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Charles (Loss)

[1996-08-04-NJPW-J*Crown] Great Sasuke vs El Samurai

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This is definitely a match wrestled for the JIP nature of New Japan TV, as almost nothing of substance really happens for the first 10 minutes of the match, then they crank it up big time for the last five minutes. Even then, the heat is not good at first because they killed too much time early on doing nothing. Good toward the end, but disappointing, and a match that probably looked better when it aired on TV than it really was.

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This followed Dragon-Ohtani, which probably had a bit to do with the heat. The early stuff felt like killing time, whereas the early stuff of Dragon-Ohtani seemed to play better with the crowd.

 

John

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Pretty meh. There is some good stuff in the opening matwork, like Samurai grinding his knuckle into Sasuke's eye to escape a hold, but there isn't much to this. There was a fairly sizable anti-Sasuke backlash during the '06 Smarkschoice poll and I don't recall him placing well, and with this Yearbook I'm finally starting to see why.

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Guess I am the high vote here as I enjoyed the table setting but I really think Samurai is one of the more engaging workers I have found on the yearbooks. Nothing about his look is as flashy as almost anyone else within the company, and yet he remains an engaging figure based on his mat work and overall psychology. The last five minutes were full of more high impact bumps and nearfalls to get the crowd going. Not a classic by any means, but a really good juniors match that was unfortunate to come right after a classic. ***1/2

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How great a babyface Sasuke was is way overlooked at this point. He sells those Sammy submissions (when he's in) like crazy. Yes, he did blow off the legwork a bit too fast, but damn Sammy was brutal with him, including with some of the comeback spots. This is not merely good, this is excellent, with the idea that Sammy really is gonna upset Sasuke (who's the bigger star of course by now). The more I watch these junior matches today, the more I see the differences with all the indieriffic matches, as there was a clear sense of struggle back then, with intent on hurting and winning as opposed to do "cool shit". Sure, Sasuke was also about "cool shit, but he was way more than just this. Very good/excellent match.

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The first half or so of the match was definitely nothing, and I was ready to write this match off. But when they pick up the pace they do deliver good action.

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