John LaRocca looks at the 2008 Champion Carnival finale – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Suwama.
Pro Wrestling is always evolving. Top stars are replaced by the new young guns. I started to think about Hiroshi Tanahashi from New Japan Pro Wrestling and Suwama from All Japan Pro Wrestling. Both men were once the “Ace” of their respective promotions and are now replaced. Tanahashi has relinquished his Ace throne to Kazuchika Okada and Suwama has relinquished his to Kento Miyahara.
Both Tanahashi and Suwama are both still very important athletes in their respective companies. They can still main event and draw and they can still put on great wrestling matches. But, natural wear and tear and age catches up to every athlete. Mother nature is undefeated. Japan is good about always looking toward the future and knowing when to move top stars down the card to make room for the next guy to carry the promotion.
I have watched both men put on great matches this summer. Even with a bicep tear, Hiroshi Tanahashi continues to put on high level quality matches in the NJPW G1 Climax tournament. Tanahashi has been unfairly criticized for not having the classic matches we’re used to. With injury, Tanahashi has to work smarter than ever to last in this gruelingly long tournament. Great workers work smart and Tanahashi is one of the greatest workers that I have ever seen.
Suwama recently challenged the current AJPW Triple Crown Champion Shuji Ishikawa in July. It was classic Triple Crown Championship match that had the crowd at Korakuen Hall on the edge of their seats.
As I was thinking of these two great athletes, I was reminded of a match between these two back in April of 2008. It was the finals of All Japan’s biggest tournament of the year; the Champion Carnival. At the time, both men were on the cusp of becoming their respective promotions’ aces. Since it was New Japan versus All Japan in the finals, Korakuen Hall was filled with both companies’ most passionate fans. This recipe made for a classic match.
I haven’t watched his match since 2008 and when it was over, I found myself wondering why don’t I watch this match at least once a year. It’s that good.
Tanahashi was playing full blown heel and he was fantastic. Watching Tanahashi back in 2008, you could see the greatness in him even then. He took his time and played to the crowd to draw heat at just the right times.
The weight of All Japan was rested on Suwama’s broad shoulders in this tournament. Tanahashi’s cockiness made fumes come out of his skull. Suwama is pretty stoic guy. Sometimes he doesn’t show much emotion, but here he couldn’t hold those emotions in. You could see Suwama feeling the energy from the All Japan fans rooting him on to defend the honor of All Japan.
That is what makes this match so great. It is the emotion that takes place in that ring for damn near thirty minutes. I don’t want to give a detail review of this match. I want you to press play above and experience this beautiful display of pro wrestling.
This match is worth your time. Sit back, relax and enjoy.