MATCH : El Samurai v Koji Kanemoto


EVENT : Best of the Super Juniors

VENUE : Budokan Hall, Tokyo

DATE : 5th June 1997

Background : This was the final of The Best of the Super Juniors tournament which had been taking place over the last month. The tournament this year had 14 competitors who had been split up into two groups of seven. The winner of each group would go on to face each other in the final and those two were El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto. El Samurai had been entered into the tournament over the last 5 years and had the most experience of the two having won Championships in Japan, Mexico and USA already in his career. Kanemoto on the hand had less experience but what he lacked in experience he could make up for in pure brutality. Kanemoto had also a very succesful start to his career with Championship wins in both Japan and Mexico. Up to this point both men had won 5 of their previous 6 tournament matches.

MATCH REVIEW : This is one of the stiffest matches I have ever seen in professional wrestling and is definitely well worth the watch. To me this is the best NJPW match of all time and it showed the depth in class they had on the roster. The tournament in a whole is a great watch and to finish off with such a terrific final was very special for NJPW. The company really showed the way forward for a lot of wrestlers who didn't have the size adavntage that was really needed to make it in the USA and proved that the future was bright for wrestlers such as Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero. The wild Japanese crowd also made this match a classic as they ate through every second of it. Only a month after this match, El Samurai would go on to further glory by defeating Jushin Liger for the Unified J-Crown which at the time consisted of 7 Junior Heavyweight Titles.