Looking Back Puroresu Reviews

DVDVR 1001 Matches #3: Koji Kanemoto vs. El Samurai (NJPW 6/5/97)

To those uninitiated the much respected website Death Valley Driver Video Review is putting together a list of 1001 matches to see before you die called the DVDVR 1001. This is my project where I am reviewing every match in the DVDVR 1001, continuing with #3,

This is the Final Match in the Best of the Super Junior IV.

Koji Kanemoto is not a fellow, a gal, or a guy as the case may be, you would want to bring home to meet the parents. He’s a good looking chap, well built, and all that jazz. On the other hand he is like King Prick on an island full of pricks. He’ll slap you in the face, kick you in your injured leg, lock you in a Kneebar, and then for good measure give you the bird while you are writhing around in pain. Those are not the actions of a “bring home to meet mum and dad chap.” They are the actions of an asshole, a glorious asshole, but an asshole nonetheless.

Kanemoto’s brutality and absolute manhandling of Samurai is what this match should be remembered for, though I’m not sure if it will. The Avalanche Reverse Frankensteiner where El Samurai is reduced a couple of inches in height and the spirited comeback of the now shorter Samurai are what most will remember. Or maybe I’m wrong, heck, I hope I’m wrong. Because this is a match where Kanemoto gives a master class in how to work over a limb and be a complete dick all at the same time.

The best moment in the match may be when Samurai goes for a Frog Splash, realizes Kanemoto has moved, and in a moment of panic draws his knees up so that he comes crashing down on them. When he grabs his knee he manages to express, through a mask mind you, not just pain but an absolute feeling of “Oh shit, what is he going to do to my knee?” It really is a fabulous moment, and the limb work that follows is top shelf. What I loved most about it was how Kanemoto would counter moves from Samurai and slide right into some sort of submission on the injured knee. He could have hit numerous highspots throughout the match, but each and every time Kanemoto would counter, slip down, grab the injured leg, and latch on a different submission. The fans grew louder with each attempt, and I loved watching two guys work the mat versus just throwing out spots.

The ending of the match does leave a bit to be desired. It’s not bad, and I could even buy the argument that a pissed off Kanemoto has decided he has to beat Samurai with some sort of bomb and that’s why he’s not targeting the leg anymore. In the end though, I don’t believe that, and the match suffers considerably because the final few minutes turn into your typical, “Big move, kickout, big move, kickout, lather, rinse, repeat” affair. Kanemoto versus Samurai was much better than its final few minutes, though I am sure a large chunk of wrestling fandom loved said final few minutes.

Kanemoto versus Samurai is still a great match. The ending stretch isn’t even bad, it’s just misguided. But, everything that comes before the ending stretch is, well, awesome. The leg work from Kanemoto, the selling from Samurai, Jushin Liger being the best corner man possible, it’s all really freaking great. The wheels come loose, but they never fall off, and that’s why this is a match that people need to see.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

About the author

Bill Thompson

I am the almighty Bill Thompson, father of a little girl, husband to an awesome wife, a paramedic/firefighter, and a fan of the Chicago Cubs. I've been writing about wrestling for some time now. You can find me writing about great matches at Blue Thunder Driver, or matches people have suggested I watch at Random Match Generator. I write about free matches legally available to watch online at Free Pro Wrestling and am a contributor to the Cubed Circle Newsletter. I'm also the Senior Writer for the magazine/website The Tag Rope. I'm happy to be on the Wrestling with Words ship, and have I mentioned I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs? Cause I am, like huge, as in they are my #1 priority. Just making sure we're on the same page...

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