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Kazuyuki Fujita vs Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW 7/19/2004)

kazuyuki fujita katsuyori shibata NJPW 2004

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    save all japan pro wrestling

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 12:19 PM

Calling this match shoot style or just shoot inspired might be the easiest way to get it over it but it would provide a shallow and historically inaccurate description. Shoot style was the creation of 1984 and 1988. New Japan continued to have its own style that would come in contact with the shootiness, but really started seriously flirting with it when they had the UWFi feud and then started bringing in Naoya Ogawa, Don Frye and so on. It peaked in the early 2000s as that was the peak of both PRIDE and Inoki's insanity, and you can see it in this match. It doesn't feel like UWF or RINGS or UWFi or PWFG. There's a distinct flair and style in this match-one that has maximized many of the elements of New Japan training Maeda used when creating the original style, but they also appropriate many of the elements used in modern combat fighting of the times such as soccer knees, knees on the ground etc. I know many aren't really fans of it, and politics and workers that couldn't thrive in the style could detract from it, but as far as looking for a good example of it being done right this might be your best bet. The brutality is just off the charts, but watching them fight for guard positions and takedowns and seeing how they set up the big spots is just as interesting. Shibata soccer kicking Fujita right in the eye is up there with the most brutal spots in wrestling history and you get a bunch of zoom ins at Fujita's swelling too. There was something chilling about the whole thing that's hard to put into words, during his entrance Shibata just completely covered his face with the towel and he ended it laying on the mat looking lifeless, as if he was a young lion going to a battle he wasn't ready for. ****1/2

#2 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 04:21 PM

Damnit, dude, I start a Best of Japan Countdown from 2003-2007 and then you post this! Why couldn't you have posted this a week ago. :P I'll check it out. Looks right up my alley.

#3 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:10 PM

Excellent find, brutha! This would have definitely made the back half of my top 50 for Ditch's Best of Japan in the 2000s project


IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuyuki Fujita vs Katsuyori Shibata - NJPW 7/19/2004


Don't make Fujita angry. You wont like Fujita when he is angry. The story of this match is Shibata tries to beat Fujita at his own game by kicking him really hard. I am really fucking hard. There was one kick to the eye at the beginning, which was holy shit. I mean like I don't think I have seen someone kick someone so hard in the eye. Fujita "sells" this tremendously. Does it really count as selling if you eye is actually swelling? He comes back in and just tries to choke Shibata out. I thought the whole guard passing thing was too MMA-y and did not really do much until Fujita lands this wicked knee to the back of Shibata's head. Fujita grabs an arm triangle after the Shibata powder. Shibata does an excellent heel trip, which basically makes the move an oo-soto-gari. Well done. Shibata kicks the shit out of Fujita. Tries to slow him down with a  sleeper which Fujita sells as a choke. Very cool. This sets up the PENALTY KICK~! Damn that had some zing. Just like the kick to the eye, FUJITA IS RIPSHIT! The following merciless beatdown is insane. There is one overhand fist to the back that just cracks. The kneeslifts to the chest, to the prone Shibata, to the head and THOSE FUCKING KICKS TO THE HEAD!!! WOW! Just total annihilation.


The search for the great Fujita match is over. Folks, here it is in all its ultraviolent, brutal glory. Shibata was a game opponent, but just did not have enough to take down the MMA badass. Great champion vs young lion dynamic, no shame in a loss here by Shibata, who looks like a badass in the beating he took. Fujita looks like a world beater, but problem is doesn't have much in the way of competition. ****1/2 

#4 Jetlag

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 07:09 AM

Shibata likes to play stiff shooter badass. Fujita is the actul legit shooter who you can hit as hard as physically. Naturally they're a good matchup. Them fooling around on the mat and working for submissions won't blow your mind, but you'll watch this match for Fujita mauling Shibata. Fujita really knows how to go Angry Bear when it counts and he just destroys Shibata with knees and soccer kicks. Crazy match.

#5 BigVanCrush

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:42 PM

This was one of the first IWGP Title matches I saw and it blew me away because of how hard they laid every strike in. Fujita is a really interesting guy to me, especially at this point, because there's a feeling that ltierally anything he does could conceivably end the match. Shibata was still in his 'smug punk stepping up only to get shot down' phase, which I think makes Fujita a perfect match up for him because he's willing to let Shibata get his offense in but he's also more than capable of beating Shibata half to death, letting him come back a little and then beating him half to death again. The finish is absolutely brutal and I love it. I rewatch this match a couple of times a year and it just gets better with age. Mid 2000s NJ has been called a 'black hole' in terms of match quality and I think that's kind of BS. There was goofiness, but there was also a lot of really good stuff. This match falls into that category. Incredibie match. ****3/4

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: kazuyuki fujita, katsuyori shibata, NJPW, 2004

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