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[2011-01-30-DDT-Sweet Dreams] Dick Togo vs Antonio Honda

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Previously at PWO:

 

Dick Togo vs Antonio Honda (DDT 01/30/11)

This is my favorite match of 2011, the first real classic I've seen from the year, and something that would hold up well next to almost any match ever. Stiff as hell with really engaging matwork and nice psychology. Togo sells his ass off for Honda's tremendous attack on his arm, which starts right from the opening bell and which probably wasn't too difficult considering the beating he was taking. Honda lands a beautiful tope. Togo rallies a nice babyface comeback and makes Honda pay for his crimes, with Honda covered in blood and falling prey to some incredible punches from Togo. But Honda still has some fight in him and delivers an amazing comeback on his own. Every time I think this match has peaked, it peaks higher. Some really outstanding and desperate nearfalls in the last few minutes of this and a nice decisive finish. Just a brutal match and a total war. This is what wrestling is all about, and if I ever had a compilation commissioned of my all-time favorite wrestling stuff, this would absolutely be on it.

 

 

That is incredibly high praise. I'll have to check this out.

 

 

Here is my Segunda Caida review of that match

 

Dick Togo v. Antonio Honda DDT 1/30/11-EPIC

 

The Dick Togo singles match train continues. Gem after gem, his last six months have been incredible. Honda is a comedy guy an used to be Togo's partner in the DDT Italian Horseman. This is clearly the match of his life, and I give him a ton of credit for stepping up and bringing it to Togo like he did. Early part of the match had Honda working over Togo's arm. Togo did a really nice job selling, and it makes total sense to give him a ding to make Honda's offense credible, still Honda's attack was a little pedestrian. Match really kicks it into gear when Honda hits a nice tope and comes up bloody. After that, the match morphs into a Mid South Coliseum main event, with Togo working over the bloody babyface and Honda making awesome valiant comebacks. Togo has him in the corner, smashing his head into the turnbuckle and punching him, and Honda does a full on Lawler 1986 TX Death Match comeback, dropped strap, 17 punch combo ending in a huge uppercut for a near fall. Such a neat moment, which Togo sold perfectly. We get a big near fall run, which is really something that Dick Togo does better then anyone in the world, and then take a trip back to TN with an awesome punch Lawler v. Mantel style toe to toe punch exchange. Hell of match, the kind of thing only Dick Togo can deliver in 2011. If he really retires in June it will be at the height of his game, like Jordan leaving in 93, lets hope Togo does a season of minor league baseball and returns to the game

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Dick Togo vs Antonio Honda - DDT 1/30/11

 

I don't know who Antonio Honda is, but he was a fucking star in this. He was like best possible Japanese combination of Arn Anderson/Jerry Lawler in this. Hyper focused arm work and then amazing Lawler style comeback complete with one of the best damn punch-based comebacks I have ever seen (like right up there with Lawler in the Bock match). Dick Togo sold his ass off here just like in the match with Sato, but the work from Honda matched his and this is was a stellar match.

 

Honda gains the upper hand by tangling him into a deathlock. The selling by Togo is incredible especially verbal and Honda rolls expertly and quickly so that he can settle into a hammerlock. This becomes the crux of the beginning of the match with Honda working these hammerlock into great old school pinning combinations. Really feels like the best possible Arn Anderson match being match with it being paired by the superb selling. A good example about how Togo has been affected is when he goes for his backslide/Pedigree spot that he cant do it due to his bad arm. Togo is able to hit a desperation kneelift and then a senton. He is targeting the midsection, but does not seem to be making in-roads. I really liked Honda grabbing a double wristlock to break a bodyscissors with Togo releasing the hold immediately and really selling it. Honda goes for the kill with a cross armbreaker, but Togo rolls on his belly, but still a painful armbar. Togo makes the ropes, his only saving grace. Togo ends up on the outside and Honda wants to finish Togo off and hits a big suicide dive, BUT HE HURTS HIMSELF!!! I love it! Really puts over the SUICIDE in Suicide Dive. He is busted open and Togo actually gets control due to Honda overextending himself. Very cool. Togo rakes the forehead by boot and is working the cut with punches. Beautiful. Honda's selling here is all time great and he is matching Togo and maybe he is exceeding Togo. Then HONDA JUST EXPLODES!!! JERRY LAWLER-ESQUE PUNCH COMEBACK! Just absolutely fires you up!!! Dragon Suplex! Never seen The King or Double A do that, but he is Japanese. :) Perfect Arn Anderson-style DDT. But misses the Jerry Lawler middle rope fist drop. Togo gets desperation crossface because Honda is wrestling like a man possessed, but he loses strength in his arm!!! Tries Pedigree, but cant hood arm settles for Diamond Cutter. Was Togo gimmick that he loved the Attitude Era??? He hits Pedigree, but then crashes & burns on Senton. Enforcer DDT and HITS THE FIST DROP! Kick out. He is toast. But he goes down swinging with one of the all time best punch exchanges. It is like two Jerry Lawlers punching each other. Some of the best simultaneous punches ever. Togo gets the better of the exchange and wins with Pedigree/Senton.

