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Charles (Loss)

[1996-03-20-NJPW-Hyper Battle] Wild Pegasus vs Shinjiro Otani

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I think the second half of this is better than the second half of Liger/Ohtani, actually. Much more one-sided (and Benoit's obviously the best dominant/power-junior there ever was), Ohtani has to work much more for his own offence and his selling, too, is much better, he's moving much slower and whilst he's animated (obviously) there's a much stronger balance between that and putting over the fact he's getting his ass handed to him. It doesn't have the great "aw, shucks" moment of the second Dragon (does he even manage two moves in succession at any point down the stretch?) but it's much tighter as a stretch from the dominant/underdog POV.

 

That said, the first half's even more of a "kill time" than the Liger match where you can at least (perhaps clutching at straws somewhat but...) see Liger as flashier, getting his holds on easier or whatever. Even "Ohtani's better on the ground" plays no factor in the second half. If they'd scrapped the early "obligatory" matwork in favour of a quick opening sequence, give Ohtani a nice pop in there somewhere, and then transition right into Benoit dominating and letting Ohtani up for spurts, it'd be a JrMOTYC. The "TV Version", at least, is great.

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It's bizarre that this took place in Japan. Nothing going on in the first half with a dead crowd. God bless the Junior style. Things picked up once action time started. Quite good overall, yet I would say it didn't do it's job properly. The storyline was that the bridesmaid Ohtani finally wins a title. He should've been hitting lots of big moves with Benoit just surviving. They didn't do that and he was having to do excess acting during the presentation to put the storyline over. They should've been doing that during the match.

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More of a solid and well-worked match than a classic, but Otani's punchdrunk, concussed selling after taking the rolling Germans is textbook selling (if in fact he was selling and not actually fucked up). The opening matwork was pretty blah and throwaway, which holds this back some--if you could combine the Toyota/Hasegawa matwork with this closing stretch, you'd really have something. Otani puts Benoit away with a springboard DDT that looks fantastic.

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Another really good Otani performance and match overall. This was worked more underneath but I thought it saw some great growth from Otani with him capitalizing on a brilliant move with the springboard DDT instead of trying for too much and ending up making a mistake. Very good match that wouldn't look out of place at all on my top 100 at the end of the year. ***1/2

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Opening stuff is pretty unexceptional, but perfectly fine, and then they really turn it on when they start exchanging big moves. Benoit hits a really cool backbreaker from the back suplex position and follows it up with rolling Germans. Otani's selling is great from there on as Benoit gets some big offense in for the rest of the match with Otani trying to eek out some big moves here and there. After a run of big offense Otani finally finds himself in position to hit a big dropkick to the back of the head and finishes it with a beautiful springboard DDT. That ending looked like a real killer move, and I liked how Otani had to take some time to collect himself before being able to make the pin, but Benoit still being down for the count. Got that DDT over as a total KO move, which it looked like.

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