“The irresistible force meets the immovable object” is a classic cliche in pro wrestling. Most famously used by Gorilla Monsoon to describe Andre The Giant versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3, it is commonly used when two wrestlers of a certain magnitude, force, presence face off against each other in a battle of wills where neither man is capable of losing, but one ultimately will.
At least, that’s how I feel it should be used.
A lot of times it can be thrown out willy nilly to try to hype up a match that desperately needs some juice or a hook. Either way, while a cliche and now commonplace, it nevertheless is a fair summation of certain face-offs, matchups, and confrontations.
What if those forces though not only existed but then went on to beat the hell out of each other? That’s what you get with Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kenta Kobashi from Pro Wrestling NOAH Destiny 2020, or more specifically: for five minutes.
For nearly five straight minutes Kensuke Sasaki and Kenta Kobashi chopped the living fuck out of each other, and it straight up ruled. Memorable, historical, and back when it happened often talked about.
Two badasses of pro wrestling not afraid to go head-on against one another. Neither man backed down, their fighting spirit strong, their wills iron, their bodies absorbing pain and punishment. Their arms swinging into each other’s chest while simultaneously the sweat flew off.
Lesser wrestlers, lesser in skill, presence, recognition could try (and probably have tried) this spot and fail miserably. It would come off cheap, lame, self-serving. We’d all become God from “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail” screaming “GET ON WITH IT”. It would be ridiculed, razed, roasted, and rightfully so.
ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THAT pertains here though. This is fucking Kensuke Sasaki and Kenta Kobashi. This is two legends, two hard asses, two brutes. They know not only can they get away with it, but they can do more than that. They can make it work, they can make it memorable, and damn it if successfully became both of those things.
It helps they don’t go right away. It gets some build before it starts. They begin the match taking it to each other. Sasaki immediately hits a back suplex and it’s on from there. The crowd is fucking amped for this encounter and their energy carries into the match almost immediately. This was at the Tokyo Dome, this was Pro Wrestling NOAH when it was consistently on its game, at one of NOAH’s best shows ever.
The stars were aligned for memorable moments and stand-out performances. The electricity of the energy cackled and sizzled in a way certain performers become supercharged with adrenaline and emotion. Lesser wrestlers perform beyond their capabilities, and legends for an evening become Gods.
Kobashi and Kensuke Sasaki were those Gods. Two men who have carved their faces into the mountain of pro-wrestling legends preparing to go to war, and within that war they would have one of the most memorable battles in wrestling. With a hot crowd cheering on almost everything they did, they could do almost anything and get away with almost anything. They use this to their advantage to get away with the chop battle to end all chop battles.
This wouldn’t work if they were insufficient chops. If these chops were weak-willed and limp-handed this chop battle would’ve been ridiculous and ridiculed in kind. One needs not worry about such scenarios with these two. They laid them the fuck in at will. They would circle each other and constantly rain down chop after chop after chop. The crowd cheered, applauding them on. It was a stubborn standoff. Neither man wanting to be the first to stop, neither man wanting to yield, both men taking, absorbing, allowing the blows upon their bodies. This wasn’t just two men hitting each other repeatedly. This was a test of endurance, a test of stamina, a test of desire and determination. A test of not only who could give it the hardest, but who could take it the most. The fighting spirit flowed through their cold hard steel veins as both men did their best not to give up ground.
We had repeated chops, they would get each other in the corner and hit rapid-fire chops. They would demand each other bring their hardest, fastest, and biggest chops. One was left wondering who’s spirit (and chest) would finally collapse. The drama got higher, the emotion flew at the exact same rate as the sweat off their bodies. Both men daring, demanding the best from the other. Call it fighting spirit, call it stubborn, call it what you will, I called it then and I call it now fucking awesome and legendary.
This is one of the most badass sequences in pro wrestling. Watching these two legends go toe to toe, chest to chest, chop to chop against each other was nothing short of special. A kind of special you don’t realize you want to experience until it happened. As a bonus, this was my first taste of Pro Wrestling NOAH. This was my first shot, and it supercharged me and wanted me to hook that era of Pro Wrestling NOAH directly to my veins. That allows this match to make it to the higher echelons of my mind. For what it meant to me in my growing interest in wrestling outside of the United States back in those years. When I had high-speed internet at long last and was willing to explore that hive of scum and villainy (Limewire) for my fix.
There must be an ending, there must be a conclusion, and as Kobashi delivered one final chop and toppled Susuke at long last we got it. It came with a cost. Kobashi throws everything he has in the final strike and goes down himself. There is no celebrating of the conquest. He had technically won the battle, but there was more war to fight and now he was just as exhausted and tired as his fallen opponent. If they were not legends, if they were not Gods at that moment they would have nothing left to give their fans. They didn’t have much more in the tank, but they would tap into their reserves and put an exclamation point on the proceeds that were already peppered with them. Kobashi would win with a brutally stiff lariat and Kensuke Sasaki would fall. It’s the type of fall one cannot be ashamed of. The fall where you concede and realize you lost to a legend of stature and success. The fall where you accept you gave everything of yourself and spent all you had in body and spirit in defeat. You could hold your head high, you can be proud. Never backed down, your fighting spirit still burned, you would fight another day. It did not take away from Kensuke Sasaki, if anything it managed to enhance him even further.
You can’t do this sequence with too many wrestlers, too many matches, even too many settings. You have to have that combination. Recently Kota Ibushi and Taichi had a twenty-minute long battle that was 99.8 percent kicking the fuck out of each other. I enjoyed it quite well (I gave it **** ½) but it still falls short when put up against these five jam-packed minutes of these two chopping the shit out of each other. This was a match within a match. A battle within the war. The fight takes a break so that a struggle within the conflict can play out. This chop battle didn’t determine who won, but it did determine who’s fighting spirit was stronger, and in the end, both of their spirits proved to be near insurmountable. Only exhaustion finally led to their downfalls, and who could blame them, You end up exhausted from watching it play out. I’m tired from writing about it. The thud of the many chops echoes through my ears as I write these words down. They echo through the written and verbal histories of pro wrestling.
If you listen closely you can hear two pro wrestling spirits, fighting and willing themselves never to back down.
The bodies break, but the spirit lingers on, and this match, and the battle within, will live forever.