MLW Anthology #4: Satoshi Kojima
We’re a bit behind on MLW Anthology and Major League Wrestling delivered two hot ones this month, so far. The first one we’re getting into is the anthology focused on New Japan and All Japan veteran, former two-time IWGP Heavyweight and All Japan Triple Crown champion, tag team master—Satoshi Kojima, the first official MLW World Heavyweight champion.
A Better MLW Anthology
This episode of MLW Anthology is better edited than the first three installments. While the episodes were good, Major League Wrestling didn’t feature a match highlight to break up or reduce the amount of promo between the matches.
Now the format includes the first match, a highlight, promo time, the second match, and the MLW Pulp Fiction promos. There’s just a better flow here instead of a wall of promo. It works! Let’s go ahead and get into the matches from this episode!
MLW World Heavyweight Title: Jerry Lynn vs. Satoshi Kojima
In 2002, Satoshi Kojima was a part of the All Japan Pro-Wrestling roster following the second exodus in June 2000. He departed New Japan because of Inokism and the pushing of MMA stars and shoot style wrestlers. As part of All Japan, he was allowed to travel outside of Japan more and one of his stops was the newcomer Major League Wrestling.
MLW actually crowned its first champion in Shane Douglas. However, Douglas had this thing about throwing down belts. He was 37 at this time and really should’ve grown out of throwing down championships at this time but whatever.
The belt was deemed vacant after Douglas threw the belt down and a showdown between Jerry Lynn, a semi-finalist of the first tournament and Satoshi Kojima was scheduled. Needless to say, this was a great bout to crown the champion. Joey Styles’ commentary was solid here as well.
It was extremely competitive and either man could’ve walked out as the champion. Satoshi Kojima would take the win following his patented Lariat and become the first champion. Major League Wrestling promoted itself as the home of hybrid wrestling, a place where all styles were amplified and showcased. This match showcased what an MLW title match should be.
There were two highlighted matches on this show with Satoshi Kojima defeating Mitsuya Nagai in his native All Japan. The other saw Kojima return to Major League Wrestling to defend against first tournament finalist Vampiro at MLW King of Kings. This one highlighted more of the match with the full match being an exciting brawl.
Vampiro learned to work around injury-induced physical limitations early since his style was a mix of daredevil antics and brawling. In 2002-2003, he was still in great wrestling condition and it turned out to be a good, hard fought defense for Kojima.
MLW World Heavyweight Title: Satoshi Kojima [c] vs. Johnny Smith
This was the better of the two full matches. Johnny Smith is a “cousin” of Davey Boy Smith. In reality, he had ties with the British Bulldogs due to his time in Stampede Wrestling. He would spend most of his career with All Japan where he was considered one of the best and most consistent wresters on the roster. Most of his career there was spent as a tag team specialist.
Kojima’s defense against Smith was a physical one. All Japan’s ring style was changing in the company in part due to Keiji Mutoh’s hiring of freelancers and former WCW and WWE stars. The stiffness and intensity of the company’s King’s Road approach was fading but this match had it on display.
I’d say if nothing else he did in the promotion bumped him into a heavyweight division threat, his title attempt against Kojima should’ve elevated Johnny Smith. He really showed that he could possibly take a title off of a champion.
Unfortunately, this was Smith’s final year in wrestling. What we have here would be one of two dope singles matches of the three he had this year. After defeating Smith, Kojima would have two more successful title defenses before being stopped by Mike Awesome on his eighth defense.
Next Episode: Lucha Brothers
We’re getting another dose of lucha libre and our first tag team episode with the popular Lucha Brothers: Pentagon Jr and Rey Fenix! They were in Major League Wrestling for almost a year between 2017 and 2018 so this is going to be as extreme of a blast from the past as the last two episodes were.
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