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Makai Club #1 posted a topic in March 2005IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Satoshi Kojima (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura - NJPW Nexess V 26/03/2005 On one hand, both of these two are favourites of mine. However, 2005 Nakamura is someone that’s very raw and way below the level he would reach later down the line. Kojima is pretty much his first peak of his career being in the middle of his Triple Crown title run, having an absolute classic with Kawada at AJPW Realise. But he’s not exactly known for being able to career lesser wrestlers. So can a peak Kojima offset a raw Nakamura? Off the bat, they establish Nakamura has the better technique, with him taking Kojima to the ground with ease where he chokes him out. And then again with the arm wringer into a kip-up spot. Kojima uses his strength to counter Nakamura fairly well but in the end, Nakamura’s focus, on the arm in particular, pays off with a double wrist lock being tightly cinched in. The match gets into a big point of the match where they are just meandering through, trying to pad out the time with as many submissions as possible. Kojima attacked Nakamura’s leg with a very Tanahashi style of offence. A few dragon screws, the seated leg submission he does (I don’t know the name of it). That doesn’t go anywhere. There is a brief brawl on the outside that goes nowhere. The match was just there for a while. And it loses me and the crowd. It even got to the point where Kojima’s Machine Gun Chops/running forearm barely gets the “Icchauzo Bakayaro” chant. The match eventually picked back up when Nakamura locked on the Fujiwara and the crowd bought it as a finish. Nakamura even gets a bit vicious when he refuses to let go of a cross armbreaker when Kojima grabs the ropes. But Kojima then wallops him with a lariat which was an awesome payback spot. There were some more awesome moments in the latter stages of the match like Kojima throwing away his elbow pad to a big pop. Nakamura throws in his flash submissions like the jumping triangle and his Fujiwara armbar counter against Kojima’s lariat attempts (which looked amazing). The nearfalls were really well done being sparsely done making it feel bigger when Nakamura kicks out of the running lariat. They mostly relied on submission holds for potential matchenders. I dug the little scramble at the end before the bell rang as well. A good way to end the match. The match had its really great moments where I was fully invested in the match. Such as the first 15 minutes with there was some solid mat work and they laid the foundations for a really good match. The closing stretch was really good as well. It wasn’t a classic hot finishing stretch that you’d associate with Japanese wrestling. There is a ton of focus on submissions with occasional bursts of suplexes and lariats being thrown by Kojima. Nakamura shined signs of promise, although he was a little out of his depth in the body of the match. Kojima is a bit too limited to really carry someone who was only 3 years into their career for 60 minutes so there was a big chunk of the match where nothing interesting was happening. There is a great 30 minute match in this, but given the end booking, they were shackled to go 60 minutes. A match well worth watching if you like both wrestlers though. ***1/2