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Charles (Loss)

[1996-08-02-NJPW-G1 Climax] Keiji Muto vs Kazuo Yamazaki

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Yamazaki is awesome! I love the early matwork. Yamazaki is outclassing Muto every step of the way, so Muto steps on his hand to get away. Lots of restarts and standoffs, which I usually hate, but the matwork is so strong that it really doesn't matter. The leg work and figure four set up is brief, but really nice done, and played well for drama with all the attempts to turn it over that didn't work. Yamazaki winning has to be a bit of an upset. Muto kind of no-sells the finish, which takes away from this, and this is a bit of an up-and-down match, but there are flashes of brilliance here. It doesn't get to the next level because it doesn't sustain, but I still really enjoyed this match.

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Such an intelligent storytelling match. Really good stuff. Yamazaki came in with two fingers taped together, and Mutoh had been around the block too many times not to take advantage of that. It wasn't just painful, it also meant he couldn't fully lock in his dangerous submissions. With those weapons neutralised Keiji also attacked the knee so he couldn't be kicked either. However he couldn't disable his opponents fighting spirit. Kazuo hung on grimly and then thought something along the lines of: 'Fuck it. I don't care how much it hurts, I've got to give everything on this submission.' And it worked. It reminded me of some of the psychology from Misawa vs Kobashi 1/97, which can't be a bad thing. Afterwards Mutoh was furious at himself for getting complacent and failing to finish off his ailing foe.

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Great match all about the little things--Yamazaki being a superior mat worker full of deadly submissions, and Muto resorting to stomping on his hand to gain advantages. Yamazaki withstanding the dragon screw->moonsault->figure four combo was a shocker, as that really seemed to be the finish. Then once again he pulls a submission out of his ass for an upset victory. Muto walking out was a little weird but his actual selling while in the cross armbreaker was gold.

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I liked this a lot more than I expected as it was starting. The constant hand work and arm bars really had me invested and Yamazaki picking the win felt deserved and him not giving in to the aura of Muto overall. I agree that Muto popping up and vanishing at the finish took some wind out of this match overall but it was a really pleasant surprise and a great match for Yamazaki as a whole. ***1/2

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Loved the handwork from Muto and especially when he blocked an armbar attempt by literally stepping on the bad hand and then stomping it. Might be my favorite thing I've seen him do in a match. Nice match overall.

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I totally loved this match. Yamazaki brings a unique feel to the match and both guys have clear strategies; Yamazaki relies on his kicks and is going after the arm, while Muto is after the leg and works on Yamazaki's fingers a bit for good measure, always coming across really nasty while doing so. Both themes are established early on and are important to the match up to the end. Very good mat work in the beginning. Ending stretch is awesome and especially Muto trying to escape the armbar; Yamazaki sure has been bringing it with the come-from-behind armbar finishes this year!

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