SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

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Joe Lanza
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SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:06 am

If you listen to the show, you probably know that I might be the biggest Satoshi Kojima fan around. I believe that he might just be the most underrated wrestler of his generation.

Two things hurt him. He peaked physically during the worst time possible to be great in Japan. He also left New Japan during his prime and spent the meat of his career in post exodus All Japan, which was obviously not a great place to be, both for quality of opponents, and from the aspect of people paying attention because the promotion wasn't very good. I often wonder how he would be viewed had he ended up in NOAH during those years. He likely wouldn't have gotten a chance to be a true ace like he did in AJPW, but he would have had far better opponents to work with.

ITT I will go through Kojima's entire career, in order (for the most part). Matches i've seen, matches I missed. The great matches (there are more than you think). The good matches (almost all of them). The bad matches (Tenzan at the Dome). TenKoji. NWA title matches. EVERYTHING. Join me. Watch along, and give your takes.

HOUSE RULE: Please don't post matches. I don't want to jump ahead. I have a plan here. I'll post a match, I'll break it down, and then I'll post the next. Thanks.

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Joe Lanza
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:40 am

Satoshi Kojima vs Manabu Nakanishi, 3/24/94 NJPW Young Lions Cup Final

http://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00124_3_1

I had never seen this match, and I feel ashamed for admitting it now that I have. This blew away my expectations.

Kojima came into this undefeated in the tournament, but clearly positioned as an underdog in the match (even though he had already defeated Nakanishi in the round robin portion). If young Nakanishi were coming up today, with his plain black tights, no knee pads, and no nonsense style, he'd be booked in EVOLVE and people would rave about him. This was a BEATING, and there was nothing fancy about it. Nakinishi worked snug as fuck, and used a variety of old school beat down maneuvers like stump pullers, crab holds, camel clutches, gut wrench suplexes, and things that can only be described as manly throws. Even the way Nakanishi stalked around the ring gave off an ass kicker vibe, almost like a less athletic and unrefined version of a modern day Katsuyori Shibata.

Kojima's comebacks were cut off before they could even begin to be teased, which combined with his selling and underdog charisma had the fans firmly behind him even when he was immediately cut off. The first pin attempt doesn't even come until about 14 minutes into the 16 minute match, which Kojima kicking out of a German suplex to a big pop. You see the familiar Kojima fire from here, and he doesn't really beat Nakanishi so much as he traps him, putting him away with the Cozy Max, a great looking move that he really needs to start using again. Nakanishi sells it like he really blew an opportunity, which he did since he dominated the entire bout, and Kojima is moved to TEARS in the post match trophy presentation. This entire scene is just so incredible, and is EXACTLY what I love to see in my wrestling... fight, GUTS, and emotion. The NJW link above also has locker room footage of the likes of Shinya Hashimoto, Jushin Liger, POWER WARRIOR, and others pouring beer on Kojima's head as he weeps. Nakanishi enters the scene and they embrace, which is a really fucking cool to watch with the benefit of hindsight knowing that those two would be linked later on and then work for the same company together some 20 years later.

I was never a fan of Nakanishi (who was?), but this might be the best Nakanishi performance I've ever seen. Kojima is great in his role as the overmatched babyfaced babyface who takes a beating but manages to pull off the upset. He's also either the world's greatest worker or this match really meant a ton to him as far as finally arriving, because the post match stuff is incredible.

I feel like I should also note that on the same show, The Great Muta beat BRIAN BLAIR.

Rating: ***3/4, **** range. I give myself a DUD for never having watched it before.

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benjaminkicks
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by benjaminkicks » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:49 am

I recall enjoying a lot of Kojima's All Japan matches, though I am noted as being a pretty big Kojima fan in general. He has good matches in that time with guys like Kawada, Mutoh, Tenryu, Hashimoto, and I think there was a one off with Misawa as well.

And I've enjoyed his recent stuff in New Japan as well, like the Okada match in Fall 2013, and a few great gems in the G1 every year. Some good stuff in his little NOAH run too.

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Joe Lanza
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:51 am

Also his theme music rules and when this music hit in Houston last year when I had a chance to see him live, I marked out like a complete moron.



The match vs Carson was nothing special, but I'll never forget something I saw during intermission. He did an autograph signing deal in the ring, and when the line died down, there were a couple of little kids (no older than 5 or 6) peeking over the apron at him but obviously being shy. He played a little game of hide and seek with them, as they would duck down below the apron, and he would sell it like they disappeared into thin air, and then act all surprised when they'd pop up on the other side of the ring. This went on for a few minutes before he jumped on the floor, scooped them up, threw them over his shoulders, and brought them into the ring while they laughed hysterically. He took pictures with them, and later when he came out for his match, those two kids were the biggest fucking Kojima fans in the building not named Joe Lanza.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Chismo » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:31 am

It's not just Kojima, I love all four guys from the "lost generation" (Kojima, Tenzan, Nagata, Akiyama). Akiyama is a different story, but the other three had bad luck of being buried and crapped on by Inoki during the heyday of crazy Inokism. And while they never got to be the new Jumbos, Hashimotos, Chonos or Kensukes, they still managed to reach the statuses of relative legends (keep in mind they'll go for 5-6 more years) and they piled up a fair amount of classic matches.

