Features

Match Reviews: 5 Famous Under-15-Minute Matches (Angle/Eddie, Styles/Naito, Undertaker/Punk, more)

wwe summerslam 2004 eddie guerrero kurt angle

One of the most disappointing trends I’ve noticed lately is how too many wrestlers go long just for the sake of it. They think that if they pad a match’s length then every fan will think the same thing: that somehow ‘these wrestlers are great athletes for lasting so long’. But that isn’t always true.

Those “padded” matches often have lots of downtime and dead air that leads to bad pacing and less engaged fans. In other words, going long doesn’t always work. In fact, sometimes keeping things short and simple is a better direction. That’s where these matches come in.

Once again, I’ve found five under-15-minute matches from around the world. I’m looking at these matches to see if the less patient fans out there can find some matches to enjoy as well. After all, most of the matches I’ve reviewed so far, especially for my 5 Star Match Reviews series, have been on the longer side. So let’s take a look at some matches from the other side so that some readers can get more variety for the same amount of time.

5. CM Punk vs. The Undertaker – Hell In A Cell 2009

Background: Punk won the World Heavyweight Championship from Jeff Hardy at SummerSlam, but his moment of glory was ended prematurely by a returning Undertaker. A month later at Breaking Point in Montreal, Punk retained the title from ‘Taker via screwjob courtesy of then-SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long reiterating the ‘ban’ on Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate submission hold. ‘Taker got his revenge on Long soon afterwards and then earned the right to face Punk inside his favorite structure, Hell in a Cell.

The match: This is for Punk’s World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker no-sells Punk’s punches so Punk cowers backwards and then escapes from the ring. ‘Taker avoids getting stomped upon re-entry, drags Punk out, and smashes him into the cell wall. He manhandles Punk with ease and then boots him off the apron back into the cell wall again. Punk crawls under the ring to another side and dropkicks the steel steps into ‘Taker’s legs. Punk takes advantage with leg stomps and smashes ‘Taker’s knee into the cell wall. He tries to smash it into the ringpost but ‘Taker kicks Punk into the cell wall first. Undertaker goozles Punk but Punk kicks him back. Punk hits a running kneelift and goes for some facebuster from the apron but Undertaker throws him to the floor instead. and despite the pain in his leg, Undertaker lands his famous apron guillotine leg drop Undertaker tosses Punk into the ring but Punk dropkicks ‘Taker and then lands a suicide dive through the ropes.

Back in the ring, both wrestlers start punching each other while on their knees. there’s a yay/boo exchange and ‘Taker regains control easily. Punk escapes snake eyes but ‘Taker still lands his follow-up big boot/leg drop combo for a two-count. Punk kicks ‘Taker’s bad leg to avoid a chokeslam and goes for the GTS. Undertaker tries a Tombstone but Punk escapes and dropkicks ‘Taker’s knee again. Punk grabs a steel chair and whacks ‘Taker in the head with it for another two-count. Punk hits a corner kneelift but Undertaker follows with a Last Ride powerbomb. One, two, Punk kicks out. Undertaker goes for Old School on one leg but Punk easily counters into a kneelift. Punk hurts his own knee in the process but he still crawls over for a cover. One, two, Undertaker kicks out. Twice. Frustrated, Punk charges with the chair in hand…but Undertaker boots the chair into Punk’s face. Undertaker follows up with a successful chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver. One, two, and three! That’s it! Undertaker beats Punk to win the title!

Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion after 10:24: The Undertaker

Review: Disappointing and underwhelming match for several reasons. The first of which is the alleged backstage nonsense that led to this being such a one-sided affair. It’s widely believed that Punk disrespected Undertaker by refusing to follow ‘Taker’s advice and ‘dress like a champion’ (i.e. nicely) while abroad. And since Undertaker is basically the godfather of American pro wrestling, such dismissal was seen as defiance/disrespect, and so Undertaker had to humble Punk by cutting his title reign short. Maybe that’s true, maybe not; most of these stories probably come from a guy named Schrödinger anyway. But what is certain is that this match failed to deliver. There was no need for it to take place inside HIAC. The cell barely played a part in the match in any way beyond some generic ‘throwing’ bumps early on. Neither wrestler did anything unique to make this into an important cell match, nor did they give the cell any major psychological or storyline purpose. The steel chair played a bigger role in the match than the cell did yet this was not marketed as a ‘Hell on a Chair’ match. And then, of course, there was the squash nature of the match. Punk barely got any offense in and spent ten minutes playing the cowardly heel selling for Undertaker while ‘Taker never got to a point where he was in any real danger. Even with Punk’s chairshots Undertaker was never put in a position of potential loss. He manhandled Punk without really breaking a sweat while Punk barely made a dent without relying on weapons. This match’s poor reputation is well-deserved and is a far cry from the entertaining HIAC match Undertaker was famous for.

Final Rating: **1/4

 

4. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero – SummerSlam 2004

Background: Eddie beat Angle to retain the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XX in 2004. Soon afterwards, Eddie lost the title to JBL while Angle was made into SmackDown’s General Manager while he recovered from neck surgery. An angle involving Angle was filmed in which the Big Show ‘chokeslammed Angle off a ledge and he was unable to wrestle again’. Angle was put in a wheelchair and became a villain that abused his power against those he hated and that had wronged him. Angle’s injury turned out to be a ruse, as he interfered in a steel cage match and cost Eddie the win. But Angle was dressed as a luchador and Eddie had pulled off his mask. It wasn’t until Angle was halfway up the entrance ramp did he realize that he was maskless and the whole world saw that he could, in fact, walk. As punishment for his deception, Angle was fired from his GM position, reinstated as an active wrestler, and booked to face Eddie at SummerSlam.

The match: The Toronto crowd is very pro-Angle here, despite him being the heel. Angle and Eddie do some great amateur grappling to start things off. They lock-up again and Eddie goes for Angle’s ankle but Angle blocks. There’s some more technical wrestling as Eddie lands a headlock takedown and Angle wrestles into a double wrist lock. Eddie lands an armdrag into an armlock but Angle wrestles into a rear waistlock and lands a German suplex. Then he lands an amateur-style takedown but Eddie counters with an ankle lock on Angle. Eddie manages to hold Angle back from reaching the ropes so Angle counters with a thumb into Eddie’s eye. That’s followed by an Angle Slam out of nowhere. Then Angle applies his own ankle lock. Eddie can’t escape so he rolls through and traps Angle’s ankle. Both men have simultaneous ankle locks on. But Angle’s is too powerful and Eddie’s forced to let go while Angle maintains his. Eddie gets a ropebreak but Angle waits until the count of four to let go. Then as Angle distracts the referee, his charge Luther Reigns boots Eddie’s head. Angle applies yet another ankle lock. Eddie tries raking Angle’s eyes to no avail. Eddie gets another ropebreak but Angle smashes Eddie’s ankle into the ringpost. Angle goes to capitalize but Eddie thumbs Angle’s eye out of nowhere. Then Eddie starts his comeback with chops. But Angle goes back to the leg, this time with a modified STF and then a grounded leglock. Eddie gloats over into a cross armbreaker with a pin.

Eddie starts brawling with Angle, and then Angle realizes that Eddie’s boot is untied. Angle does a drop toehold to counter an Irish whip and goes back to Eddie’s leg again. He applies an STF-style choke but Eddie fights out with a jawbreaker. Eddie ducks a clothesline and hits an Angle Slam of his own. The two recover on the mat and then trade punches once they get to a vertical base. Eddie drops angle with more punches and then lands the Three Amigos rolling suplexes. He goes to the top rope…but Angle cuts him off with an avalanche belly-to-belly suplex. Angle covers but only gets two. Angle Slam countered into a DDT by Eddie. Eddie flies with the Frog Splash…and hits the canvas. A second successful Angle Slam by Angle only gets two. Angle rips off Eddie’s untied boot and applies another ankle lock. Eddie throws Angle into the referee to knock him down. Eddie grabs the boot and hits both Angle and Reigns with it. The ref starts stirring so Eddie throws the boot down and sells like HE was hit. Classic Eddie. Eddie gets up and goes to the top rope. Frog Splash connects. One, two, Angle kicks out. Eddie goes towards the ref but Angle catchies Eddie’s ankle again. Eddie tries kicking Angle off but Angle won’t let go. Angle grapevines Eddie’s leg. Eddie taps. Angle wins, causing several fans to jump up and cheer.

