365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Thanks to the advent of streaming services in recent years, American wrestling fans have more access to Japanese wrestling than ever. One company that still flies a bit under the radar is Big Japan Pro Wrestling, which features both a strong style division and a death match division. Big Japan holds an event almost every January 2, and in this installment, we’re firing up the main event from Big Japan’s January 2 event in 2013, with Abdullah Kobayashi defending the promotion’s Death Match Title against Shuji Ishikawa in a New Year Death Match. You can watch this match on IWTV.
I’m not familiar with either of these guys so I thought some brief context would be helpful. Abdullah the Butcher helped train Kobayashi and Kobayashi looks like the Japanese version of that icon. Ishikawa’s got a significant size advantage, but Kobayashi has held the title for more than a year and successfully defended against Ishikawa in May of 2012. At the contract signing, Ishikawa jumps Kobayashi, stuffs him into a port-a-potty, pants him and sprays window cleaner on and up his ass (Yes, really).
The stage is set with the usual plunder in a match of this type but some other elements that fit the theme of the Japanese new year:
–Kobayashi comes to the ring with an orange tied to the top of his head, which represents the continuation of family.
–There’s a glass version of Kadomatsu, a plant decoration that Japanese tradition believes to be the temporary dwelling place of gods, propped ominously in one corner. Japanese families keep it outside their home until January 7, then burn it on the 15th, but this version gets destroyed when Kobayasahi obliterates Ishikawa with it.
–Ishikawa busts out a Kagami Mochi, which is a New Year’s decoration made of two round rice cakes. The version here contains, well, something sharp that lacerates Ishikawa quickly and profusely once Kobayashi shoves it into his head.
Both men waste little time making for the plunder, building to a spectacular moment where Ishikawa lays a pane of glass against three propped chairs and scales the ropes, only to get superplexed through the glass himself. After exhausting the supply of weaponry, champion and challenger resort to trading strikes — including several shoot-style headbutts — in an exchange that makes Kobayashi look more formidable than anything else in the match to this point. Ishikawa gets the better of the champ, though, and finishes it with a splash off of the top rope.
Final Rating: 5.8
Death match wrestling is more prominent than ever in the U.S. I’ve certainly seen some great death matches through the years, and some that were just awful. This battle fell in the “good” range for me. Having an invested crowd certainly helped. Ultimately, if you like death match wrestling, you’ll like this. If you don’t like death matches, just skip it.
We make our first (but definitely not our last) foray into the grab bag of bizarre matchups that embodied WCW C-shows in the late 1990s.
Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.
Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.
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