Prime time Terry with his Looney Tunes selling and Amarillo, Texas-style, forearm-grinding limbwork. Terrific first fall, as Terry controls early on, working the arm and building to Tsuruta’s inevitable escape, and when it happens, you can see just how hard Funk fought to keep Jumbo in check as he’s out of breath and sweaty. Now Jumbo’s got Terry on the Rocks and I love Funk working to shake Tsuruta off, firing off knight-edged chops and trying to toss him over the ropes only for Jumbo to hold onto the arm and bring him back into the ring. Funk tries to find an opening with an atomic drop but Jumbo scouts the elbow drop and arm drags him back down to the mat, holding on. Just a great sense of struggle throughout. Funk finally delivers the double arm suplex but Jumbo’s too fast for him and pins him with the sunset flip. Between falls, Terry is selling the arm on the outside and back inside the ring, he knows he has to put some distance between he and Jumbo, so Funk cheap shots him during the lock up. Terry focuses on the neck for the second fall, hitting a swinging neckbreaker and a piledriver before he goes to the sleeper hold. The finish here is awesome, as they fight over an abdominal stretch which leads to Funk scoring the second fall following his rolling cradle. By the third fall, the tactical approach is thrown out the window and two go back-and-forth trading suplexes. With all these big bombs being thrown, I thought the finish of the match was a little disappointing, as Terry catches Jumbo throat-first on the ropes and pins him, but it did the trick. Awesome match and build to that explosive third fall.
The first fall of this match is about fifteen of the most beautiful minutes of professional wrestling I’ve seen, combining Destroyer’s methodical old-school approach with the lucha elegante matwork of Máscaras. With Destroyer, every movement has significance, every strain or expression conveys meaning. The transitions, reversals, counters, evasions, and takedowns are all so masterfully executed, not only from Destroyer, but Máscaras as well, who seems more in his element on the canvas than pinballing around the ring. While "Woken Twitter" is quick to proclaim wrestling as an art form over an impressive but largely meaningless aerobatics display, the way these two seamlessly thread their exchanges together throughout the match is a testament to the thought and sensibility put into the telling of a clever, believable in-ring story. There’s something special about the way Destroyer rolls the audience around the palm of his hand like putty, whether it’s his comical “No-no-no-no-no-no”s during Mil’s standing surfboard or the fear he instills when he’s attacking the leg to set-up the figure-four leglock. During the first fall, Máscaras seems as if he's in a perpetual state of change, the way he watches for variations in Destroyer’s step, reading his energy levels and transitioning accordingly if something isn’t working. The sequences are, again, a thing of beauty. As they head toward the finish of the first fall, Máscaras starts to build some momentum as his speed overwhelms Destroyer but when he slips up, Destroyer takes full advantage, driving him headfirst into the corner and following up with the knees to the neck to take the first fall. He lives up to his namesake by continuing to destroy Mil’s neck with elbows, knees, and a neckbreaker into the second fall, which didn't really work, out, as Mil ends up taking the second fall via a flying crossbody. The third fall brings back the fear of the figure-four as Destroyer goes after Mil’s leg a wild dog and when he finally locks it in, the arena freaks the fuck out. Destroyer built such a great atmosphere around it and this final fall features some of Máscaras best selling. Mil gets in plenty of offense with his flying around and his scoop-style suplexes, and the non-finish wasn’t ideal but it also kept in tune with the general unpredictability of the match.
Yatsu is such a heel here, it's terrific, and Nakano shows a ton of fire, coming out of the gate against Fuyuki like he's got a lit bottle rocket up his ass. When Fuyuki's had it with him, he pummels him with pissy little headbutts. Tenryu gets in there and chops the hell out of him and when the kid smacks back at Tenryu, Tenryu promptly shuts him down in grumpy fashion. Loved how Nakano pounds away at Tenryu after he breaks the pin attempt. The hate between Yatsu and Tenryu is on full display. When Fuyuji heats up on offense and gets the big tag to Tenryu, Tenryu murder chops Nakano to set up the diving back elbow drop but Yatsu pulls Nakano out of the way to massive heat from the fans. Tenryu's still able to hit it a bit later but Yatsu breaks up the count. Then he brings out the chair, attacking Fuyuki and Tenryu. The fans are going nuts as Fuyuki sacrifices his body to protect Tenryu from the chairshots. Then Yatsu busts Fuyuki open with a headshit and the fans have had it, throwing garbage into the ring. But in the end, Tenryu is able to lariat Nakano and deliver the powerbomb to send the fans home happy.
While not nearly on the same pedestal as their 1969 masterpiece, this match showed how the Destroyer can turn a prolonged headlock-dominated first fall into something entertaining. Baba isn’t the most engaging on the mat but Destroyer not only does a solid job selling Baba’s headlock but when the roles are reversed, Destroyer makes the headlock interesting. Whether it’s wrenching Baba’s head back and forth, using his knees to tenderize, or springboarding off the ropes with the takedown, Destroyer breathes life into an otherwise lackluster first fall. He’s jaw jacking to the fans, yelling at Baba “you get paid to lay down!”, but when he runs into the neckbreaker drop, it’s over. The second fall ends just as quickly when Destroyer gets Baba in the figure-four leglock. Baba’s selling in the third fall is tremendous. He hurts himself on the coconut crusher, his leg gives out on the single leg crab hold, but when Destroyer tries to take advantage of the injury, he keeps hurting himself, too! Baba wins the third fall and the match via countout. As always, Destroyer was a joy to watch in the ring and Baba really turned up the drama in the third fall.
A much more subdued tag for the M-Pro crowd than what we saw in BattlARTS. A lot more mat-based with Ono getting the most exposure, whether it's being worked over or trying to squeeze out holds when he can. The strikes aren't quite as murderous here, but Otsuka does take a bunch of head kicks at the end to get TKO'd. The stuff between Ishikawa/Ikeda isn't as exciting, apart from a cool high kick counter by Ishiakwa. There's some very light crowd brawling, Otsuka manages a couple of suplexes and the giant swing, but nothing too special.