Winner after 13:36: Kurt Angle

Review: Very underrated and underappreciated match that took place in front of a crowd that just did not give a damn. The only time anyone cared was at the beginning when they cheered for Angle, during Eddie’s trademark cheating spot, and during Angle’s closing ankle lock. The rest of the match might as well have taken place during COVID, it was so quiet. Which is disappointing because the actual wrestling was great. Eddie and Angle had great chemistry together. Both guys did some great technical wrestling to establish that they were evenly matched and then went straight to the story with constant finisher spam, finisher countering, and finisher stealing. That strategy might work with guys like Lesnar or Goldberg, but not these two. The big moves didn’t feel big or important. The only exception was Eddie’s cheating moment which was as funny as it was fitting given the circumstances. Still, Flair/Steamboat or Tanahashi/Okada this was not. It was a letdown, even though it had almost all the right moving parts.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

3. Tetsuya Naito vs. AJ Styles – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9

Background: Four months earlier during the 2014 G1 tournament, Naito pinned then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion styles. That pin earned Naito a title shot, but Hiroshi Tanahashi was already scheduled for a title shot against Styles before that. Styles lost the title to Tanahashi and so Naito had his scheduled match with Styles but not for any title. To remedy this situation, the winner of this match would become the new #1 contender. But there was more than that. right before Naito confronted Styles to setup this match, Yoshi Tatsu broke his neck on a botched Styles Clash. But instead of ignoring that, New Japan turned it into a storyline. They pushed Styles as a ‘killer’ and his Clash was soon feared as a legit dangerous move. Naito was also an aspiring babyface hero at the time, so he felt it was his responsibility to avenge Tatsu while also seeking personal glory.

The match: Styles attacks Naito from behind before the bell rings. He teases an early Styles Clash but Naito elbows out. Styles blocks a back body drop and tries the Clash again but Naito powers out and lifts Styles onto the apron. Naito charges but Styles dumps him to the floor. Naito dodges a quebrada from the apron and then hits a dropkick of his own from the same apron. Naito tosses Styles into the ring and hits a diving shotgun dropkick followed by his trademark corner sweep. He goes for the dropkick part of that combo but Styles catches his leg and smashes it into his shoulder. Styles starts working over Naito’s left leg and hits a knee crusher and various other moves targeting that same limb. Naito tries fighting back with elbows but Styles shits him down with stiff kicks to the leg. Styles applies a deathlock to ground Naito in place but Naito crawls to the ropes for safety. Naito kicks Styles back and starts an elbow exchange with him. Styles goes back to Naito’s knee, even as Naito blocks another knee crusher. But then Naito hits a tornado DDT and then a hiptoss after Styles tries another knee breaker.

Naito hits some running moves despite damage to his knee. Styles blocks a corner kick but Naito counters with a rope-hung neckbreaker for a two-count. Naito places Styles on the top turnbuckle but Styles head-butts out, blocks a charge with another head-butt, and then lands a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles goes for a suplex but Naito blocks it. Naito tries hitting his own but he can’t get enough power in his lift due to his weakened knee and that allows Styles to hit a Phenomenal neckbreaker for a two-count. The two trade waistlocks until Styles lands a German suplex/wheelbarrow facebuster and – wait, no, Naito counters with a victory roll but Styles kicks out. Naito follows with a German of his own and gets two yet again. he picks Styles up but Styles hits a KENTA rush but misses the final clothesline as Naito ducks and lands an enzuigiri. Styles reverses an Irish whip but Naito hits a flying forearm. Naito slams Styles and stats ascending the turnbuckle for his Stardust Press finisher. But Styles cuts him off and goes for a super back suplex. He pushes off but Naito lands on his feet and hobbles a bit. Naito charges towards Styles but Styles blocks and rolls into a calf crusher. Naito squirms around but manages to fight through the pain and get a ropebreak.

