Go Shiozaki vs Suwama - AJPW 9/15/14 Royal Road Tournament
I really enjoyed Suwama in the two matches I watched for the Best of Japan in the 2000s and the trend continued here. Suwama understood Shiozaki's greatest asset to be his energy. He continually sapped that by effectively using the sleeper. This did not achieve the level of the famous sleepers match between Pegasus Kid and Black Tiger in 1996, but it was a perfect use of the sleeper. The sleeper/chinlock is best used to drain the energy of an explosive babyface and let a heel regain his wind. Too often it is misused and thus triggers people's attention to drift. Shiozaki is all about those chops, but Suwama is going to make sure there is nothing behind those chops after the sleeper. You see how Suwama modulates his selling. Suwama sells the chops at the beginning of the match, but after the sleeper he stands tall. Shiozaki did a great job selling the first sleeper as really knocking him out. He is great at peppering in the hope spots, but his selling leaves a lot to be desired. He just does not have enough emotion. As good as Shiozaki's chops look, Suwama's double chop is so sick and maybe my favorite move in wrestling now. Suwama was wrestling perfectly. He took his time and was cocky when it was time, but anytime Shizaki started to fire off, he would immediately snuff the fire out with a double chop or a powerslam. Go finally mounts a bit of a comeback and is looking for a macho pissing contest so Suwama says fuck that and grabs him by the hair and applies a sleeper. Suwama is my hero. Suwama obliterates Shiozaki with a lariat and then a belly to belly suplex. With the match firmly back in his hand, Suwama looks to polish him off with his powerbomb. Shiozaki escaps and looks for refuge on the apron. Suwama comes flying across the ring with a HUGE dropkick and follows up with a suicide dive. Suwama returns to the sleeper to set up the powerbomb, but Misawa-rana. Man copying Misawa AND Kobashi, now that is just not fair! Suwama immediately clamps on a sleeper. I love Suwama's urgency. Suwama tries to gain the pin three times. Go busts out the classic collapse on a rope run and he really exaggerates his chops not having much. This is some really good shit here. Suwama is all over him, but looks to get a running start and Go roars out of the corner with a lariat. Ruh roh! Shiozaki hits a big lariat to send Suwama tumbling out and HUGE plancha by Go! Shiozaki goes all in on the lariat. Suwama is not going down without a fight, but he is on jelly legs. Suwama is selling like a boss. The double chop crushing a roaring burning lariat attempt was awesome! Eventually, Go hits a big time lariat to set up the Go Flasher & Limit Break for the win.
Suwama totally outclassed Shiozaki here carrying him to a great match and the second best AJPW match of the year. Suwama was wrestling at such a high level. He was using the sleeper to debilitate his opponent and set himself up for the powerbomb. He was cocky when it was time and snuffed out Go when appropriate. Go Shiozaki needs more emotion and his selling for the majority of the match left a lot to be desired. The finish run was typical late 2000s puroresu and was fine for what it was. Suwama is underrated and this is a great showcase for him. ****1/4