NJPW Sussudio Sessions: R.W. Andrews reviews Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Satoshi Kojima – Collapse of Apogee

By R.W. Andrews

Part 1 – The Return

Is it just me or do all the great ass kickers have an extended tour in All Japan? I really need to find a way to dig through that promotion’s crates. Anyways, August 2010 sees Satoshi Kojima return to New Japan with a golden ticket to enter the year’s G1 Climax tournament. Going on an absolute tear through his block, he only suffers two defeats – one to Yuji Nagata and one to Shinsuke Nakamura – so fair enough. Surprisingly, even with that type of showing, it wasn’t the smoothest of paths to the finals. Gifted with a thirty-minute draw between Shinsuke Nakamura and Go Shiozaki – don’t know him, but I think I found a future entrant into the series – the returning Kojima just manages to squeak past them by a point to meet Hiroshi Tanahashi. To the winner, a title match against IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Togi Makabe. Pay homage. To the loser, well, it’s a feud article so we’ll see you in Part 2.

Satoshi Kojima vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
G1 Climax 2010 at Ryogoku Kokugikan
August 15, 2010

This is absolutely amazing. The King of Batsu himself, Masahiro Chono, is the first image on the screen when the stream kicks in. Spotlights reflect off of his pitch-black sunglasses, skittering to a blur as his head bobbles wildly with each bark into the mic. But the image is fleeting, a blip on the screen thanks to a quick-cut to Kojima walking to the ring. Then another in the space of a blink, the screen flashing to Kojima flexing and roaring into the camera, his face scrunched in a way that tests the adhesive integrity of a Breathe Right strip stretched across the bridge of his nose. And then Tanahashi happens. This son of a bitch was muscled-up beyond belief in 2010. Same anime hairstyle that we enjoy to this day, but my God this freaking guy was ginormous. Speaking of ginormity, that gorgeous Dynasty Warriors-inspired entrance theme of his is trumpeted full bore through the speakers as he marches to the ring. I miss that song.

We get another quick-cut to the hard camera capturing an absolutely packed house stirring in anticipation of the bell’s toll. The paparazzi are out in full force, their upper torsos shrink-wrapped in tight red vests as their fingers busily click away at center stage. The referee for the match is the most delightful sight of all, an embodiment of everything I love about the king of sports. Ladies and Gentlemen, Red Shoes is on call sporting a dyed orange, feathery haircut. This is…with a tear in my eye! Wooo! That almond-skinned beauty just has a way about him, a cocky flair that truly heightens my enjoyment of every match he’s tasked with overseeing.

As Carrot Top calls for the bell, Kojima and Tanahashi stalk one another, their footsteps circling a path that slowly tightens with each pass. Finally converging, they pay the proper respect to Masahiro Chono with a ceremonial Batsu Game. Forearm by Tanahashi, slap by Kojima, forearm by Tanahashi, slap by Kojima, another six-pack is tapped into as Red Shoes wafts his arms wildly like he’s trying to contain the action, ANOTHER six-pack is cracked open in brutal fashion before Kojima picks up the win with a boot to the gut. Wonderful start.

Tanahashi scores with a dropkick and immediately turns to gauge the crowd’s approval. Pleased with the response, he spins back and is forced to buckle up for a shoulder that pancakes him to the mat. The crowd strikes back for him, chanting his name in deafening unison as the foes tie back up. They exchange hammerlocks, looping toward the ropes before Kojima winds up snaked for a break. “Rope! Rope!” screams Red Shoes as The Ace breaks clean to a huge round of applause.

Kojima finds himself out-dueled on the mat, stuck in a side headlock that can only be pried loose by reaching the ropes. Tanahashi again gets the better of him by escaping a toehold and attacking his arm with a series of strikes and a modified cross-arm breaker. Thoroughly outpointed at this stage of the game, Kojima’s arm becomes the focus of Tanahashi’s attack…for the TV time limit equivalent of an eternity. Tick tock, Boys. We go shit to do here. The crowd actually turns a little on Tanahashi as he strips off Kojima’s arm bandage and whips it to the mat. Interesting. I’ve never heard a crowd boo Tanahashi before. Red Shoes is all over the place during this never-ending string of wear-downs; appearing right in the middle of the action one moment and on the apron directing traffic the next. It’s like watching a cartoon character teleport along the screen. Kojima FINALLY gets in some offense after catching Tanahashi’s errant kick, elbowing his kneecap repeatedly. Ah hell, he decides to explore the outer reaches of eternity with a series of holds – each one broken at the ropes as Red Shoes encourages Tanahashi to keep fighting. That entire paragraph just condensed about twenty and change of “action”.