Naito fights Styles off as he grabs Naito’s leg and then lands a second enauigiri. Styles goes for a discus lariat but Naito counters with an uranage. Naito tries a German suplex but Styles powers out, only to get caught in a bridging dragon suplex instead. One, two, Styles kicks out. Naito tries his Gloria pumpandle Emerald Flowsion but Styles escapes and lands a Pélé kick followed by BLOODY SUNDAY! Shades of Prince Devitt. Naito blocks a follow-up styles Clash and dumps Styles to the floor. He uses that time to recover as Styles makes it into the ring by the referee’s count of nineteen. Naito hobbles over towards Styles but Styles shoves him into the apron. Naito takes advantage and lands his corner sweep/basement dropkick combo. He places Styles on the top rope and goes for a super Frankensteiner. But Styles blocks. And then traps Naito’s legs. Naito flails around but he can’t escape. And then Styles jumps. Second-rope Styles Clash. One, two, three! Styles beats Naito!

Winner after 14:25: AJ Styles

Review: This was fun for a short match. There was a good story with Styles teasing his deadly Clash early on and when Naito kept avoiding it Styles adapted and went after Naito’s knee instead. Styles dismantled Naito’s knee often and with force, with Naito selling it well sometimes yet still going for his explosive offense that required heavy use of those legs. It was a bit illogical and dumb to see him sell like he couldn’t walk one moment and then run, jump, kick, and dive seconds later. Still, the match had some cool counters, believable pin-falls and a solid amount of tension. Styles did great here as expected but Naito wasn’t on his level. I expected a bit more from him given the easy story Styles setup for him. But Naito failed to go the extra mile to really sell his struggle and his fighting spirit, which in turn left this match a bit on the underwhelming side.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

2. AJPW World Tag Team Championship Match: Burning (Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama) [c] vs. No Fear (Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori) – AJPW – October 30th, 1999

Background: Kobashi & Akiyama won the AJPW World Tag Team titles seven days earlier in a genuine 5-star classic. But they had no time to rest as they had hungry challengers already waiting for them in the form of No Fear. Both Takayama and Omori were rising stars while Akiyama was even closer to the top of the card and Kobashi was firmly established as a top guy. No Fear had also accomplished a major feat earlier in the year when they held both the primary and secondary tag titles in All Japan, effectively becoming the most dominant tag team in the company for a short period.

The match: This is for Kobashi & Akiyama’s AJPW World Tag Team Championships. Both teams are anxious to get started, to the point that the referee has to hold them back until the match officially starts. Kobashi tries holding Akiyama back but Akiyama rushes Omori and Takayama right away. He dropkicks both Omori and Takayama and lands a jumping knee on Omori as the bell rings. He lands a corner jumping knee and then tags Kobashi. They hit double-team shoulderblocks and Kobashi follows with double running kneelifts. Kobashi goes for a vertical suplex but Takayama kicks his back and goes after Akiyama with stiff knees as the crowd boos. Omori and Takayama double-team Kobashi with stomps and elbow drops and then stand on Kobashi’s throat.

