It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, it’s Voices of Wrestling Secret Santa time again, everyone. The brainchild of JR Goldberg (@wrestlingbubble), VOW Secret Santa sees all participating website contributors give their fellow contributors, the greatest gift of all: wrestling matches!

VOW Secret Santa Archives:

Satoshi Kojima vs. Toshiaki Kawada
All Japan Pro Wrestling
February 16, 2005

Reviewed by Steve Case (@coachcase44)

Gifted by Neil David (@chubby_cthulhu)

What a nice little Christmas treat this is! I thought I had watched this match before, but it turns out that’s not the case. Thank you for making me feel like Hiroyoshi Tenzan walking into the arena before this match. Cool, confident, dripping with “I will rip any of you in half” charisma, and the IWGP title in his hands.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the pre-match video, other than apparently there’s a Kojima vs. UMAGA AJPW match that I NEED to find. Kawada (second-best pillar by the way) looks like he was at the local bar all day, drinking and getting irritated by the locals asking him what it was like in Mitsuhara Misawa’s shadow. This is not good for Kojima, who seemingly hasn’t aged a day in the 16 years since this match.

Let me tell you something about this beef slapper. I love Kojima. He can still go into his 50s, he hits like a truck, and the more I see from his prime, the more I like him. But Kawada is just DIFFERENT. Kojima hits hard. Kawada hits HEAVY. Kojima’s chops sound like thuds. Kawada’s sound like gunshots. Kawada worked this like he was legitimately trying to hurt Kojima. The chops, the kicks, the forearms all seemed designed to remove a limb from Kojima’s body and not as if they expected retaliation. Guys like Kawada just stand out, and Satoshi freaking Kojima is an all-timer in his own right!

Kawada beat the hell out of Kojima for probably 80% of this match, and the crowd was screaming for Kojima throughout. Outside of the few hope spots he got in the meat of the match, Kojima really didn’t have control until close to the end of the match. Ultimately, Kawada did succumb to “the strongest arm” and Kojima got the pinfall. Kawada attacked Kojima after the match, but it led to him presenting Kojima with the Triple Crown, and embracing Kojima as if to tell him, “You’re almost as much of a psycho as me.”

Tremendous gift, this match. If I had to rate it, I would go somewhere in the four and a quarter Christmas cookie range. As for who gifted it to me, I’m going to guess that it’s the biggest Kojima fan I know of, our very own Captain, Rich Kraetsch.