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One thing I want to mention about the match as I just watched it again too. V3 didn't just go rudo for no reason, he was being bitched at by Atlantis and the ref for I think not breaking a hold in the ropes fast enough, which is such a perfect note to go rudo on, "okay you fuckers if you're gonna bitch at me for being in the ropes I'll show you what this is about". Such a neat way to transition. 

There are probably a lot of matches to contest this one but they ain't beating it. First one that comes to mind is Yamakawa/Honma.

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"Matches aren't bell to bell" is a perfect way to include all the festivities, pre- and post-match. And they are a gargantuan part of it.

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Low-key challenger is Edge and Christian vs. The Hardys at Unforgiven in a cage. Those two teams are remembered for their ladder matches (and the TLC at Summer Slam of this year is indeed a brutal spotfest that holds up to today's standards), but this was such a nice feud-defining match for both teams with real focus on character work and heat-building before getting to the big payoff spots. They replace the hot tag trope with Jeff leaving the cage too early and desperately trying to get back in before E&C can double team Matt to death. Lita gets involved towards the end and it feels like the only real triumph the Hardys ever had E&C once they actually became E&C (that Brood/new Brood shit doesn't count). The whole match is a neat little fusion of Crockett-era tag work and attitude-era spotfests.

Also, there's the Misawa/Akiyama match in February, from what was basically AJ's last hoorah before the NOAH split. One of my favorite Akiyama performances as he goes from the blue chipper who couldn't win the big one in AJ to the surly NOAH ace in one match. After 5 minutes of being out-classed by Misawa like every match before, Akiyama is like "Nah, this time I'm just gonna break your fucking neck." The last 20 minutes is basically NOAH Akiyama having his way with a wounded prey, finally subverting the AJ cliches of their previous matches. Misawa, of course, was not shy about leaning into the neck bumps to sell the story.

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For context, here's what Meltzer had as 2000's MOTYs in the awards issue.

Quote

MATCH OF THE YEAR

1. ATLANTIS VS. VILLANO III 3-17 MEXICO CITY (145) 1,132

2. HHH vs. Mick Foley 1-23 Madison Square Garden (97) 844

3. Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian vs. Hardys 8-27 Raleigh (76) 634

4. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kensuke Sasaki 10-9 Tokyo Dome (73) 590

5. Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka 6-25 Tokyo (33) 486

6. HHH vs. Mick Foley 2-27 Hartford (39) 412

7. HHH vs. Chris Jericho 7-23 Dallas (40) 397

8. HHH vs. Rock 5-21 Louisville (34) 338

9. Chris Benoit vs. Steven Regal 5-25 Cincinnati (48) 271

10. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi 4-11 Kanazawa (15) 219

Honorable Mention: Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada 1-17 Osaka 201, Kenta Kobashi vs. Takao Omori 4-15 Tokyo 146, Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian vs. Hardys 4-2 Anaheim 130, FBI vs. Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri 8-26 New York 119, Rock vs. Chris Benoit 7-23 Dallas 64

 

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Akiyama/Kobashi is my NOAH pick. Brutal match with the most final ending of maybe anything ever.

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The DVDVR best of Japan poll for that year had Kawada/Fuchi vs Nagata/Iizuka as its MOTY, with Sasaki vs Kawada just a hair behind, followed by Akiyama vs Misawa and Akiyama vs Kobashi. They're all really excellent, but there was--and is--something uniquely compelling about a perfectly executed asymmetrically tiered tag in Japan, especially with company-versus-company heat.

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What I was pimping above

I forgot all about the two titanic Kawada/Sasaki encounters and don't even remember which is better, but whichever (both? I dunno) were in 2000 definitely deserve consideration.

My only complaint about the tag is that 

Spoiler

IIRC it ended in a draw. It makes sense, but it's a letdown.

 

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Only one of their two matches was in 2000–that year had an October dome show, then the rematch was January 4, 2001–but the qualifying match is the better one, I think. Kawada also gets one of my favorite entrance pops ever. It’s loud, of course, but there’s something different about it, like the crowd can’t actually believe they’re about to see this. It’s almost more like a surprise Royal Rumble pop than an announced match.

That Akiyama/Kobashi match is so good, and it’s a shame their most famous match is primarily known as all-time high-profile argument about whether the wrong guy won. 

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Question about Kawada/Sasaki: the match wasn't for the IWGP title, right? At the end Sasaki appears to give away the title out of shame so did Kawada really get it or not? 

And it goes without saying that the castle belt is up there with one of the ugliest title belts ever

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Sasaki just vacated the title. There was then a tournament to determine the next champ, which Sasaki won, beating Kawada in the finals. 

