Between 1985 and 2003 Mitsuharu Misawa had 24 matches that Dave Meltzer gave his coveted 5 star rating to. Although Misawa is no longer the young man he was in his first 5 star match he manages to look realistically threatening to the more muscular and younger Kenta Kobashi in this bout.
Misawa actually wins a test of strength against Kobashi just minutes into the match and puts Kobashi into a submission. Although Misawa has a range of offense such as following up a dropkick from the top with a frog splash, he always goes back to focusing on the arm adding some good psychology to the match.
Misawa and Kobashi are also able to work the crowd by virtue of their chemistry. Moves as simple as a punch from Misawa at the six minute mark when Kobashi is running toward him get a nice pop. That is not to say the two shy away from harsher bumps. Around10 minutes in Kobashi hits a suplex variation on Misawa on the outside that just looks brutal. Good thing there is padding out there!
Outside of the caliber of these two wrestlers even the setup of the ring adds to the bout. At about fourteen minutes in Misawa takes a nice bump when Kobashi whips a DDT out on the entranceway. Aside from the bumps what also makes you feel the pain are all the shots and chops. These chopfest moments just scream strong style!
Misawa does a call back to his time as Tiger Mask II at about 20 minutes in with a Tiger Driver and scores a two count. Up until this point there has been no reliance on two counts to help the flow of the match. Now they are coming though as Misawa scores another two count with a Tiger Suplex and then yet another two count with one more Tiger Driver. Kobashi turns the tide by locking Misawa in a sleeper hold and then suplexing him down. An odd botch happens when Misawa comes off of a turnbuckle facing backward, but the fans are soon back into the match when Kobashi scores a lariat and gets a two count.
The two are soon going back and forth trying to suplex each other and Misawa comes away on top by suplexing Kobashi outside onto the entranceway. Misawa follows this up with a running jump over the top and tackles Kobashi down. Both are really showing the wear and tear from this match and need a moment to breathe until…Kobashi attempts a Tiger Driver on the entranceway. I don’t speak Japanese, but I could swear one of the commentators says, “holy crap!” Misawa is unable to get the move, but hits an even more devastating double underhook suplex off the entranceway onto the floor. The 20 count starts and goes all the way to 19 before both guys get back in the ring.
The two look really out of it and trade shots back and forth with some two counts thrown in. Both look exhausted, but neither can quite get the win. Misawa goes for one last Tiger Driver, but Kobashi sandbags him and back body drops him. The two run into each other in a lariat attempt that neither one had the energy to lift the arm for. They do the spot again, but this time Kenta is able to knock Misawa down. He gets a two. Kenta hits a suplex and gets…another two. The fans are really pumped and into the match now. Kenta finally is able to get Misawa into position for the Burning Hammer…and nails it! Kenta wins!