MATCH : Jun Akiyama v Kenta Kobashi

PROMOTION : Pro Wrestling NOAH

EVENT : Departure 2004

VENUE : Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

DATE : 10th July 2004

CHAMPIONSHIP : GHC Heavyweight Title

BACKGROUND : When Giant Baba passed away in 1999 he left his wrestling company, All Japan Pro Wrestling, to his widow Motoka Baba but a lot of the roster were unhappy with the direction Motoka was hoping to take the company. The biggest star in Japan at the time, Mitsuharu Misawa, decided to start his own promotion called Pro Wrestling NOAH and all but four of the AJPW roster would join him. On the very first NOAH show long time friends and former Tag Team champions Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi faced and beat their old rivals Akira Taue and Mitsuharu Misawa. After the match whilst celebrating the victory Akiyama attacked Kobashi declaring himself the new star of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Over the next few weeks Akiyama would defeat Kobashi until eventually he put him out of action for 18 months by attacking his knee. Now Kobashi was back and ready to get his revenge on Akiyama and he was fired up with momentum after winning the GHC Heavyweight Title against old foe Misawa. So would Kobashi get his revenge or would Akiyama put him out of action for good this time?

MATCH REVIEW : This match is nothing short of a master stroke of genius. A wonderfully layed out 35 minutes of pure emotion. The whole WWE roster and current booking team really could do with watching this match and the way it culminated through the years and study it because there is a lot to be learnt here. Kobashi and Akiyama both go down as two of the biggest legends that Japanese wrestling has ever had and the storytelling and ring psychology of this match shows exactly why. This match is a masterclass in professional wrestling and something that makes me proud to love the sport!