Hopefully past the rest hold portion of the match, Kojima buries a series of chops into Tanahashi’s chest in the corner, followed by a counter-coast whip that leaves Tanahashi crumpled on the canvas after his knee gives out. While pulling himself up in the corner, Kojima sprints in with a roaring forearm, the collision dumping Tanahashi right back to the mat. But as Kojima drops an elbow, he’s forced to cradle his arm as a result of Tanahashi’s extended limb beatdown delivered multiple lifetimes ago.

Kojima tries to head up top, but Tanahashi dropkicks him to the floor and hops outside to run the apron and connect with a front flip splash. Red Shoes comes out to check on both men, deciding that it’s his time to shine by beginning a count while they writhe in pain on the floor. Both men beat the count in tandem, Tanahashi scoring first with a flying forearm off a whip. He pops Kojima’s chin with a series of European Uppercuts before transitioning to a second rope moonsault that gets a two amidst the sound of the crowd audibly perking up.

Kojima counters a Slingblade with a spinebuster as the announcer belts out, “Spinebuuuuster!” He heads up top for…wait, this big bastard can’t take flight, can he? Tanahashi ascends to quell his aeronautical aspirations, a presence greeted by a forearm. As Tanahashi slumps up high from the shot, Kojima climbs down to the apron and cocks back the hammer on a lariat that sends Tanahashi into a backflip where his neck smacks the apron en route to the floor! “Aaaaaap!” shrieks the announcer as Red Shoes does a feet-first slide under the ropes to check on him as Kojima rolls back in to collapse.

With his faculties magically still intact, Tanahashi is welcomed back with a DDT, followed by a powerslam for two. Kojima theatrically rips off his right elbow pad and hits the ropes, a momentum snapped back by a counter Slingblade. Both men struggle to their feet as Red Shoes steps between them to consider a count. He backs away as both men rise, flinching at the sight of Tanahashi’s arms blocking a lariat aimed for the kill.

Tanahashi sneaks in a basement dropkick, followed by one of my personal favorites, the Dragon Screw Arm Whip. And another! Another basement dropkick bangs into Kojima’s chest, leaving him screaming and clutching at his heart. Tanahashi spots the opening, zipping to the top rope for a High Fly Flow, but a pair of knees breaks his fall. He gets Kojima’s back after flipping out of suplex, his legs working tirelessly to push Kojima into the ropes and use the bounce-back for a bridging roll-up. Red Shoes dives into position, his hand striking twice before Kojima kicks out. Now we’re talking.

Kojima kicks out of a backslide, but gets planted with a Falcon Arrow! Tanahashi hits another Dragon Screw Arm Whip, providing us with the amazing visual of Kojima face down on the mat and out like a light from the arm-centric move. Tanahashi heads up top, leaping off with a High Fly Flow that lands across Kojima’s back. As Kojima flips to his back, Tanahashi hustles back up top and rockets skyward with another High Fly Flow, his insane hang time burned in a belly landing when Kojima rolls out of the way seconds before impact.

As Tanahashi scrambles to his feet, Kojima calls for a lariat, unleashing a fierce sickle to the back of Tanahashi’s head! He scoops him up, leaving Tanahashi vertical for a beat before driving his skull to the canvas with a brainbuster! Red Shoes lays out for the pinfall, left racked in astonishment as Tanahashi just manages to escape disaster! Kojima calls for another lariat, whipping Tanahashi into the ropes to build up steam for maximum explosion. But Tanahashi counters, sliding behind Kojima with his arms locked up in a full nelson. Kojima blocks a Dragon Suplex attempt, but Tanahashi counters with a Bridging Straitjacket Suplex. Red Shoes is back down for the count, his hand pulling back at 2 ¾ as Kojima kicks out to a raucous explosion that leaves Tanahashi searching the ceiling for an answer!

Kojima blocks another Dragon Suplex, countering with a stunner as both men are left heaving in oxygen on the mat. Red Shoes, the ruthless bastard that he is, counts loudly to hurry both men to their feet. Tanahashi is up first, again sliding behind Kojima for a Bridging Dragon Suplex. 1, 2, no sir! He hits another Dragon Screw Arm Whip, leaving Kojima holding the limb as The Ace hits his stride. He sprints back at full speed, that same stride swallowed whole by a wrecking ball lariat that snaps his neck back! Kojima covers with Unno quick on the draw. 1, 2, Tanahashi kicks out as Red Shoes flops onto his back in a fit of exhaustion! This is awesome!