 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

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Not really a bad idea, and we all know NJ loves their tourneys. And that card, which I coincidentally just read DEAN's review of, is pretty sweet: 

Quote
1 Kensuke Sasaki defeated Satoshi Kojima Singles match: IWGP Heavyweight Championship tournament quarter-final 16:33
2 Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Yuji Nagata Singles match: IWGP Heavyweight Championship tournament quarter-final 16:45
3 Koji Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka defeated Shinya Makabe and Tatsuhito Takaiwa Tag team match 18:02
4 Takashi Iizuka defeated Kendo Kashin Singles match 06:12
5 Kensuke Sasaki defeated Masahiro Chono Singles match: IWGP Heavyweight Championship tournament semi-final 11:28
6 Toshiaki Kawada defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan Singles match: IWGP Heavyweight Championship tournament semi-final 10:45
7 Keiji Mutoh and Shinjiro Otani defeated Jushin Thunder Liger and Manabu Nakanishi Tag team match 05:44
8 Riki Choshu wrestled Shinya Hashimoto to a no contest Singles match 15:20
9 Kensuke Sasaki defeated Toshiaki Kawada

Should I look up some of these? Also, why did Chono get a by here? I understand Kawada because he beat the champ, but Chono...

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I enjoy the whole card for being, by 1/4 standards, pretty tight and focused--but nothing is blow-away individually. If you search "Wrestling World 2001" on New Japan World, they've got each match, in order. That shouldn't be worth remarking on, but that site can be awfully difficult to navigate most of the time.

And I'm not sure why Chono got a buy; he didn't win the G1 that year, and he wasn't the previous champion. He was the last champion to vacate though, so there's a little something there, maybe.

I'm curious, because 2000 had one of the most famous and consensus best lucha matches ever--even or especially among cursory viewers--if there's anything else worth tracking down? It's probably a bit too easy to watch that one match, figure you've seen the best, and move on.

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My pick for a dark horse challenger:

You've got a number of things going on here. It's the main event of All Japan's first post-split Budokan show. It's the return of the prodigal son Tenryu after a decade. It's an almost-rematch of the 1988 RWTL final. It's Stan Hansen's last great match. It's by far the best thing Taiyo Kea has ever been involved with. Check it out.

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Love that match. The powerbomb Kawada hits at the end is one of the hurtiest looking powerbombs of all time.

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Triple H vs. Cactus Jack at the Royal Rumble is my pick.

Honourable mentions:

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Super Crazy. Mexican Death Match. ECW on TNN.

Triple H vs. Chris Jericho. WWF Fully Loaded.

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Psicosis. ECW, August.

One of the FBI vs. Unholy Alliance matches from August.

Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian vs. Hardys. WWF SummerSlam.

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I wouldnt vote for it over Atlantis/V3 but I was at the Pillman show with Regal vs Name Redacted and that was also something that benefited from the atmosphere and such.

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23 minutes ago, odessasteps said:

I wouldnt vote for it over Atlantis/V3 but I was at the Pillman show with Regal vs Name Redacted and that was also something that benefited from the atmosphere and such.

Never got round to seeing it before what happened and won't do as I've not watched any of his since.

Edited by The Natural

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On 8/30/2018 at 8:53 AM, Beech27 said:

I enjoy the whole card for being, by 1/4 standards, pretty tight and focused--but nothing is blow-away individually. If you search "Wrestling World 2001" on New Japan World, they've got each match, in order. That shouldn't be worth remarking on, but that site can be awfully difficult to navigate most of the time.

And I'm not sure why Chono got a buy; he didn't win the G1 that year, and he wasn't the previous champion. He was the last champion to vacate though, so there's a little something there, maybe.

I'm curious, because 2000 had one of the most famous and consensus best lucha matches ever--even or especially among cursory viewers--if there's anything else worth tracking down? It's probably a bit too easy to watch that one match, figure you've seen the best, and move on.

CMLL went on a nice run with three ppvs.  Each show had one to three MOTYC.  The first one had the excellent V3/Atlantis mask match.  The 8/4/00 ppv had both a super fun cibernetico  8-on-8 elimination match and another Lucha MOTYC in Villano 3 teaming with Mr. Niebla  against the up-and-coming duo in Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero.  

The 12/15/00 ppv had an excellent trios match pairing the awesome Los Laguneros.vs  Los Villanos

 

Edited by Ryan Faulconer

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Go figure this comes back up right after I watched another Phil comp that had a ton of 2000 shit on it, like Kawada/Tenryu and Chiggy/KAORU. 2000 was a good year.

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