Tenzan putting on his working boots for G1 24 made me feel like a kid again, probably my favorite story of 2014. His match with Goto from Korakuen was amazing.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by DylanZero » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:33 am

His All Japan Theme "Stylus" was pretty cool too. I've always been a fan of his too and thought him jumping over and winning the G1, then the title in 2010 was one of the more memorable storylines in the last decade for the company. Loved a lot of his matches too, a darn good worker in AJPW and kinda underrated in his twilight years.

To back up Chismo, I too think those guys are all underrated and likely won't get the credit they deserve for carrying the company in the dark days or what I call the Blue Wolf era. But in fairness Akiyama and Kojima weren't really there during that time. Though had very good careers and memorable outsider runs in NJPW.

Looking forward to more matches and love for the Strongest Arm.
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AndyItwaru
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by AndyItwaru » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:25 am

I love Kojima! And Ive only really seen his latter era so if he was even better than he is now back then Id be blown away! He has such a charisma about him, almost (and I mean this in the best way) a cartoon superhero hulk hogan appeal but with clearly better ring work.

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Andy Doran
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Andy Doran » Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:22 pm

When I got into puro, Kojima was the first guy to stand out to me, oddly enough. I thought his series of matches in AJPW before he won the Triple Crown were great. The story of him getting closer and closer until finally knocking off Kawada was good stuff. And the match with Tenryu from '02 (I think) is tremendous.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Statoke » Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:38 pm

I assumed VoW were the champions of Kojima, just like how we all love Susumu. We love our underrated guys on this forum.
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Joe Lanza
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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:49 pm

Satoshi Kojima vs Fit Finlay, ?/?/95 CWA(?)



Kojima was sent on excursion to CWA in 1995. I *think* this might be this match from 7/27/95 - Street Fight: Joe-Joe Lee defeats Fit Finlay by DQ CWA Catch Cup 1995, because it's the only Kojima/Finlay match I could find that has the proper finish, plus the "Street Fight" stip would explain why it wasn't fought under rounds, but i'm not sure. The ring announcer refers to Kojima as "Satoshi Kojima", but he was usually (if not always) billed as "Joe-Joe Lee" during this run, so this may not even be a CWA show. Who knows?

Anyway, this is exactly what you would expect from a Finlay match from this era (or any era, really), and i'm embarrassed for calling the Nakanishi match "snug" after watching this. I don't quite understand the finish, so maybe you guys can explain why Finlay was DQ'd for the leglock. Watch Finlay slap the Japanese flag after he finds out he lost.

Rating: ***1/2. Matches like this are always in danger of losing me if they go too long or get too cute with the masturbatory overly technical bullshit, but this was the perfect length and always felt like more of a fight than a grappling contest. Enjoyed.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by DETROIT_KEJB » Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:58 pm

I remember him being the defacto Japanese Guy in the PWI top ten one year. Before that, I only knew him as a dude with blonde dreadlocks in VPW2.

He's definitely the stand out in TenKoji, and I'll take him over Nagata 10 out of 10 times.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by whoknew » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:54 am

My first exposure to Kojima was playing EWR. This was way before I even watch any puro and I was thinking who's this unknown with super high stats? Must be a big deal. Needless to say, he helped me drew alot of money and tv ratings and match ratings were generally 90% approved.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by InYourCase » Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:51 am

I love me some Kojima. Always been very good and he's now showing that he cleans up real nice. Arguably the best dressed at the G1 press conference. Looking forward to seeing what else pops up here.

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Joe Lanza » Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:57 am

Satoshi Kojima vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, 1/4/96 NJPW Wrestling World in Tokyo Dome

http://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00141_1_2

As New Japan has been apt to do over the years (see: Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI on the 2012 Dome show), this was Kojima's return match from his year long European excursion, and it was billed as such.

This was was my third viewing of this match. The first was nearly 20 years ago on grainy VHS, the second was when New Japan World dropped (it was one of the first matches I watched on the service). I wasn't crazy about the match on previous viewings, and I wasn't crazy about it the third time. The highlight of this is the first 30 seconds, when Kojima goes right after Tenzan with Mongolian chops and then does a TOPE. Kojima works this firmly as a heel (working holds, using low blows as cut off spots, etc,) and watching this for the first time with the benefit of knowing about his long feud with Finlay the 12 months prior, I now notice that he brings some of that Finlay intensity to this. Of the three matches reviewed so far in this thread, I can definitively say that this is the first where Kojima is clearly the more impressive worker in the match. It isn't a bad match, but in a vacuum there is nothing here that strikes you as being anything special. It does tell the story of Kojima being back and being all business, with the attack at the bell and then the post match sore loser attack from behind.

Rating: **3/4

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Re: SATOSHI KOJIMA APPRECIATION STATION

Post by Derek Drago » Sun Jul 19, 2015 6:25 am

100% agree that Kojima is ridiculously underrated, and when you pointed out that he was older than Tenzan I was legitimately shocked.

Kojima with any passable member of the NJPW roster can give you a ***1/4-***3/4 match. I'd much rather see him in singles than Gallows, Yano, Yujiro, Tenzan, Gallows, Nagata, etc for example. He's still really good.

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