Naoki Sano, Shinichi Nakano & The Great Kabuki v Samson Fuyuki, Takashi Ishikawa & Koki Kitahara (SWS, 11/10/91)
Well this was pretty badass. The central thread running through it is that Fuyuki and Nakano despise each other, but there's also a little side story of Kitahara not really being a fan of Fuyuki either despite being on the same side. It's subtle and they don't play it up much, but Kitahara will refuse to tag him and once or twice stares at him like he'd like to give him a smack. Fuyuki/Nakano is not subtle and they tear into each other and grab each other by the throat and such. The first half was a wee bit ragged even if there was plenty of hate going around (from everyone), and there was a great bit where Ishikawa hit a fat boy plancha, but it's when Fuyuki takes a mugging on the floor that things really pick up. Nakano opens him up with these nasty little rabbit punches and Fuyuki spends a chunk of time in peril. Sano was winging kicks and punching the cut, Kabuki was throwing his awesome uppercuts to the body and chin, and Nakano was biting away at that open wound. Fuyuki is always really vocal with his selling and his shrieks were sort of uncomfortable. I mean, you'd probably expect it out of someone whose forehead was being gnawed at. Short finish run is hectic and I was fine with Nakano just grabbing a chair and cracking Fuyuki with it. If you're gonna do a DQ in a Tenryu fed then you need to make it look legit and Nakano made this chair shot look legit. Post-match Fuyuki gets zero sympathy from Kitahara who volleys him in the face, which was just the best payoff. Even Ishikawa was affronted.
Toshiaki Kawada v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 1/17/00)
Their last ever match together, so I suppose it's fitting that it felt a bit like a Greatest Hits show. It wasn't absolutely stacked with bombs or anything, but I'd probably rather watch them go twenty minutes than forty-plus at this point anyway. Kawada was the best wrestler in the world in 2000 and he was exceptional in this. Kobashi was kind of picky with the selling and I'm not in love with the Hulk Up shtick, but Kawada basically used that to make the match feel like an uphill struggle. Like, I don't think Kobashi took a great deal more of the match than Kawada did, but based on how Kobashi would often steamroll him and the way Kawada sold it all you knew who the dominant one was. Kawada was always in with the kicker's chance. He dropped Kobashi with a few big suplexes (and Kobashi took them on his head), but much of his offence was kicks. And they were awesome kicks -- the punts, the gamengiri, the roundhouses, the HUGE axe kick, they all looked killer. Sometimes they'd come across as desperation as well, like when he fought off Kobashi's dogged attempt at a German suplex by hitting an enziguri. If Kobashi was suspect with the selling, he was not with the offence. He was chopping Kawada right in the neck, and while the fighting spirit spots might've been eye-rolly he sure tried to make you forget about them straight after with the lariat. Plus he did everything with a scowl. Finish had some awesome dead-on-his-feet selling from Kawada just for good measure, and the fact the crowd seemed to buy into a cross armbreaker as a possible finish despite there not being a submission finish in All Japan since 1992 (prolly) was pretty cool as well.