Simple, elegant and just so damn Southern, but in Japan. Selling was superb. Honda wrestled the match of his life against Togo first attacking the arm then having to make a comeback from his own move in spectacular fashion! I loved the build to end with each man hitting their set up move then missing the finish. Only to go back to that well and when Togo finally wins it; it is through the punch exchange to earn him his finish sequence. Really incredible matches. One of those matches you can watch completely in a vacuum (hell I have seen like 5 Togo matches and never seen a Honda match) and just be totally blown away by it. A Southern Classic in 2011 Japan is just awesome. ****3/4

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This might be my very favorite pure bell-to-bell match ever, because of how it works in both kayfabe and reality. Togo is brilliant and proves it better than he had ever before or since, giving Honda some utterly amazing selling on his armwork. But Honda does so many little perfect things, like how he rolls over Togo's back after an early leglock. He does SO MANY little things that are just him knowing that Togo taught him everything he has and that he just has to make up for that, his lack of athleticism, the fact that he knows that he's not as good as Dick, SOMEHOW. Those wild swinging punchdrunk hooks. And of course that amazing tope. And Togo absolutely pulls off some small but canny moves in the early going that just seem wonderful, like the kick to the gut/bodyscissors combo because he knows, of course, that Honda is not a sterling athlete. If you do a close reading on a match you like, you'll always scope things that you like just because you want extra reasons, but Honda's GREAT Dragon suplex that he can't immediately bridge is a PERFECT nearfall.

 

Even the cover is beautiful, with Togo giving Honda the respect to do the crossover double leg hook even though the Pedigree/senton combo is obviously enough to win it. It's a great Southern match, it's a great lucha match, it's a great puro match, it's a great "champ vs. champ" match, it's a great "who's the better man" match, it's a great "student vs. teacher" match. Just a great match.

 

Also, we are REALLY lucky to get the version we have without commentary, because it 1) enhances the match so, so much with this being such a snug, tight match AND 2) there's something just incredible about the way that the opening of "Insane in the Membrane" hits almost immediately after the bell as this perfect release of pressure. Add in the really good secondships by Daisuke Sasaki for Honda & Yasu Urano for Togo and it's a great atmosphere/presentation.

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Just watched this match this afternoon. Easily now my favorite Dick Togo match ever. I just like the continuity in Togo's selling from beginning to the end. Togo struggling to hit that Pedigree everytime to set up his Senton Bomb because of the beating he's taking on the arm. I also like the analogy made with Jerry Lawler for Antonio Honda because it's really what it looked like during the match. The visual of Honda & Togo punching each other senseless towards the end was awesome.

 

I can't recommend this match enough. One of the best puro matches I ever saw.

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I would add to the praise of Honda and say his performance here is also influensed heavily by Yuki Ishikawa. I saw him as Ishikawa somehow inexplicably combined with Jerry Lawler for a few moments, but in the best way possible. The early arm work was very good, but would have been more towards okay to good if not for Togo's incredible selling and Honda's going back to it later on in the match. Togo's working over of the cut is all kinds of awesome. The Lawler comeback from Honda is easily the best I have seen not coming from Lawler himself. I liked the nearfalls and avoiding of big moves section, very well done and I give Togo all the credit in the world for putting it in there. It sets up the next sequence with both getting frustrated and punching each other in the face repeatedly so well. I a no big fan of modern strike exchanges, but this one really captures the idea of two guys who have thrown everything at one another and just got pissed off that nothing worked. And the selling was there, which always makes the exchange better. Both being punch drunk and stumbling into one another was an incredibly nice touch. Excellent match and easily in my top 5 matches post 2000 that I have seen.

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This match wraps everything I love about pro-wrestling into the perfect little DDT package. Fantastic and brutal psychology, focused limbwork, tremendous selling, great comebacks, and one of the best slugfests this side of the Mexican border. The comedy shtick was coat checked at the door and these two went to battle. Watching Honda in control of the arm makes me nostalgic for this Honda. Togo tries to arm drag Honda off but Honda holds on and even when Dick is able to toss him off, Honda’s right back on the arm like a puppy on a chew toy. When Togo’s got him in the body scissors, Honda takes advantage of the injured arm in order to escape. Togo’s selling of the left arm, his vocal expressions, the failed Pedigree attempts, the arm giving out on the crossface hold, all add something genuine to the narrative that is often absent from most modern wrestling matches. When Honda injures himself on the dive, Togo seizes on the opportunity, focusing his attack on Honda’s busted forehead. There’s such an awesome visual of Honda swinging wild with blood in his eyes, desperate to fight off Togo, who continues to bully him around the ring, banging his head into the corner. When Honda finally snaps, it’s a thing of beauty as he unloads on Togo with hellfire punches and dragon suplexes him! When neither man can’t seal the deal with their offense and missed finishes, they collide in a fury of punches and beat the shit out of each other until Honda can’t take it anymore and Togo is able to defeat him with that well-built Pedigree and diving senton. My favorite DDT match and one of the all-time greats.

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