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[2007-11-11-NJPW-Destruction] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto


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  • 5 months later...

So early match is again perfectly good. Could do with more selling of the leg by Goto, a lot more, during his offense but that's the one strike against it. On a side not, what the fuck is with the NJPW head ref? Is he supposed to be a heel ref? Or is it just a bad attempt by NJPW to have American style ref problems in their matches? He very rarely physically interjects himself when it's a heel, but boy, once a face gets fired up and throws down on a heel, we better get control of this thing. The finishing sequence actually features some leg work by Tanahashi, which is still nosold. Tanahashi again dies several times on bumps and kicks out. Then comes back instantly without selling any of the damage when he gets a counter in. Finish actually plays off of the legwork, but a lot of bullshit in between kills it.

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  • 2 months later...

IWGP Heavyweight Champion HiroshI Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto - NJPW 11/11/07


This time period has been a real eye-opener for me because I never knew Tanahashi worked full-blown heel in his matches.You can draw many parallels between Cena and Tanahashi. One respect was I thought once both got on top they worked as top faces, but here is Tanahashi working heel as the champion in his home promotion. Not surprisingly, it was a great match because I have seen Tanahashi work on top as a face in a match and that is much harder than working on top as a heel.


Can Goto look and wrestle anymore cookie cutter? He is the Platonic Ideal of a 00s Strong Style Warrior. Suwama, from All Japan, also fits the generic mold that they are super-serious, lariat-hitting, Kensuke Sasaki-wannabes. I prefer Swuama over Goto in the two matches I have seen because he does a bit more character and color. However, I liked the Goto match as a whole better than the Suwama match, but they are very close. This all being said, if you are going to do the ultra-serious, proud Strong Style Warrior gimmick there is no better opponent than the cocky pretty boy. Tanahashi has this down pat. I will get into this more in the Suwama match, but Tanahashi is gold as the travelling NWA Champion. The beginning of the Suwama match, I thought I was watching Hiroshi Flair vs Lex Suwama. I know NJPW probably has Tanahashi on lock down, but if you are the WWE he is the Japanese pro wrestler to get, not KENTA because Tanahashi understands American psychology way better inherently than KENTA.


From these 2007 Tanahashi matches, I really believe that his working the leg is different than the way we think of it here in America. He is not necessarily setting something up. Yes, he does have the Texas Cloverleaf, but that is not always his endgame. He is using it to level the playing field. Most of his opponents are better at him at a certain thing. For instance Nagata will out-strike and out-mat wrestle you. Suwama and Goto can outpower him. However, Tanahashi is incredibly well-rounded. He is really good at everything, but not amazing at one skill. So if he messes up your leg, now you are favoring something and this allows Tanahashi not to exploit the leg necessarily, but remove your advantage, Now at a level playing field, he can hit his preferred spots and to build to a victory. Either that or I am overanalyzing and he is just a Mutoh mark. I like my explanation better though. :)


With that mind, let us see how it fits. Tanahashi is a general dick early so GOTO SMASH~! In desperation, Tanahashi smashes his head into turnbuckle and while dazed he hits the Dragon Leg Screw. It stops the bleeding and allows Tanahashi to catch his breath, set the pace and attack the knee. Tanahashi is great at attacking the knee and it becomes even better with those heel special effects (the posing and bad-mouthing). I love how the bad-mouth leads to a Goto lariat hope spot. Tanahashi does the Dragon Sleeper reversal, which pops the crowd, but he should probably refrain from that since he is the heel. Tanahashi starts running through his splashes and then goes for the kill with a German on the apron. That is the ticket, the leg work opened up this part of his game, which would not have been afforded to him due to Goto's power advantage. Goto gets chippy -> BOOM! Dragon Leg Screw. Tremendous cutoff.


The Goto transition is a little lame as he bashes Tanahashi's head into apron. It is a good transition because it causes a plenty of damage, but is a bit too out of nowhere. Goto runs through a surprising amount of high flying stuff, which you wished he would sell the knee, but Tanahashi picks up the slack. Then in one of the most shocking surprises of the decade, a strike exchange that actually goes somehwere. I know after zoning out for 2-5 minutes a match in this decade, you actually have to watch this one because it is important. Goto loses his cool and starts hammering Tanahashi with closed fists to the point he is booed. The ref admonishes him, but he throws him down. Tanahashi punts him in the balls and now the boo birds are really out. Excellent, excellent work! Put a little sympathy on Tanahashi and then he reminds you he is a total prick. Now if the match ended after the Tanahashi barrage of offense (suplexes, High Fly Flow, Cloverleafs). This is yet another MOTDC. It is getting ridiculous by the way how stupid this is becoming. That these matches could be on par with previous decades if they just went home. When all is said and done, I will most likely be a Tanahashi supporter in the Great Hiroshi Tanahashi Debate. However, if the second Nagata match and this match ended at the right times, I would already be on the bandwagon beating his drum as loudly as Meltzer. He is sooooo painfully close to being an all-time great. You need to know when to go home.


