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Member Since 04 May 2016
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Hideki Suzuki vs. Josh Barnett (IGF, 12/31/11)

Today, 01:41 PM

On the English HDNet broadcast, one of the commentators referred to the matwork as "dirty grappling", which fit well here, considering these two grunty dudes trying to manage the opposing bulk -- opposing bulk well-versed in the same catch-as-catch-can approach. Between the leg jockeying and the back-and-forth for arm control, Suzuki and Barnett conveyed the struggle of not only applying the holds, but keeping them locked on, and exhaustion of throwing around that weight working against them. This was my first exposure to Hideki Suzuki and it was clear to me early on that there's a lot to love from him as a worker. The fact that he just reaches in and coolly slaps Barnett across the face says a lot. He had a good grasp of selling with subtly, which he did here with the leg Barnett kept going after. I haven't seen much of Barnett's pro-wrestling career but I like that he's scrappy and rough-edged. He'll boot Hideki in the face before applying the single leg before transitioning into a brutal-looking STF. The powerbomb and suplexes were an awesome component of this match to establish itself as "strong style pro-wrestling" but within that, there were cool touches, like Barnett going back to the arm after each suplex, or Hideki using his weight as a counterweight to Barnett's throws. Barnett destroying Hideki with the Northern Lights Bomb from seemingly out of nowhere was the cherry on top of it all. Great stuff.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (NJPW, 11/5/17)

14 November 2017 - 05:19 PM

I can't remember if this match was better than their G1 Climax bout...I think I'd give the nod to this one based on some of the rectifications from their first match.  A lot of "your good, I'm better, no, wait, I'm the best"-ing around to open before Tanahashi settles into to working Ibushi's leg in classic Tanahashi fashion. You know, lots of legwhips. One area that was a marked improvement from the G1 match-up was Ibushi's selling. When he tries to get fresh with his standing moonsault, his leg gives out on the landing when Tanahashi rolls out of the way. Tanahashi, working that veteran ace style, does a good job of cutting off Ibushi's momentum by targeting the injured leg but Ibushi gets his comeback in the form of a somersault kick that stuns Tanahashi, allowing a run of offense that includes a lawn dart in the corner and a swan-dive German suplex. Unsurprisingly, the highlight of the match for me was that pissy slap, palm thrust, boot exchange, with Ibushi seizing Red Shoes' wrist and continuing to snap off kicks at Tanahashi in the corner like a shithead. Overall, a simple story with good selling, a few fiery exchanges, and enough big spots to satisfy without becoming too self-indulgent.

Hideki Suzuki vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW, 11/1/17)

14 November 2017 - 05:16 PM

This was perhaps Suzuki’s most heel performance to date, although “heel” may not be the right term, as he’s colder and more calculated here, making Kamitani look like a young lion. The opening sets the stage perfectly, as Suzuki coolly side-steps Kamitani’s hot-headed rush. Kamitani looks nervous and hesitant in there, his takedown attempts almost timid, seemingly knowing that Suzuki is such a matwork master that there’s about a 0.00002% chance of outwrestling him.  He comes off like a child at times, an example being Suzuki’s drop down and Kamitani delayed reaction, which elicits giggles from the Korakuen crowd. Then, as if feeling sorry for him, Suzuki lays down…only to further taunt Kamitani on the mat. Kamitani awkwardly climbs on with headlocks or choke attempts but Suzuki’s able to counter each, attacking the arm with a vicious European uppercut.
When Kamitani taps into that raw manchild power, scoop slamming Suzuki and throwing his baby fat around with elbow drops, the fans finally give him something in return. But Suzuki continues to bite. As champ, he wrestles like he doesn’t have time for anyone, the way he kicks Kamitani over for a pin attempt. He cuts off Kamitani’s momentum with a big top rope front suplex and when Kamitani decides to sling elbows and headbutts, Suzuki slings the strikes back even harder. Kamitani staggers him with some big boy slaps and catches him with a low enziguri but when he tries for the lariat, Suzuki goes from octopus hold > full nelson > German suplex > dragon suplex hold, which sees Kamitani immediately try to escape since Suzuki can use it as a submission. The problem with Kamitani is that his offense doesn’t look all that impressive, aside from some of his clobbering blows and his backdrop finish. At one point, he hits a lariat and then goes into a shitty crab hold…why?
Suzuki’s able to elbow out of the backdrop attempt, spiking Kamitani with a scoop slam tombstone, then cracking him with his deadshot elbow. He uses a running knee he probably learned from Shuji Ishikawa and then goes into a front necklock. Poor Kamitani tries to muscle out but Suzuki clenches down, forcing him to pass out before he’s castoff in disgust. The look on Hideki’s face as Daichi Hashimoto checks on Kamitani is the look of a man who gives zero fucks. The final image of Suzuki chilling up on his throne in the corner while Hashimoto’s desperately trying to get at him was awesome. I’ve said it before but Big Japan has done such a terrific job of establishing Suzuki as the ultimate final boss, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call the match itself great, I thought Suzuki’s performance re-iterated that. Everyone fears him but they also respect him, as soon in Kamitani's handshake afterwards. 

Mil Mascaras vs. The Destroyer (AJPW, 8/18/78)

11 November 2017 - 05:15 PM

Solid matwork throughout the first fall with good pacing and some neat counters and reversals from Máscaras. They kept it moving without much downtime until Destroyer uses a...uh, powerbomb pin to take the first fall. Second fall picks up where the first left off, with Mil focusing more of his efforts on Destroyer's arm and Destroyer going after the leg. More struggle here, less finesse. Mil picks up steam with a couple of flying cross chops and submits Destroyer with the standing deathlock/double underhook hold. The third fall was pretty good with Mil stretching Destroyer on the mat and Destroyer takes advantage of Mil aggravating his knee off the atomic drop. Mil survives the figure-four and goes on to pin Destroyer with a top rope crossbody. Pretty good effort from both men and a fun watch but nowhere near their 1974 match. 

Billy Robinson vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (AJPW, 6/15/78)

10 November 2017 - 07:58 PM

Opens with Tsuruta working a headscissors for about five minutes but Robinson in his royal purple conveys  a good enough struggle to make it interesting as he tries to headstand out, kip out, hip swivel out, before finally reversing it. Nothing terribly exciting here though, outside of a couple of handsy spats and suplex exchanges. Jumbo sits on a crab hold for a long time and then the match is thrown out after some shenanigans on the outside. Can't really recommend this but it's neat to see the footage.