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Attila The Hut

Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan from February 20, 2005 (IWGP vs. Triple Crown Unification Match)

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It's the pinnacle of "Tenzan Must Suffer" booking. It makes NO sense. It's a watchable, if overlong, match with drama, a good crowd and some real backstory and depth. It's dragged down by the runner-up Most Godawful IWGP Title Change Finish Ever (nothing beats Fujita/Kensuke). I remember preferring Kojima's broadway with Nakamura a few months later, not that the choice to run 60 minutes of Kojima/Nakamura in 2005 contains a molecule of logic, either.

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I never understood the booking of this match, or what was legit and what wasn't.  They went all that time only to do a finish where Tenzan's back goes out with mere seconds to go.  I could never find out if he legit gave out, or if they booked it that way.  Weird time for NJPW.

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I've been under the impression that the Tenzan collapse finish was legit,  If not, and that's how they booked a broadway... uh yeah.

 

I agree with most of the criticisms leveled at it, but I love this match.  When I was really into puro (and kinda "knew better"), this was probably still my favorite match of the 2000's.

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The version I had was that Tenzan legit couldn't continue due to dehydration. A shame because despite the result being a cornerstone of the IWGP/Tenzan chunder years I loved the idea both of a match ending eleven seconds from time and someone (/ a whole company) so plainly holding out for the bell.

 

In hindsight it's obvious. Draw is the safe choice for a double title match like this, this was Tenzan's first defence having already had two recent runs cut short, Nakamura going sixty with him next defence to prove that New Japan guys could go the distance etc. The 'greater' champion getting agro from colleagues, trying to roll to the outside and New Japan staff invading the ring to stall for time was never going to be in the script no matter the result.

 

 

Not shown here: Kojima deliberately dropping the IWGP belt on his way out and Nakamura flipping his shit in response. I remember at the time thinking it was the best acting job I'd seen in wrestling. Total bloodlust.

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