Omori taunts the crowd as they chant Kobashi’s name and then he applies a chinlock. He drags Kobashi to his corner where Takayama lifts Kobashi off the canvas and hangman chokes him as Omori distracts the ref. Takayama tags in officially and lands some stiff boots that drop Kobashi. Kobashi gets up and fires back with chops and Takayama responds with forearms. Kobashi reverses an Irish whip and lands a big chop but Takayama tanks it and hits another boot. Takayama hits another flurry of stiff kicks and knees to Kobashi in a corner and then kicks Akiyama off the apron to further isolate Kobashi. Takayama stomps on Kobashi’s neck, kicks his back, and pins with his foot on Kobashi’s chest but Kobashi kicks out at one. Takayama responds with more kicks but now Kobashi starts hulking up Burning Spirit-style. He tries more kicks but Kobashi just tanks them like a boss. Then Kobashi catches Takayama’s boot and hits a nasty chop barrage that sends Takayama into a corner. Omori tries helping his partner but Kobashi chops him down as well. Kobashi hits some of the most brutal neck and rolling chops I’ve ever seen (and think about all that encompasses). It gets so bad that the referee tries stopping Kobashi but Kobashi throws the referee aside. Kobashi – the most righteous goody-two-shoes wrestler in All Japan – angrily shoves the ref. That’s how much malice he has towards Takayama.

Eventually, Kobashi’s own partner has to pull him away to his corner and tag himself in to prevent a loss. Akiyama tags in but Kobashi still wants to murder Takayama. But while Akiyama tries to calm Kobashi down, Omori dropkicks both of them. Akiyama tries hitting back but Omori drops him with an Ax Bomber lariat. Omori tags in as the legal man and shoots Akiyama into the steel ring barricade. Then he pulls off the ringside mats and DDTs Akiyama onto the exposed floor. Kobashi tries going after Omori but Omori reverses an Irish whip and sends Kobashi into the barricade as well. Back in the ring, Omori drops his knee across the back of Akiyama’s neck and then lands a piledriver for a two-count. He follows with a deep chinlock/sleeper and then tags Takayama, who lands a huge corner yakuza kick followed by a snapmare/running penalty kick combo. Then Takayama boots Kobashi off the apron to isolate Akiyama. Takayama lands a leg drop and pins with his foot on Akiyama’s chest but only gets two as he stares down a furious Kobashi. Both Takayama and Omori taunts Kobashi as the ref pushes Kobashi back into his corner. Omori tags in and hits a bunch of uppercuts and then Takayama holds Akiyama in place for Omori to hit another big boot. They drop Akiyama with double shoulderblocks and Takayama knocks Kobashi to the floor yet again. Takayama shoots Kobashi into the barricade as Omori drops Akiyama with a full nelson slam. Omori follows with a diving elbow drop but only gets a two-count. Then No Fear drop Akiyama with a double tossing Razor’s Edge. One, two, Kobashi saves Akiyama and brawls with Takayama. No Fear overpower him and send him back to the floor and then turn their focus back onto Akiyama. Takayama hits a corner boot and whips Akiyama into a forearm from Omori. Omori holds Akiyama in place for another Takayama boot but this time Akiyama slides out. Takayama boots his partner Omori instead. Akiyama tags Kobashi. He tanks a boot from Takayama and hits a flying shoulder tackle. Then he goes after Omori with machine gun chops and a corner jumping knee. he goes for a powerbomb but Omori powers out Omori goes for a wheel kick but Kobashi ducks and hits a spinkick/standing leg drop combo. Kobashi hits a powerbomb and goes for his signature half nelson suplex. Omori touches the ropes but Kobashi uses his foot to push them off to try and land the suplex. Omori fights out and lands a wheel kick and tags Takayama. Takayama lands a dropkick and locks in a sleeper to take Kobashi to the mat. Then Takayama switches to an armtrap crossface, only for Akiyama to save Kobashi. Omori throws Akiyama outside and then hits a front-and-back running lariat combo alongside Takayama on Kobashi.

No Fear follow with a back suplex/diving neckbreaker combo and Takayama goes for the pin. One, two, Akiyama saves Kobashi again. Akiyama hits both of No Fear with elbows and blocks a kick from Omori with a dragon screw leg whip. Takayama boots him down and hits a vicious kneelift to Kobashi’s gut. Then he signals the end. He goes for the Everest German suplex but Akiyama stops it. Takayama unloads with punches and then hits Kobashi with a running kneelift so stiff and vicious it might’ve broken some ribs. Takayama covers. One…two…thr – Kobashi survives. Takayama lands an overhead suplex and a corner jumping knee. Kobashi answers with a HUGE running lariat out of nowhere. Kobashi fires up and chops Omori to stun him long enough for Akiyama to drop him with an Exploder suplex. Kobashi picks Takayama up and smashes him into oblivion with a short range Burning Lariat. One, two, and three! The champions retain!

