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[2009-06-22-NOAH-Southern Navigation] Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs KENTA & Go Shiozaki

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This was a little disappointing. Shiozaki is great when he's in there with Nakajima, but once he's across from Sasaki he forgets how to sell 90% of the time and gets in a long Kobashi-esque pissing contest. KENTA tends to get way too prideful against Sasaki as well. Why Sasaki was willing to give up as much as he did to KENTA I'm not sure. Finish isn't completely overdone, but goes longer than it ought to. I'm starting to see where 2010 and beyond would be a hard thing to watch.

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Go Shiozaki & KENTA vs Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima - NOAH 6/22/09

 

I may getting burnt out on the NOAH wrestling style because I found myself constantly zoning out through this match. Up until this four match stretch (two tags against KO and two matches against Nakajima), I thought the hate towards KENTA was overblown, but he is just insufferable now. He is like a mini version of Kenta Kobashi, but a million times worst. He has gone from plucky underdog that runs a million miles an hour to world beater and I don't sell for nobody, brutha. Whereas, Sasaki versus Shiozaki rocked it in 2005 the magic just was not there with Shiozaki as the newly crown GHC Heavyweight Champion. Don't get me wrong, Shiozaki has come a long way, but he was not there yet. Nakajima just could not manage to carry three people all at once into telling a cogent story. The match felt like one big finish run. Everybody was just running around hitting moves with seemingly little to no consequence. I enjoyed how contested the Shiozaki/Sasaki matchup was. Sasaki was making him earn it and Shiozaki was slowly overcoming him, This shows how much Shiozaki has grown since 2005, but other than that I did not find many threads. They teased a Nakajima FIP segment by dropping him on the railing, but instead we got a KENTA face in peril segment. KENTA just let himself be ragdolled, but was not selling that hard. It was not a particularly brutal beating. It was a perfect microcosm of the match: well-worked, but nothing memorable. It was just a lot of action strung together with no hook. If you are an action or MOVEZ~! mark you'd love this, but there is very little weight. KENTA surprisingly sells a seemingly random kick as a knockout shot and I thought we had out hook, but two minutes later he was running around again trading suplexes with Nakajima. The finish stretch was really well-done in giving Nakajima a little love before Shiozaki crushed with lariats a suplex. It is a match I will not remember tomorrow because nothing stands out, but from a pure action point there was at least never a dull moment. ***1/4

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Shocked to see the prior two comments. Trying to compile Top 10's for 1990-now and as much as I love NOAH and all four guys in this match, I had never seen this one. I can't help but feel like if this were to happen ten years prior, it would be heralded as one of the last great All Japan matches of that era. This was unreal. KENTA was arguably at his peak in 2009 and he continued his feud with Nakajima in the most beautifully violent fashion I may have ever seen. They'd wrestled each other so many times by now that Nakajima had counters for KENTA's greatest hits and KENTA had Nakajima perfectly scouted.

 

Shiozaki and Sasaki were on fire. I thought Sasaki was the fourth best guy in the match and he had his moments of greatness.

 

I can't say enough good things about this. It's my new match of the year for 2009, edging out Danielson vs. Hero from PWG. *****

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For 2009, what are your feelings on Fujita Jr Hayato vs Koji Kanemoto and Hayato vs Sasuke (those are my top two matches of the year)? My declaration of not remembering this match was totally true. I don't remember a single spot.

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Am I the only one here who saw this when it happened?

 

I don't think it's a ***** match as I agree it could have benefited a lot from slowing things down at points, but I also think it's too harsh to treat this as a forgettable MOVEZ~! match. A few things to keep in mind regarding the working style

 

1. This is 9 days after the death of Misawa and there's people in the crowd visibly crying or holding back tears as the match goes on. Similar to how you could say Undertaker/Michaels from a few months prior wouldn't work if it was 2 mid-carders doing on a Raw broadcast, I'd argue the unapologetically work-rate oriented style of this works only when you place yourself at the emotional point the promotion was at in this period. The incredible pace of this match could be seen as a reflection of the strong promotion the 4 guys involved wanted guys to see NOAH as in the wake of Misawa's death.

 

2. There was a lot of fear about head drops after Misawa's death, so the strike-oriented style of this could be seen in retrospect as the formal beginning of NOAH's move away from aping 90's AJPW and towards the neo-80's style seen in early 2010's. On that note, I also think 80's AJPW is a better comparison than 90's AJPW for this match, though I draw a similar sentiment that if Jumbo, Misawa, Tenryu, and Kawada had a match like this 9 days after Brody's death it would be remembered very fondly.

 

I also don't really get why the magic is gone from the Shiozaki and Sasaki exchanges now that there's the added wrinkle of Shiozaki as the GHC title in the picture. This was the guy NOAH was trying to push as their new ace of the promotion, and they knew having him win it by beating Rikioh after Akiyama vacated it wasn't going to do much for him in the eyes of the fans. That's why Shiozaki, complete with his Kobashi cosplay chop exchange with Sasaki, is the most interesting guy in the match to me. It's a guy getting his opportunity to show he's The Man under some pretty shitty conditions and trying to run with it as best he can.

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This was heading towards the ****1/2+ classic territory, fantastic interactions between all 4 men in Go, KENTA, Kenskay & Nakajima, but then it went on & on. Still a great match, but not he classic it had all the potential in the world to be. Would've been much better had they trimmed it a little bit. ****

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