That being said this finish does not kill the match dead and there still some good in it. I agree that Goto needed some more nearfalls to be credible and be seen in the upper midcard, which you probably should have fitted in before the ballshot, but that is fine. I did like the story of Tanahashi going Ricky Steamboat with nearfall barrage in an effort to save his title, but in the process on one of them he gets dropped on his neck. They sell this as a shoot injury with ringsiders going in to check on him and Goto throws the, Goto does a great job focusing on the neck, but once he goes all out on the neck it becomes overkill. Tanahashi should not be able to comeback with anything unless Goto fucks up or catches him by surprise. There is of course Tanahashi bridging on his bad neck. Fuck! They were so close. Tanahashi hits High Flow Fly on the knees and the Cloverleaf secures the victory. ****1/4

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  • 1 month later...

I just watched this because of the good review it good and what an abomination this was. If I want to watch random moves strung together there's plenty of better joshi available. Tanahashi was pretty good in the first couple minutes and if he'd always work like that I might actually like him, but as soon as the leg work started this turned into endless timekilling, popping up after big spots in order to passionately run through offense, the heavyweight badass working like a US indy junior, etc. My favourite part was when Goto did the lift up the knees-spot to counter Tanahashi's finisher and teased selling his legs only to get up and casually hit Tanahashi with his finisher. Boy that didn't go as planned. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of stuff that would easily qualify as good or great if used by competent workers, but here it was all lost in a shuffle of bad selling and random transitions. Goto levels Tanahashi's shit with a badass lariat? Tanahashi immediately pops up and hits a Dragon Screw, which Goto also ignores. Goto rocks Tanahashi with a series of stiff punches? Tanahashi kicks him in the balls then passionately runs through his signature spots. Goto spikes Tanahashi on his head, teasing a dangerous neck injury and continues to work over it in brutal fashion? Tanahashi hits a random counter and pops up once again. This would have been awesome if it were 20 minutes and laid out by WWE road agents.

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Yes, WWE Road Agents that sterilize everything, neuter all heels, abhor limb psychology, and have the most artificial and least significant transitions. Watching WWE main event matches not involving Rusev or Sheamus is one of the most cold, mechanical and passionless exhibitions of sports entertainment that have ever existed. The only part where there were "random" transitions was in the end where the WWE lives and dies on the abrupt, arbitrary finisher transitions to pop the crowd. The problem of course with most WWE matches is the entire match is littered with video game transitions here in this match it was at least limited to the finish run.

I do not see how they once deviated from the storyline of Strong Style Warrior vs Pretty Boy Prick with smart transitions and fundamentals. The strike exchange in this match was the best strike exchange of any puroresu 2000s and a perfect microcosm of the actual match. Goto loses his temper and lets the closed fists fly, a big no no in Japan, it feels significant. The ref admonishes him and BOOM nut shot. That's the story of the match if Goto could get Tanahashi he would kick his ass, but Tanahashi take advantage of every opportunity with fundamentals. Like I said in my review if they ended their with usual Tanahashi finish run this was Match of the Decade contender. They extended it out, but it is still a great match. I have no clue when either of them hit a "random" move before the ballshot. After the ballshot, the most egregious issue is that Tanahashi was selling a "shoot" neck injury and then ends up bridging on the neck and winning clean.


I thought this was a smartly worked match especially unique to Japan in this timeframe that had an overkill finish, but still accomplished telling the story of the Strong Style Warrior being outfoxed by the Pretty Boy Prick.

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I feel like I could name a dozen WWE matches from the last couple years that I liked better than this. And I don't even watch the promotion much.


I don't see how it was much different from your usual Tanahashi match, considering he often faces these "strong style warrior" types. He did his usual legwork and dragon screws. Maybe I'm spoiled as Destroyer/Mascaras was one of the first japanese matches I saw and I love the resistance to basic moves and holds in Santo/Casas or Jaguar Yokota matches, but I wasn't blown away but what was going on here. How exactly does a Pretty Boy work? By hitting pretty moves I guess which Tanahashi did here, but that doesn't really make for quality action. I guess a Pretty Boy would make sure his face was alright, similiar to Buddy Rose in the Martel match with the wig, in which case Tanahashi should've checked on his nose after getting punched, or prance around to make sure everyone was aware of his good looks. Again, I thought nothing in this match was bad looking and would've been great if it had meant something. Instead Tanahashi does this low blow in front of the referee and quickly hits a few moves to reestablish his unphased dominance. Compare this Ogawa/Kobashi (a much better skinny boy vs. tank match) where Ogawa hits a desperation low blow while the ref is not looking then collapses. That was in some way the story of this match - both guys establishing that they didn't care for the offense that the other got in on them. For me, a good match is one where every move counts, so a match where no move counts is the opposite. You mention that this only got bad as soon as they went towards the finish, but I felt like that when Tanahashi started working the leg.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2007-11-11-NJPW-Destruction] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto

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