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  1. The resurgence of Big Japan's deathmatch division over the past year or so has been very interesting. While still always the major draw in the company, most English speaking fans have favored the Strong Division over the Deathmatch one. However, the Srong Division has had trouble establishing new stars, while Masashi Takeda has become an absolute superstar. This is his first title defense of 2018 against Takumi Tsukamoto. They would go on to become tag champions a few weeks later. Takeda has a lot of things going for him. He's incredibly charasmatic, has solid technical skills, knows how to structure his matches and is a madman. Most deathmatches in Big Japan are focused around the ability to just survive as much punishment as possible, and this is no exception. It is very brutal. From lighttubes to scissors to fork cakes to cages to nailboards, there's a lot going on here. Takeda takes control early and just destroys Tsukomoto's forehead, with gouging, tubes, and brutal chairshots. He then steps up the brutality attempting to send Tsukomoto through a barbed wire cage, but Tsukomoto fires up by breaking lighttubes over his head and gains the upper hand, suplexing Takeda through the barbed wire. The crowd is starting to get amped up and behind Tsukomoto. He follows that with a vertebreaker onto chairs. After some back and forth, Takeda gives Tsukotmoto a pretty crazy Russian Leg Drop off of the apron through the cage, which has been moved to the outside. From here, it turns into a bit more of a sprint, with both guys fighting as hard as they can. Takeda is a great deathmatch seller. He has really great facial expressions that make him look like he is in absolute agony, but Tsukomoto is right there with him in this one. He continues to fire up and really gets the crowd behind him. There are some big nearfalls, like Tsukomoto kicking out after a slam on a nailboard followed by a German onto tubes, but Tsukomoto still isn't giving up. Finally, a reverse DDT puts him away. If you are not a fan of the Big Japan deathmatch style, this may not be a match to change your mind, as it contains the excesses and brutality that can take some out of a match. However, I think they do a great job accomplishing what they set out to deliver: elevate Tsukotomo and continue Takeda's unstoppable reign. It is fairly compact. There isn't much downtime, they transition and build to the next spot very well and never feels like they are just waiting for someone to set up or build the next contraption to go through. This is my favorite deathmatch so far this year. Takeda has been one of the best wrestlers in the world so far, and this has been one of his best performances. If you can stomach this style, I absolutely recommend this. ****1/2