Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
I like hearing other wrestling fans talk about their vanity dream cards. You get a glimpse into what the person values in pro wrestling and what he wishes there was more of in wrestling by who he chooses to be on his card, how he books the main event and so on. I have heard some really great and obscure matches and cards during these discussions that I wish actually got a chance to take place.
Fortunately for someone like Kenta Kobashi (and by extent, us wrestling fans), he can make his fantasy pro wrestling card a reality. While the card of Fortune Dream 1 is almost certainly not Kobashi’s true dream card – he was as handcuffed by certain logistical issues as anyone would be – it nonetheless gives you a glimpse into Kobashi’s vision of what pro wrestling should be.
Of all the matches on the card, the tag team main event likely captured that vision the best. For the most part, it is about what one would imagine a Kobashi-booked main event would look like. Perhaps not everyone would have guessed these specific four guys, but four big guys that hit each other hard and do a lot of fighting spirit spots wrestling to a 30-minute tag team draw? Yea, that sounds like the main event of Kobashi produced show.
This was a fun match that was not without its flaws. Sekimoto and Hindo engage in an epic struggle for chop supremacy throughout the entirety of the match. They really light each other up. My favorite part of the match was about halfway in when they wander over to the announcer’s table. Kobashi happens to be sitting in on commentary. Hindo and Sekimoto just kill each other with strikes for two minutes. They sell the impact of each blow but then always ask for more. While this is going on, the camera occasionally shows a delighted Kobashi simultaneously smiling and cringing at the beautiful display of brutality going on in front of him.
Set in a different context, that exchange and this match in general might have had me reaching for the stop button. On a Kobashi produced show with the main himself loving the action going on right in front of him, it worked perfectly.
The match goes to a 30-minute draw which once again feels like a booking situation Kobashi would make. They do an admirable job filling the first 20 minutes or so but the match does stumble to the time limit from that point on. To make matters worse, they added a 5-minute overtime period that did nothing to help the match. The overtime minutes don’t have much heat – the crowd was either over it by then or had figured out there wasn’t going to be a winner – and it feels tacked on. All four guys worked hard until the end but they just didn’t quite come up with enough to fill the entire 35 minutes.
I had seen little of Hindo (K-Dojo) prior to this match and came away impressed. He managed to do the hard-striking/fighting spirit routine without getting bogged down in endless strike exchanges and without resorting to ridiculous levels of no-selling. His gimmick of constantly flicking off his opponents is great, too. There are two types of middle finger raisers – those that come off lame and passive aggressive and those that come off angry and dangerous when their middle finger is in the air. Hindo falls into the latter category.
It probably goes without saying that this isn’t something that would be appealing on a regular basis but it was a fun – if too long – glimpse into the booking mind of Kenta Kobashi. If nothing else, I am interested in seeing what he does for an encore.
Japan Tag | Worthwhile | Quality & Booking