Meltzer’s Classics: Tiger Mask II vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi

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Once again it’s hard to find pictures from this match.

Our next Meltzer’s Classic match features yet another Tiger Mask, this time Tiger Mask II who takes on Kuniaki Kobayashi for the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship. It also continues the theme of all of these matches happening in Japan.

To continue the continues, it is another match which even as someone coming in with no context and unable to understand the commentary, feels personal. Kobayashi comes out of the blocks at a thousand miles per an hour and takes Mask to the outside before launching him through the ringside barrier. It’s one hell of an aggressive start and gets this match hot straight away.

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So here’s Kobayashi dishing out some pain.

When it returns to the ring, we get to see some of Tiger Mask’s acrobatics when he takes control, but there’s also some lovely chain wrestling between the two. It slows the pace down after that electric start but has enough of Mask’s athleticism to make sure it doesn’t get boring.

This match is an interesting blend of the two styles that we have seen so far in Japan in this series. Kobayashi’s offence consists of stiff kicks and submissions holds while Mask tries to create distance to take to the air. If you blended Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid together with Yamazaki vs. Takada, you wouldn’t be far off hitting this match.

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And here’s Tiger Mask II doing Tiger Mask stuff.

The only problem is that the two of them do spend a lot of time sitting in holds. It starts frantic and finishes frantic but the time in between is a bit forgettable. Mask hits a beautiful somersault senton to a standing Kobayashi at one point but when put next to the chaos of wrestling in 2016 it all seems a bit tame.

The finish comes from Kobayashi hitting two fisherman suplexes on Mask in a row to pick up the three count, and there is no denying that this is a good match. However, I think it’s the first one that has suffered compared to my modern-day expectations. These wrestlers pull off some extraordinary things, and I imagine at the time they were revolutionary, but when you’ve seen The Young Bucks do their thing, it doesn’t sparkle in quite the same way.

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