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[1997-11-09-Michinoku Pro] Great Sasuke & Super Delphin vs Mens Teoh & Shoichi Funaki

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Rematch from the week before. It picks up where the 11/2 tag left off, with Funaki and Teoh going after Sasuke's injured knee. At one point, Teoh gets Sasuke in a figure four and Funaki tries to block Delphin from interfering. Delphin ends up circling the ring and metaphorically running through fire to save Sasuke in an awesome moment. There are a series of dramatic saves after that, to the point that this starts to resemble some of the best All Japan tags. Fantastic match that seems Sasuke get some sort of retribution for the week prior and Delphin gets a chance to come through as the savior of his team. Even better tag than the last one.

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Funaki is all about going after Sasuke’s knee. I like that they play off the last match and continue to make that the focus. I wish Sasuke would sell the leg a bit more when going for the high flying moves. He just pops up too quickly at times. Just do a quick pause at least when climbing to the top rope. Sasuke and Delphin get the win but you feel like Sasuke has been neutralized big in these last two matches.

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Really unheralded tag series that is fantastic to watch in succession. The leg work on Sasuke was so much better after seeing the previous match and I love how good of a partner Delphin is trying to prevent things from happening to him. The end run is full of action and the crowd has a buzz to it with them continuously trying to isolate Sasuke's leg and him fighting through.

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Sasuke's complete no-selling of the lengthy work on his legs and back after the hot tag took this down a notch. Apart from that a great match. Thankfully Delphin ended this with a Shota and not the Delphin Clutch, one of my least favorite moves in wrestling.

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What a great crowd. Delphin seemed to feed off them and gave a stellar performance, which was impressive since he was only really there to make saves. Of course Funaki and Teoh's Southern style junior tag work was great as well. Sasuke, like Toyota, is blessed with amazing flexibility which allows him to be turned every which way but loose. There's no way having him hobble about trying to hit his signature stuff would have made this any better. They got enough heat with the nearfalls and diving saves as it was. The ending was hotter than a lot of bigger halls, and as Loss mentioned, very All Japan like. Tremendous scenes at the end with the Sendai fans. Did the New Japan juniors have a better tag than this? Great match that has to be one of the high points of late 90s juniors work.

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Sasuke running through all of his offensive shit with a bum knee is troubling, but at this point it's sort of like watching a babyface Hogan match and complaining about his Hulking Up--it's just sort of with the territory, so all you can do is accept it or not. Plus Kaientai are so relentless in their attack on the knee that the match sustains its psychological thread in spite of it, and Sasuke is such an effective babyface-in-peril in every other fashion. This is so closely tied with the prior tag that it may as well be the second fall in a 2/3 falls match. I also loved how they recreated the previous match's finish, with Delfin trapped in the Teioh Clutch while Funaki gets Sasuke in an anklelock that tapped him last time, but this time Sasuke gets to the ropes. In addition to the requisite high spots they throw in some '80s babyface comeback spots like the heel apron collision and small package counter to the figure four, to add some new wrinkles to the MPro tag formula. I don't know if I quite liked this as much as the previous week but this was a hell of a series in any event.

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Right from the start it felt like a higher tier match than the group phase. The build was really impressive. Sasuke had his injured knee worked over in Southern Tag style. Teioh and Funaki may be the lesser wrestlers from Kaientai, but they were good workers who performed their roles capably. They'd given themselves such a strong base, yet the latter stages were disappointing. Sasuke's selling was as you'd come to expect. The bigger issue was that it felt unwieldy and unfocused in contrast to earlier. I found myself wanting it to end as the rating was going down rather than up. It was still a fine effort overall. The fans rushing up to ringside afterwards was cute.

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I am going to buck trend, but it seems like a couple agree with me in preferring the first tag to this one. I thought Sasuke's selling was better and more even in the previous encounter. 

Great Sasuke & Super Delphin vs Kaientai (Sho Funaki & MENS Teioh) - Michinoku Pro 11/9/97

Rematch to the previous week's excellent tag team match. I preferred the previous week's tag, but the gulf is small and this one is quite enjoyable. What this one has going for it is a raucous, feel-good ending with the babyfaces going over as opposed to the heels winning by submission the previous week. I felt like this match did not build on the previous week's tag so much as replicate it in a way that a Boston and MSG match on the same loop would be nearly identical. A good example of this is that in both matches MENS Teioh is about to bail as Super Delphin is going to hit a Shotei in a sort of "Fuck that noise" moment. The difference here is that the finishes are clearly different. I thought the previous match that Sasuke's selling was more even. Yes he did hit an Asai Moonsault in both matches, but in the last match there were more failed moves and more hobbled running. In this match, he was moving very spry and hitting powerbombs without issue. Both matches featured outstanding leg pscyhology from Kaientai. I thought some of the spots as the top rope knee crusher was better here and the fact that Funaki stood guard while Teioh had him in a figure-4. However, I thought they were a bit more heelish in the first match, more double teams at the beginning of that match and more taunting. I think it was great they recreated the exact finish of the previous match, but this time Sasuke holds out and makes it to the ropes. Also, I am really happy that Kaientai never abandoned the leg strategy. It could have been easy in the new finish stretch to just start throwing bombs, but Funaki stuck to leglocks and heel hooks to try to win the match. I think the person who got to shine more in this one was Delphin. He was in the same role as spoiler to Kaientai's decimation of Sasuke's leg, BUT this time because he succeeded he looked a lot better and he got to hit more his signature offense. I can totally see why someone would like this match more because it does feel bigger and the comeback is more satisfying with the babyfaces going over. I liked the previous match because it felt more chaotic. I thought Kaientai really had to earn that heat segment last week and Delphin vs Kaientai was all over the place. I thought Sasuke gave a helluva performance hitting the right note of my leg is fucked but Im still trying. I was a mark for the heel working over the body part finally leading to a submission after all these years. Both are excellent and both should be watched. You cant go wrong! ****1/4

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