crowd reaction to him telling Ogawa to get in the ring is amazing, and really, this match is a perfect example of why Hash is so great. His energy is just off the charts. It's impossible not to get invested in what he's doing, and his presence alone turns something that'd already be big into something that feels truly momentous. The Hash/Ogawa exchanges are what you want them to be, and Hash winning strike exchanges really feels like the moment in a movie where the hero is able to start cracking the Big Bad's armour. The crowd start believing as well, and the louder they get the more fired up Hash gets. Incredible moment where he rips off his boxing glove and starts laying into Ogawa with overhand chops. Incredible moment #2 when he can't be bothered with rope breaks and just headbutts Ogawa in the cheek. Honestly, it cannot be stresses enough how unbelievably fucking boss Shinya Hashimoto is in this match. Finish is totally sick as well. Hash is on the floor trying to snap Ogawa's arm (after Ogawa runs through folks with killer STOs), while in the ring it looks like Murakami is having his way with Iizuka. Iizuka has heart and has the entire Dome crowd behind him, but Murakami is a stone cold fucking psychopath and seems literally incapable of doing anything that doesn't hurt you. He takes Iizuka down and starts unloading fists, but Iizuka manages to escape and lock in a disgusting rear naked choke for the stoppage. Crowd goes utterly batshit insane, the ring fills up with people in tracksuits, and then Hashimoto tries to get at Ogawa some more. This was several thousand levels of great.