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[1991-07-04-NJPW-Summer Struggle] Keiji Muto & Masa Chono vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki

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This feels like a good comparison to the really great 11/93 Muto/Hase vs Hashimoto/Chono tag. I'd probably rate that one slightly higher, but this one is pretty great in its own right. I think now, while comparisons are inevitable, I don't want to focus too much on comparing this to All Japan tags, because it's not really a good comparison. This has a much bigger focus on matwork, and the strengths of the wrestlers involved are different than for the AJ4. But it's another great Hase performance in 1991, and the first time we've seen Muto and Chono really stand out this year too. Sasaki is limited, but does what he does well. This really does have the feel of four stars on the rise showing what they can do. It probably stands as one of the better matches for everyone involved. Oddly enough, I would have predicted Hase to be the biggest star of them all at the time.

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The rising stars of All Japan were probably more expressive than their New Japan peers, but the New Japan guys were damn good at stringing together action. And this match was a great showcase for that. They managed to do a long, all-action match that still featured a natural sense of build and never felt overcrammed. That's not easy to do. Taue-Kawada was a great rivalry, but otherwise, the All Japan guys weren't yet hitting this level in peer-vs.-peer match-ups (some of that was due to booking choices).

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The more parity-centric NJPW booking probably has a lot to do with that--watching this, any guy could have conceivably pinned any other, which is just something you didn't get with most AJPW tags especially at this time. Great desperation performance from Hase at the end is what really stuck out.

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31m of pure workrate. They clearly had a lot of experience facing each other having come up through the system together. Whilst continually solid it lacked the narrative to be anything more. They could've done something more interesting with the structure, or possibly shown more character and had a bit of animosity. Head down work is fine but it needs to be embellished.

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Pretty great tag match. The thing I liked the most was how this was very mat based but would mix in spurts of flourishes displaying the athleticism and exuberance of the competitors involved. The work over Muto was very well done and made his eventual hot tag satisfactory. Awesome ending that made all of them look better coming out of the match.

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This match featured a lot of hard work, but not much action, if that makes any sense. This was a face/face match like you might have seen in the 80s WWF; quite a few nice moves, but no real heat or drama until the very end when Chono took out Sasaki from the apron. Muto and Hase had a nice little finishing sequence leading to Muto's moonsault for the win. I agree with Zenjo; this needed a bit of hatred, even temporary hatred, to spice it up. Nice win for Muto and Chono, though.

 

This is the third big loss we've seen in a tow for Hase and Sasaki; it's almost like they're on their way out as a team. Speaking of which, did anybody ever clear up why Sasaki didn't make the trip to the U.S. for the June Clash, or why he was replaced by Chono, of all people, as Hase's partner?

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Good tag match with lots of action. I did notice how the NJPW crowd reacts totally different than the AJPW crowd around the same time to broken up pins and submisions. Hase really puts on a great performance at the end as the guy who is clearly outgunned once his partner is down, but refuses to stop trying. Good stuff.

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