Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata v Zazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka (New Japan, 6/12/96)
Well it's only taken me like three years, but I'm finally halfway through the '96 yearbook (well, almost. Fuck it). I've probably forgotten more than I can remember, but Hash has definitely been right up there as one of the best wrestlers in the world so far. One of my favourite things in wrestling is Hashimoto going total apeshit and trying to kick someone to death, and this time it's Yamazaki that gets it. Ref' tries to step in at a couple points and almost gets caught in the crossfire. When Hash flings him all the way across the ring you know it's for his own good, because taking a stray kick would be a whole lot worse. Yamazaki has to get his ribs taped up after the first exchange and looks to be in agony the rest of the match (I'll assume he wasn't really injured, but being repeatedly roundhouse kicked by Hashimoto has to really suck either way). Hash naturally paints a bullseye on it. At one point he just starts jumping on his stomach and Yamazaki looks like he's about to puke. It actually gets to the stage where the crowd are firmly behind Yamazaki and Iizuka, which should be a pretty good indication of how much of a shitkicking he had to take in order to make that happen. Finish is out of nowhere, but that's by design and totally works. I guess it might've looked like Yamazaki kind of popped up too easily, but as soon as it's over he goes back to trying to hold his ribcage in place. He certainly doesn't look like a victor. Has to be said that his selling was pretty fantastic through the whole thing, but you watch this for Hashimoto being a fucking wrecking ball. Everything else is gravy.