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[2011-10-10-NJPW-Destruction] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito

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This has been a feud that's been going for a while now. Naito has beaten Tanahashi a few times now, once in the New Japan Cup in 2010, got Tanahashi to a draw, which was a win for Naito at that stage and then in the G1 in 2011, but this was his big shot at the title. The match had was a bit bland for the first half of the match, Naito dominating Tanahashi, establishing himself as a force and Tanahashi working the leg but it was very paint by numbers. The match got better as the match progressed when there was little more back and forth and Naito looking to finish off Tanahashi. Tanahashi's dragon screws near the end added some nice drama to it with Naito having to sell the leg much more and it having a bigger factor into the match. The tap out tease with Tanahashi locking on the cloverleaf was excellent. Naito began to come alive while making his comebacks which I liked a lot. It was the only time he really seemed to have any fire. The finish was decent but wasn't that homerun they were going for. The match I think really tried to have that epic feel that solidifies Naito as a main eventer but so much of the match was just generic and was done so much better in most Tanahashi title defences of the year (Nakamura, Goto, Kojima, etc). Don't get me wrong, this had a ton of good things in it but it just left you with the feeling of disappointment at the same time. ***1/4


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Thanks for the background information about how the younger Naito had a gotten a couple high profile wins over Tanahashi at this point in his career. 

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito - NJPW 10/10/11

Naito has "Polvo De Estrellas" on his tights. I was like why does he have "Octopus of the Stars" on his tights? Apparently Polvo means "Dust" in Spanish. I am Portuguese and Polvo means Octopus so I was very confused. Naito's finish was the Stardust Press so having Stardust on his tights makes a lot more sense.

I really enjoyed the front half of this title defense. I was informed that Naito really had Tanahashi number at this point scoring high-profile victories at the New Japan Cup the previous year and at the 2011 G-1 Climax. So this was his big break could he win when it matters the most with the Championship on the line. I really enjoyed the first five minutes of amateur chain wrestler. I thought they did a superb job. Tanahashi was a dick and his two big body punches in the corner drawing boos. Naito unleashes a dropkick to cheers. The crowd definitely seemed behind the young challenger. Tanahasi grabs the knee and hits a kneecrusher. The knee work was short-lived as Tanahashi missed a HUGE somersault splash from the apron to the floor. He really threw himself into that bump. Then Naito hit a massive dropkick from the apron to the floor sending Tanahashi crashing back first into the railing in a nasty spot. They really did a great job milking this injury. Everything was targeting the back of the head/neck. I loved Tanahashi going for the leg but Naito responds with an Enziguiri. Not only does it stymie Tanahashi but it targets the very part of Tanahashi that is weak. Great stuff! I loved Tanahashi's wails of agony everytime Naito went after the neck. Theres a great moment where Tanahashi repeatedly ducks Naito's swings at his head and unleashes a fury of chops. Really cool stuff. Tanahashi hits his running forearm and then his Somersault Senton, but he gets caught in a running race and Naito sweeps the leg. Tanahashi dropkicks the plant leg out from Naito to avoid an enziguiri. Tanahashi wrestles Naito into a Capture Suplex, great struggle. High Fly Flow eats knees. Naito snaps off a Top Rope Frankensteiner. He crashes & burns on the Stardust Press. Both men have attempted their finisher and failed. Who will be able to pull the trigger first?

They are in opposite corner and they come out charging like two Rams. Tanahashi hits a dropkick to the knee and Naito powders. High Fly Flow to the outside! The crowd is rocking! Dragon Leg Screws abound! Deep Texas Cloverleaf! This is classic Tanahashi at its finest. They do fighting spirit only Tanahashi is too much man and just smacks the piss out of Naito repeatedly. Lame transition as Tanahashi shoots Naito off and Naito hits a flying elbow. This is Naito's big stretch with a couple suplexes and it climaxes with STARDUST PRESS! 1--2-NO! Huge heat on that. Naito has Tanahashi on his shoulders on the top rope. Dont know what he is going to do. They do a terrible Sling Blade counter. Both men just take a nasty spill. They do a great job with a frenetic pace there is this weird Lucha cradle Naito does that pops me and the crowd huge. It was the urgency with which he hit it and the way he sold it while he was holding Tanahashi down that sold it for me. Tanahashi wrangles him into a SLING BLADE! The setup was perfect. Dragon Suplex gets two. Naito is on his belly trying to crawl away but no one can escape the High Fly Flow! One more for good measure!

Great Tanahashi title defense! Great dueling psychology to open, loved each man missing his big finish in the middle match. Tanahashi goes back to the leg and Naito ends up overcoming it long enough to hit the Stardust Pres, but it is not enough. Loved the finish stretch. This is Big Match Tanahashi at his finest. ****1/4 



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