Jun Akiyama vs. Katsuyori Shibata Made Wrestling Real Again

Hamish Woodward

Updated on:

While Katsuyori Shibata‘s match with Kazuchika Okada is regarded as one of the greatest of all time, his bout with Jun Akiyama is up there as his finest.

This match may be unknown to many western fans. This is because it did not take place in NJPW, which is the most popular Japanese promotion in Japan.

Instead, it took place during a super-show of sorts, between some of the smaller promotions in Japan.

During the dark period on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s history, Katsuyori Shibata left the promotion to become a freelancer across Japan.

This caused huge controversy and turned the New Japan fans and management against him, but gave him fantastic opportunities to wrestle in other promotions.

All-Japan Pro Wrestling president Keiji Mutoh put on a huge tournament in 2005 called Wrestle-1. This featured talent from all over Japan, and even stars from promotions like PRIDE and K-1.

The tournament was called “Wrestle-1”, which would later be the name of the promotion Mutoh would found after leaving AJPW.

The tournament featured some huge names, including Giant Bernard, Akebono and The Great Muta. However, the best match to take place would be the bout between Katsuyori Shibata and Jun Akiyama

Jun Akiyama vs. Katsuyori Shibata

Orange Cassidy vs Katsuyori Shibata

During the Wrestle-1 tournament, the veteran Jun Akiyama took on a young Katsuyori Shibata in a bout that made wrestling feel real again.

Japan at time was going through a bit of a crisis, with an emphasis on “Inokism” and making wrestling into a faux-MMA sport.

While this did not work at all, some remnants of that style are still visible in this match.

Shibata and Akiyama treated this match as a fight, not as a scripted dance. Shibata came out of the blocks with some stiff kicks to the head, causing his opponent to bleed right from the off.

This makes Akiyama see red, and he proceeds to give Shibata a beat down like you’ve never seen. He throws him to the outside, and proceeds to throw multiple chairs at his head, burying him under them while surrounded by the crowd on the floor.

Once the action returns to the ring, it resembles more of an MMA fight than a wrestling match.

The bout consists of kicks, hard strikes, suplexes and submission holds, although at a wonderful pace that keeps you hooked for the whole time.

The bout only went 13 minutes, but felt like double that length (in a good way, as they packed in so much action). Jun Akiyama eventually picks up the win with a series of knees and suplexes, ending the match after 13 minutes and with the crowd on their feet.

For whatever reason, Dave Meltzer did not give a rating to the Jun Akiyama vs. Katsuyori Shibata match, even thought it is one he would definitely love.

The match ratings for Jun Akiyama vs. Katsuyori Shibata are as follows:

  • Dave Metlzer Star Ratings – N/A (Did Not Rate)
  • Cagematch Ratings – 9.38
  • Atletifo Star Rating – 4.5 Stars

The full match can be watched on Youtube, which is linked below. Tell us your thoughts on the match in the comments section below.

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