Winners and STILL AJPW World Tag Team Champions after 14:54: Burning (Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama)

Review: Easily one of the best under-15-minute tag matches you’ll ever see. It was much shorter than the typical 1990s All Japan tag matches but both teams packed a ton of action, story, and drama into such a relatively short timeframe. There was obvious tension between Kobashi and Takayama, which they parlayed into the match itself. Kobashi has always been a runaway freight train that hit brutally hard once he got going. But this match was special: Kobashi showed an aggression and at one point blatant disregard for the rules that seemed so out of-character for him. He was hell-bent on destroying Takayama, but Takayama and Omori took advantage of Kobashi’s fury and lack of mental clarity to weaken him almost to the point of losing. No Fear did an amazing job of isolating both Kobashi and Akiyama at different points. By doing so, they came across as credible threats to the titles. They came close to winning more than once, only for Kobashi to have this sudden comeback that caused the match to end out of nowhere. Takayama was felled a bit too easily and Kobashi’s successful three-count at the end came across as unearned. The match would’ve been even better if Kobashi took a bit more time to soften and weaken Takayama up, especially since Omori took way more damage in the match and Takayama was on offense way more than on defense. Still, the crowd was great, the action was solid, and all four wrestlers got the chance to shine here. Pretty good stuff all things considered.

Final Rating: ****1/4

 

1. Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 2020 – October 10th, 2020

Background: Apparently the 13th night of the 2020 G1 Climax had three of the best matches of the entire tournament, at least according to the Observer. Two matches on the same card were rated higher than 5-stars and this match almost reached the same level as well. This was something of a dream match pitting two of the biggest and toughest wrestlers in the company. On one side was Ishii, who stood 5’7, weighed 220 pounds and was known as arguably the toughest bastard in the entire company. On the other was Cobb, who stood 5’10, weighed 263 pounds and was a former Olympian and one of the strongest wrestlers in New Japan at the time. But could Cobb’s Olympic background and power advantage break through the iron wall that was Ishii?

The match: Ishii headlocks Cobb but Cobb carries him over to the ropes like he’s weightless. Cobb taunts Ishii and Ishii hits both an elbow and a shoulderblock but Cobb doesn’t move. The two start hitting more elbows and shoulderblocks and neither man budges. Eventually Cobb knocks Ishii down and sends Ishii into a corner but Ishii sidesteps. Ishii runs into a boot, Cobb ducks a clothesline, shoulder checks Ishii, and Ishii bounces back with a shoulderblock that knocks Cobb down this time. Cobb bounces back up, lands more elbows, and applies a headlock. Big mistake. Backdrop suplex by Ishii.

Ishii lands some stiff chops to Cobb’s chest but Cobb hits back with his own. Ishii tanks them and lands a nasty head-butt. And then hits mocking foot taps in the corner. Cobb tries hitting back with more strikes but Ishii doesn’t even flinch. More elbows from Cobb. Ishii hits a single chop to drop Cobb. Ishii does some uncharacteristic trash-talking and charges but Cobb catches his leg. Then Cobb hits a huge overhead capture suplex. Wow, Cobb launches Ishii across the ring. Cobb follows with some corner uppercuts and a running back suplex for a two-count. Ishii elbows out of a deadlift German suplex attempt and then charges…right into an awaiting Cobb who heaves him up for a suplex. But Ishii blocks and tries a suplex of his own. The two gladiators go back-and-forth until Ishii lifts Cobb up for a vertical suplex. Impressive. Ishii hits more chops but this time Cobb tanks them and asks for more. Another big mistake. Ishii answers with a chop-elbow combo. Cobb reverses an Irish whip and elbows Ishii but Ishii no-sells and the two go back-and-forth again. Cobb gets the upper hand and winds up for a big one but Ishii drops him first. He hits Cobb so hard he appears to hurt his own arm in the process. Ishii goes to lift Cobb up but the ref stops him to check to see if Cobb is even conscious. Cobb reverses a corner whip but Ishii bounces out and charges…and runs into an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Ishii fights up and hits a counter powerslam. Cobb powers up and goes for a clothesline. Ishii ducks and lands a German. Then Ishii charges for a lariat. Cobb ducks and hits an Exploder suplex. Ishii staggers to his feet and hits both an elbow and a head-butt. Cobb answers with an even harder head-butt. Both wrestlers collapse. The ref checks on Ishii to see if he’s conscious but Ishii fights on. Cobb hits a thrust kick followed by a deadlift karelin lift bridging German. He’s just manhandling Ishii at this point but Ishii still kicks out. Cobb goes for his Tour of the Islands finisher but Ishii blocks with a lariat. But Cobb doesn’t just stay standing; he lariats Ishii and lands a standing moonsault splash. One, two, Ishii kicks out.

