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NJPW You Might Have Missed: Ultimo Dragon vs Shinjiro Otani

G. Badger


People have soured on the 90's Jr. Style but, think its still pretty fun. This match is one that I've gone back to a few times and should be watched. There might be some spoilers below but, I tried to edit those out somewhat.


Ultimo Dragon vs Shinjiro Otani (08/04/96 NJPW): I loved the beginning portion of this match as Shinjiro would not be sucked into a Magistral cradle...a possible parallel to Dynamite Kid/Tiger Mask...not wanting to be tricked into one of the lightning fast moves Dragon & Tiger respectively have at their disposal. Eventually, both guys slowed down and did the usual creative mat wrestling, which was punctuated by Ohtani trying to snap Ultimo's shoulder/elbow in an arm bar. This segment was great but the comparison to Dynamite/Tiger ended here. Too often wrestlers scoot over for a rope break rather than escape the hold. Ultimo Dragon is the king of quickness so I expect him to be able to reverse a hold or escape in spectacular fashion. It's possible that Ohtani was just too smart or too quick tonight for this tactic but I would have liked to see a proper escape only for Ultimo to be snared into a more devastating hold. Both men were equals and I think that this course of action would maintain this point by demonstrating that Ultimo is quicker/craftier but Ohtani is stronger or has more guts. Certainly this match was great despite this difference in taste. To address the general nature of the bout, strikes were stiff when thrown and execution was beautifully accurate. I just loved Ohtani's springboard moves. He really connects! The only downside, which is quite minor, is that the ending was sudden. Dragon seemed to say "Enough of this foolishness! Let's finish it!" Which was smart since the whole match Shinjiro was watching out for the flash-pin only to get out-powered. Neat twist to a NJPW Jr. classic!


Rewatch: Yeah this match still is pretty great especially since the matwork is exciting. And the rope breaks didn't destroy Ultimo's cred.


RE-re-watch: Oh my goodness this is still one of my favorites. It really makes me appreciate the greatness of Otani too. Hot damn is he good on so many levels. He references back to the early 80s with NJ standard bearers wearing the black trunks (Inoki, Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, UWF guys etc.) and he certainly has the mat skills to back it up. It makes me want to see this Samurai/Otani match by the wayDragon is no slouch either. He is quicksilver and really does appear to be the heir apparent to the Tiger Mask as I guess he would assume for a short time in the mid 2000s. I cant go on too much about this one. Its just one of my favorites because it does everything it needs to do and the more wrestling I watch the more my fondness grows. I crave more Otani and Dragon for sure.


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