They're partners, brothers in arms. But tonight, they are foes.
We think it's going to be all respectful as they shake hands, but as soon as Kimura turns his back, Fujinami jumps him. This is war! Wrestling without the romance!
No commentary on this one, which is interesting. You can hear the competitors constantly grunting and muttering, which helps gets the match over as a real struggle while they roll around on the mat. It also underscored just how much English the ref was using - "Give up?" "Break!" "One, two, three..." and even "No no no no!" Nothing quite rises to the level of a Tenryu vs Koshinaka (I think) match in which the Japanese ref told the Japanese wrestlers in Japan to "Watch the kicks" in English, but it does demonstrate to what extent English is the lingua franca of professional wrestling.
Fujinami dominates the early matwork, which is good and struggly. Eventually we get a rope break, and Kimura gets up selling his arm. Fujinami is behind the ref bouncing in anticipation, and the crowd is ready for something to pop off.
It's at this point that they start going a million miles an hour, running the ropes until Fujinami attempts a sunset flip only for Kimura to lean down and smack him right in his damn face. It's here that I realize that Fujinami is heeling a little bit - another slap prompts him to roll outside and whine about closed fists, which Kimura is not throwing.
Well, he wasn't throwing them then, but when Fujinami rejoins the action Kimura starts boxing. Fujinami catches fist after fist (the ref doesn't care) and then two piledrivers, but he gets a foot on the rope.
They exchange backslides, which I thought was going to be the finish since Fujinami kind of screws his up, and that's something he does at the end of his matches. Finally Kimura runs at Fujinami in the corner only to be greeted with a sunset flip (is that still a sunset flip? Not sure what to call it) for the three count. Fujinami doesn't screw this one up - it looks great.
Kimura looks annoyed, but he does finally shake hands and raise Fujinami's arm. I'm glad they worked it out.
This was really good. It was fun to watch Fujinami in this role, where he's higher-ranked and cheating a little bit. I can't help but be a bit disappointed by the man's lack of presence, though. He just doesn't have in same way as, say, Choshu or Tsuruta. He's not dull, but he's not as memorable as the super charismatic guys.