Cobb tries his finisher again. Ishii escapes and hits an enzuigiri, damaging his leg in the process. Ishii hits a running lariat against the ropes. Cobb blocks a second one and head-butt before Ishii can connect with a discus version. Cobb charges and runs into another lariat. Ishii goes for his sliding lariat variant but Cobb catches him in an anaconda vise. Cobb goes to slam Ishii but Ishii escapes and lands a dragon suplex. Massive running lariat by Ishii. One, two, and Cobb kicks out. Ishii goes for his Brainbuster. Cobb escapes and lands a swinging backdrop suplex, only for Ishii to power up. The two wrestlers fight to their feet and trade more stiff strikes. Both go down off some nasty head-butts. Cobb gets up first and goes for a lariat. Ishii ducks and counters into a Brainbuster attempt. Cobb powers out but Ishii counters back with another head-butt. Ishii charges for another lariat, bad arm be damned. Cobb hits first with a thrust kick but Ishii no-sells and hits a lariat…that doesn’t even make a dent in Cobb. Cobb follows with a counter pop-up powerbomb and then a pop-up into a Tour of the Islands swinging powerslam. One, two, and three! Cobb pins Ishii!

Winner after 14:57: Jeff Cobb

Review: That was a very entertaining yet simplistic match. It was two monsters hitting each other as hard as possible. It featured little forethought and even less strategy. It was an exciting fight to the death between two powerhouses with one-dimensional strategies. But sometimes one needs a match like this that doesn’t require thinking and is all about explosive action and incredible toughness. Ishii followed his usual G1 formula of throwing savage bombs, hitting incredibly hard, and doing everything within his power to not let Cobb or anyone else see he was in pain. Ishii’s such a compelling wrestler because he often ends up fighting not only his opponent but his own body because he so adamantly doesn’t want anyone to see his opponent’s offense actually registering with him. So when a wrestler does make him wince or sell – as Cobb did here many times – it means so much more. It’s like punching a brick wall with your bare hands. You land blow after blow and do more damage to yourself yet you keep going. And once cracks start forming and the wall starts to vibrate, you look stronger and tougher because of your perseverance and tenacity. And Cobb was just as great here. He brought a different style to the match that made it so much better. Most of Ishii’s opponents were skinnier, lighter or (relatively) more fragile. Cobb was bigger, heavier, stronger, and apparently, tougher. Cobb played Ishii’s game and beat him at it. He manhandled and ragdolled Ishii with little effort. He tanked stiff hits just like Ishii does and matched Ishii’s explosiveness with his own. And best of all, they kept the pin-falls to a minimum and just built on whatever they landed on each other. in doing so, the few pins they did go for mattered a lot more. They were more believable since both guys had taken so much punishment. I have yet to see many Cobb matches but this was definitely one of his best. He showed he could hang with one of New Japan’s toughest wrestlers and proved that he was more than just another generic big man. Awesome match with tons of great action packed into just under fifteen minutes. Well worth the watch.

Final Rating: ****1/2

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.