In May 2013, in front of seventeen thousand fans at the Nippon Budokan, wrestling legend Kenta Kobashi would retire from pro wrestling, pinning Kanemaru in the final match of his career. A year later, Kobashi announced that he would be producing his own independent shows under the banner ‘Fortune Dream’. Kobashi claimed his vision with these events was (and still is) to give young wrestlers new opportunities to challenge themselves and break down the boundaries between promotions. Since then the Fortune Dream events have gained quite a reputation for producing some brilliant wrestling, as arguably the best ‘produce show’ around. With that said lets take a (spoiler free!) look back at the very first Fortune Dream event.
8th June 2014 Fortune Dream 1
Hayato Mashita vs. Tamon Honda
A very short “nothing” match to start things here. Probably only exists because Kobashi perhaps wanted Honda on the card, which considering how well the rest of the card turns out, we really can’t begrudge him for.
Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Meiko Satomura
It’s not what you do, but as these women show, how well you do it. Everything here, from the strikes to the headlocks, is done with the intensity turned up to eleven, as two of the best women’s wrestlers in the world give us our first great Fortune Dream match. Satomura controls for slightly longer stretches then Matsumoto, but its pretty much back and fourth right down to the finish, in a straight up battle of attrition. Really sets the tone for the rest of the show and the only complaint is that it didn’t go just a little longer. Give it a watch sometime.
Kengo Mashimo & Tank Nagai vs. Koji Doi & Shuji Ishikawa
Each pairing has a weaker element, with the young Doi getting the vote for “most likely to eat a pin.” Despite this, it is in fact Doi who shines the brightest here, completely outdoing Nagai and threatening to steal a big win over Mashimo (with a lot of help from Ishikawa). You’ll probably be left wishing to have seen some more Ishikawa vs. Mashimo in the end, but this is a solid tag, nonetheless.
AKIRA, Ultimo Dragon & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Yankee Two Kenju (Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto) & Kazuki Hashimoto
Dragon brings the great lucha submissions and flare, Kanemura the sneaky and clever offence and the bigger AKIRA (who’s in his late forties by this point) shows he is every bit as athletic as his Junior peers here. Meanwhile, Yankee Two Kenju do their best to ensure things descend into chaos (and they do, with a brawl all around Korakuen Hall), with their own brand of wild brawling mixed in with flashy moves and fun teamwork. The only non-factor really is Hashimoto, who is sort of just “there” for most of the match in all truth. While never in danger of being a classic, this ends up being a fun six man.
Fortune Dream events often serve as a great introduction to the world of indie Puroresu, and this match serves as a great introduction to each of its participants. This is especially true for Hayato, who gets his “smaller guy who fearlessly trades blows with the big heavyweights” act across perfectly. Everyone gets their moments to shine in the first half or so of the match, but in the end, it essentially turns into a one on one between Tanaka and Saito, with their partners making the occasional save. Another good match here.
Daisuke Sekimoto & Kento Miyahara vs. Kohei Sato & Yuji Hino
Big tag match in the main event here, with all four men going all out to put on a great show and seemingly having a total blast while doing it. Kobashi’s face during one of the greatest chop battles of all time between Hino and Sekimoto, is what pro wrestling is all about, and while it’s those two who shine the brightest, Miyahara also gives us a few glimpses of that magic that would in time make him the ace of All Japan. It’s brutal and hard-hitting throughout, but the heavy bombs really start coming out during the closing stretch, with big lariats and delayed Germans aplenty, leading to some big near-falls as the crowd eats up every second. Take the ending however you will, but nothing can really take away from just how much fun this is.
With the exception of the very quick first match, this is a great all round show, with a main event that delivers big. Being a produce show, these matches set out to be fun exhibitions more then anything, and as a result there isn’t always much in the way of storytelling as such. Every match pretty much follows a fighting back and fourth, until someone scores a win formula, which isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. If your just looking for some easy to watch and fun (and that really is the key word with this show.) wrestling, then you can’t really go wrong with this but if you don’t think you have time for the whole thing, then just watch the Joshi match and the main event.
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