As Tanahashi begins to rise, Kojima hits the ropes for a headshot. Tanahashi ducks, but spins slowly while trying to keep up with the path. The kill shot connects with a nasty thud, absolutely leveling Tanahashi with so much force that an ocean spray of sweat and spit cascade through the air! Kojima covers quickly, leaving little doubt to Red Shoes’ count as Tanahashi barely budges.

Winner: Satoshi Kojima

After the match, we get a montage of Kojima being handed five trophies – one by a race car driver – and also a flag while a man holding a giant 10,000,000 Yen check looks on with a somewhat confused look on his face. What in the hell is this all about? It looks like Kojima’s having a garage sale there’s so much clutter in the ring. He gives an impassioned speech after the parade of gifts, ending with a triumphant spike of the mic as a torrential downpour of gold confetti washes over the hard camera. F—ing awesome.

Impressions: Do you like rest-holds? If so, the first twenty and change are for you. That portion of the match was tremendously boring, albeit necessary when the match picked up as Kojima’s damaged arm came into play multiple times. So with that said, great storytelling if not a touch dry. The second half of the match was terrific. Those two crazy bastards put on a show, with Kojima’s powershots putting Tanahashi in a constant state of desperation where he had to counter damn near everything just to create an opening. And that backflip crash onto the apron was just insane to watch. Obviously, the guy wasn’t going to backflip to the floor, but I suspect his neck wasn’t meant to take the brunt of the fall either. Nasty business. But overall, we’re off to a good start. Feel free to skip the first twenty minutes and you’ve got yourself a stellar match that hopefully sets the tone for what’s to come.

Reticulating Splines (The video below contains NSFW language)

Next Week: Scene Missing Thanks to NJPW World & The Birth of Kojima-Gun

A Friendly Game of Mishegoss

Boy, the NFL preseason sure is fun, isn’t it? I know it’s a necessary evil, but the bodies just pile up before the games that matter even begin. So long, Spencer Ware. Thank you for your service, Julian Edelman. Until next year, Cameron Meredith.

Yeah, yeah, I know that Kareem Hunt and Brandon Cooks/Danny Amendola/Chris Hogan/James White/Malcolm Mitchell/Any Patriot Really just received a gargantuan opportunity because of the injuries to Ware and Edelman, but in order to keep Jordan Howard chugging along, Chicago did need a perceived threat if/when Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky are given the all-clear to throw. And that’s where we’re left as far as fantasy football goes in Chicago. Who are they going to throw to?

Look, Chicago’s defense is going to be bad, so that means negative game script. The Bears could conceivably just hand it off to Jordan Howard when they’re in garbage time, but that’s typically a job for the receivers. And sometimes, just sometimes, those garbage time receivers can hook you up during the bye weeks. So let’s see what we have:

Kevin White – The former first-round pick two seasons ago has had more injections than targets during his brief career. That said, he is 6’3” 215 lbs. with a 4.35 40-yard dash. Those aren’t bad measurements when predicting who could be the benefactor of Meredith’s misfortune. But alas, he’s always injured. Did you know that his Best Comparable on PlayerProfiler.com is Breshad Perriman? Hmm, what do those two have in common? And yes, I kind of believe the story that he was shown footage of his college days in an effort to remind him that he used to be good.

Kendall Wright – Oh, there was a time when Wright looked like he was going to be a superstar. It was forever ago in football terms, but it was there. I think he’s going to be moved around the field quite often to create opportunities, but figuring out the weeks he’s going to pop will be frustrating.

Victor Cruz – The Pre-OBJ freight train that is Victor Cruz. Man, if his story doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about how quickly injuries can take it all way then I don’t know what will. Will he ever be back to his old form? Of course not. The SOB is lucky to still be able to make a living playing football. Although I do think he is capable of manning the slot and wiggling free for short to mid-range balls, enjoy predicting the weeks we’re going to see the wiggle. Sounds a lot like Kendall Wright’s situation, no?

Markus Wheaton – Nope.

Tanner Gentry – Come on.

F—, that’s a bare cupboard. For those who have drafted, I hope you grabbed White late. For those who haven’t drafted yet, keep an eye on the practice reports and see if you can find something resembling a diamond in this rough situation. Honestly, I could see Chicago going to more two Tight End sets and just killing the clock four yards at a time – if they’re lucky. Although this is pretty much a situation to avoid, I’ll take a chance late in my upcoming draft. Kevin White, grab you best Toradol shot and get in there! Kendall Wright, pretend its 2012 and make it happen! Victor Cruz, just do your best! The rest of you…yeah, do whatever it is you’ve been doing on the sidelines.

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