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[1995-01-04-NJPW-Battle 7] El Samurai vs Shinjiro Otani

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Is it time for our annual overrated juniors dome show match, or is this going to be an exception to the rule? Let's find out. El Samurai is in a red getup which I can't recall ever seeing him in, so I'm totally open to the idea of this being some bizarro world where juniors matches get over on these shows. Plus, these two work really well together, so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

 

There are absolutely things to like about this match, but it falls far more in the tradition of juniors at the Dome than I hoped for. You can argue that crowd reaction at a show like this is out of the control of the wrestlers, and I'd probably agree with you, but Otani not really going all out to sell Samurai's attack hurt this. Based on the way the match was laid out, I can only guess that the booking goal was to get Otani over as someone who can take a beating and make a comeback. Samurai throws some big moves at him, but Otani's selling is too average and subdued to work in this setting.

 

Samurai probably outperformed Otani. He shows a lot more of his cards, but he's also the one carrying sequences. The loudest pop of the match -- which is almost audible, mind you -- comes when Samurai rolls through Otani's pin attempt after the top rope rana. The struggle for Otani to hit the dragon suplex at the end is also well done and puts a little more emphasis on the finish. But all in all, this isn't one for the ages for either guy.

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Nothing special here but I did find the finish interesting with the battle over the Dragon Suplex. You have both guys trying to get their own suplex and Otani succeeds and gets the win. Felt different as both guys were not worn down to the point where a move like that could put Samurai away.

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This was good, but that's all. Ohtani is a magnificent athlete whose springboards always look fantastic, but at least at this point he's not a guy who can lay out a great match start to finish. Too often he goes back to the chinlock or head scissors as a resthold (an applicable term here), while Samurai holds the match together more. Good closing stretch and finish, which is sold as an upset even though Ohtani's defending some sort of belt.

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First match of the Yearbook. I'm fresh, excited and raring to go. By the 3rd minute my trigger finger was itchy. There was no beginning to the match. Nothing to set the scene or engage the audience. They hit the deck quicker than Inoki and did some boring matwork. The audience were doing their best to help, but even a raucous atmosphere couldn't save this one. OMG near fall ****+.

 

Altogether now: Juniors in the Dome.

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Otani goes super hard for Samurai’s ankle joints early on, ripping at the leg which El Samurai replied by working on the neck. The work from Otani is super basic but tight. Samurai hits some nasty moves like a really vicious neckbreaker. The crowd is quiet though, mostly sitting on their hands until Samurai hits a sweet tope. The match soon turned into a basic back and forth match with some big moves and nearfall. Otani has some great snap to his offence like his dragon suplex finish and, of course, his dropkick but there is a flatness to it that was rather disappointing. **3/4

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