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Antonio Inoki vs. Strong Kobayashi (NJPW 3/19/74)

Antonio Inoki Strong Kobayashi NJPW 1973 March 19

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#1 Jetlag

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 02:11 PM

Strong Kobayashi, a rather troll-like looking wrestler (to put it mildly). Dude looked like a DNA experiment between Inoki and Baba. This was a rare early match between top natives and a hell of a fight. Basically Inoki bullies Kobayashi some and then gets his shit pushed in repeatedly. What a weird way to work a match against an outsider, but they did succeed in garnering tremendous heat. Inoki dominates the early going with a bunch of quasi-amateur holds which I dug a lot. He scored a really nice toe hold riding takedown and would constantly do leg rides and toe holds. After getting grinded for a while Kobayashi finally scored a simple arm roll which felt like a nice victory, but dickhead Inoki won't break clean in the ropes. Inoki keeps taunting and slapping Kobayashi between the holds and this is building tremendous intensity. Kobayashi is reacting to all this in really amusing exaggerated ways too. Finally, Kobayashi grabs a bear hug and just manhandles Inoki like a ragdoll. Inoki had pretty great facial expressions here, as he went from looking pained to annoyed to filled with contempt. Later on, when he had regained the upper hand he would look really smug and self satisfied. There was also a great moment where Inoki went for another back ride, only for Kobayashi to use his indicated by name strength to muscle up and reverse him into an awesome Cobra Twist of his own. Shozo smells blood and starts laying stiff clubbing blows to Inoki's neck, but as we learned from the Great Antonio's example Inoki does not take kindly to this and nearly KO's him with a huge punch in another awesome moment. Inoki is looking to finish this now with his grapevine moves but they end up on the outside and Kobayashi makes him eat a posting. Inoki is bleeding huge now and Kobayashi smells his chance going to town on him with punches. Really liked how a bloody Inoki would pop up with a smug grin after catching Shozo with a supex.


Man what a spectacular match. Molten heat, cool grappling, blood, punches, neat story, it's all there. Thought both guys did a great job here. Also, gotta give them credit for working a pretty long match that still leaves plenty on the table. I'm surprised this isn't mentioned more often among the best of the 70s bouts, I found it highly captivating.

#2 Edwin

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 08:37 AM

Annoyed, stiff, fist throwing, tight grappling Inoki rules and that's the Inoki we get here. Say what you will abut Inoki, but he packs a mean right hand and his head scissor was deep -- surprising Kobayashi didn't go to sleep. Inoki later loosened it up as it was blatantly choking Kobayashi. Kobayashi is no slouch either and withstands the brutalness Inoki brings and he also locks in some tight, gritty holds. The crowd was somewhat sitting on their hands, but they got hot once Inoki got bloodied up and Kobayashi just blasted the cut with right hands.


Great match with a nice slow build to a hot finish.


1970's New Japan is some underrated stuff.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Antonio Inoki, Strong Kobayashi, NJPW, 1973, March 19

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