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Charles (Loss)

[1996-02-25-NJPW-Fighting Spirit] Black Tiger & El Samurai & Gran Hamada vs Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Dean Malenko

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Picking a match of the month for February is going to be very difficult, I'll say that.

 

Wow. Otani seems a little bitter about his January loss to Samurai and gets a little big for his britches, and of course Samurai will have none of it and semi-obliterates him for the finish. Everyone is mechanically awesome here, but Otani/Samurai is the pairing to watch especially. Again, Otani beats himself by not keeping his emotions in check.

 

That energy spills over to everyone else in the match, and of course, all of these guys are amazing, so keep your expectations high.

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Dean seemed to be doing his own thing and really only made a difference when he was in there with Guerrero. Otani’s team was dominating until Otani slacked off a bit and got drop kicked in the knee. Samurai’s team seem to delight in beating on Otani at this point. Him reaching for the ropes only to repeatedly get kicked in the hand by Guerrero and Hamada was fun. Another good match and I'm enjoying watching Otani again.

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It's a continual battle. Having to keep the good moves and actions coming all the time to disguise the desperate limitations and inherent boredom of the 6 man tag format. They did a reasonable job of it here. I like the Kanemoto/Ohtani combo and the two Americans had some smooth exchanges.

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This was enjoyable enough, but a really, really dead crowd didn't help at all. They finally woke up a little when Sammy and Tiger went to town on Otani's knee and Otani was selling it like the Confederate soldier in Gone with the Wind getting his leg amputated, and again at the finish. A little unexpected that Otani would go from being in control to going down to one big move, as it's sort of an American-style finish rather than a Japanese one that's usually more drawn-out, but the Samurai Bomb that won the fall looked pretty great and devastating.

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I thought this was good, but not entirely fond of it. The action felt pretty inconsequential and mundane which was accelerated by the dead crowd. The Tiger vs. Liger match felt like the baseline for those guys and this felt like the multi-man equivalent. ***1/4

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Really good match, a little hurt by the crowd and Otani's no-selling the really good leg work. This starts off with a little bit of some more super nasty matwork with Samurai and Otani and quickly gets nasty all around. Malenko had some really nice lucha-y exchanges with El Samurai. The opposing team all joins in to work over Otani's leg; an especially great spot is Otani being in a figure four near their corner, and the other two guys kicking at him as he reaches for the ropes. A short, explosive sequences with Otani and Samurai ends the match after Samurai hits a nice lariat to the back of the head followed by a powerbomb.

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