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MATCH REVIEW: Konosuke Takeshita vs Mike Bailey (07-02-17)


Loss

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The individual parts of a great match between Konosuke Takeshita and "Speedball" Mike Bailey were all there. However, they never really joined together.


July 2, 2017
Dramatic Dream Team
Hello From Shinjuku Village
Tokyo, Japan
KO-D Openweight Championship

5.0

For whatever else one might say about this match, it was not a victim of bad ideas. In fact, most of the ideas were very good or great. It also wasn’t a victim of bad execution. Mike Bailey and to an even greater extent Konosuke Takeshita have quite the arsenal of crisp, impressive moves. What the match lacked was a lack of stakes in the work, some of which was admittedly a byproduct of a growth story for “Speedball” Mike Bailey.

Bailey had undeniable personality, but he also undermined the match in ways that I don’t think he specifically wanted to happen. The smarmy applause at the beginning of the match was awesome, especially in using the Seth MacFarlane technique of continuing the joke long past the point that we would expect them to stop, thus creating its own meta-humor. On one level, it was funny, but on the more important level, he established himself as an insincere heel. The problem was that he didn’t wrestle the rest of the match that way at all, going so over the top with his facial expressions that heat-seeking heel gestures were instead played for comedy, which might be okay if this wasn’t a championship match.

As a result, Bailey came across as a guy playing pro wrestler instead of being pro wrestler. It’s a shame, because he seems to be a supremely talented guy with a lot to offer, and I think if his facial expressions weren’t so goofy, he might have been a more credible challenger. At the same time, in Bailey’s overall DDT arc, that seemed to be exactly the point, and many of the problems that plagued his work aren’t unique to him in current day wrestling -- does anyone actually struggle to get in a vertical suplex position anymore or does everyone just voluntarily put their body in position for it? Still, it’s a character not yet realized and match cliches that have spread everywhere that bring down the match despite anything else.

Luckily, Takeshita was in the match as well and he carried himself like a superstar, and had he not, this would have gone from a low-stakes match to a no-stakes match. I absolutely got the sense that Takeshita cared deeply about staying champion. Bailey seemed to be there more to humor himself than win, and to his credit, the post-match interviews make clear that this was an intentional character failing and that this is part of a longer booking journey. Still, this is the type of journey where there isn’t much reason to wake the sleeping wrestling fan until it’s over. As it stands, Takeshita beat a talented guy who challenged him with the brute force of bad comedy and came out champion. Yay him, I guess?

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