HTQ reviews Joe versus Kobashi
Without a doubt, this was the most anticipated match in ROH history, and the most high profile match in Independent wrestling for a very long time. On one hand, you had Samoa Joe who is the biggest star in ROH; no disrespect to Daniels. Danielson and others, but you can tell the fan consider Joe the top name, even if he doesn’t have a title. On the other hand, you have Kenta Kobashi, who is a bona fide legend in wrestling, and is one of the biggest names in Japanese wrestling both, past, present, and, as long as his knees hold up, the foreseeable future. When the match was first announced, there was an immediate buzz among hardcore wrestling fans over the first ever meeting between two of the most physical and hard hitting wrestlers in the sport today. People were speculating that this match had the potential to be a Match of the Year candidate, with some even saying there was no chance this could be anything less than great.
With such high expectations going into this match from the fans, and both Joe and Kobashi putting a lot of pressure on themselves to produce the quality of match to meet those expectations, would the match live up to all of that?
The match itself had an electric atmosphere from the beginning, as you would expect, with the fans going crazy pretty much from the moment Joe was introduced and not stopping. The people were standing all through the introductions, and I don’t think anyone sat down until the match actually started. Kobashi, like every major Japanese name before him in ROH, got the streamers, but in a nice touch, was announced the same way he would be in Japan, with his surname first.
The match began with the expected slow build, and the first key spot was in the first minute or so when Joe knocked Kobashi down with a running elbow and Kobashi rolled to the floor and backed up. That one spot, as simple as it sounds, immediately put Joe over as a threat to the legendary Kobashi because Kobashi showed that he had to take a second, back up, and think things over before trying to take on Joe again. The building of Joe continued for the early portion of the match, with Joe knocking Kobashi to ringside area again and busting out his huge top dive and sending Kobashi, and himself, crashing into the security barrier.
While on the floor, Joe pulled out his Ole kick, but in a nice twist, when he tried a second one, Kobashi blocked it and even did what was almost a mini-Ole chop, which I know I got a kick out of and the people liked a lot.
Back in the ring, the match was very physical, and we got the expected, and much anticipated, exchange of chops, which was typically hard hitting. It didn’t look contrived and was as well executed as the same style of exchange would be between Kobashi and Kawada, and even looked like that in some ways but with Joe getting knocked down at the end of it which is usually the Kobashi role. The chops themselves were as hard hitting as you would think, with Joe’s shoulder looking all bruised up.
The match itself played out as a NOAH match, with lots of hard strikes and blows, and a few very dangerous looking suplexes, all of which Joe took. Don’t think, though, that Kobashi didn’t take his lumps, because he took a powerbomb into the turnbuckles, which he sold tremendously.
The finish itself saw Joe survive a brutal looking sleeper suplex, a series of stiff looking backhand chops, before finally going down to Kobashi’s signature running lariat.
The fans popped for the finish, and as both Kobashi and Joe were down from exhaustion, which wasn’t selling after that match, they gave both men a standing ovation. When Kobashi and Joe were finally able to get to their feet, Kobashi walked over to Joe and offered a handshake and both men shook hands a big ovation and more applause from the fans, who hadn’t sat down since match had finished. And they still wouldn’t sit down, and both Kobashi and Joe got standing ovations as they, slowly, walked to the back, with Kobashi walking off ahead of Joe, and the final scene was of Joe at the curtain turning around to acknowledge the reaction of the fans who were still applauding him.
So, after all of that, does this match live up to the hype of being *****?
Absolutely it does. This match was a tremendous story. As much of a star as he is in ROH, Kobashi is a much bigger star on an international scale, but Kobashi completely put Joe over as his equal and made Joe look like he was on the same level as him, and that Joe more than belongs in the same ring as Kobashi. Had this match been Joe’s debut in NOAH, I guarantee that Joe would have been made an instant superstar with how Kobashi sold for Joe and put him over, because this match was the perfect example of putting a guy over huge while still winning. This is the kind of match that a superstar should have with a guy when he wants to make him a star. I can’t emphasize this part enough. Everything else about this match was off the charts; the selling was great, the facial expressions were tremendous and added so much to the story, the fans were so into this it was insane. This match is easily the ***** that people have said it was, and I cannot encourage people enough to watch this match.