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[2013-10-05-NOAH-Great Voyage] KENTA vs Katsuhiko Nakajima

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GHC Heavyweight Champion KENTA vs Katsuhiko Nakajima - NOAH 10/5/13

If you like dudes kicking each other in the chest really hard a lot and I mean a lot, a lot, this match is for you! Whats funny was about 15 minutes into this 33 minute match I decided that was going to be my opening line, but they just kept kicking each other in the chest. They never let up. From the opening bell to pretty much the close, they were kicking each other in the chest. I am not even complaining. I was both impressed by their commitment and their form. Both men are two of the best kickers in wrestling. Their kicks are as elegant as they are powerful. They did employ a wide variety of kicks. I am not exaggerating when I say about 50% of the match was them kicking each other in the chest. 

Nakajima is one of my favorites. I know I bring up the story every time, but I really want to put Nakajima over. I loved him so much in 2009, I forced my friend with a car to take me to the ROH show in Detroit in 2009 so I could see him live. His opponent was Kenny Omega, at the time never heard of and never would have thought it was him not Nakajima who was destined to main event the Tokyo Dome. Nakajima is a beautiful offensive wrestler and does a great job in this match. 

About 5 minutes in, KENTA kicks the ring post. This is always a dicey proposition in a KENTA match because invariably KENTA is going to run a million miles per hour into a dropkick. They navigate this pretty well. Nakajima does the old staple of the kneecrusher on the announce table which is always over in my house. The key is they dont work on it too long and KENTA actually makes a very tasteful comeback that is focused on the head and holds allowing him to recuperate. The transitions are very solid. For the most part, they take advantage of a charging opponent and it is a last ditch, desperation move that involves ramming their head into something hard. So it was not always the most original, but they were effective and logical so I dug that. Nakajima did dropkick the knee and get the Figure-4 to sort of put a bow on that. KENTA returned with the STF as the beginning half wound down. 

The match picked up when KENTA executed a drop toehold on a charging Nakajima into the railing. Nasty and I love that spot. Nakajima had been controlling for a while with you guessed it kicks to the chest. KENTA hung him out to dry on the steel railing and then hit a DOUBLE STOMP FROM THE TOP TO FLOOR! OK! OK! I SEE YOU!

KENTA starts flying with the dropkicks in the corner, but it has been a while so I feel this is fair. Double Stomp from the top. First meaningful nearfall. Nakajima avoids certain defeat of the G2S. Nakajima returns the favor with a drop toehold into the middle turnbuckle and rifles the turnbuckle pad into KENTA's face. Nakajima hits BRUTAL side kicks to the head of KENTA. It was a merciless onslaught that I dont know how KENTA Survived. Nakajima nailed his big finish, the Brainbuster for two. I know the end is nigh.

They do a very All Japan sequence of bombs and no selling then all of sudden they are both down. The biggest miscue of the match but it was short and this levels the playing field. Now I am assuming, KENTA was just going to go into cruise control once they both got back on their feet and take the win. They sell exhaustion and attrition well. Then kicks to the chest start coming. Nakajima gets two more nearfalls. One is a sick German. The one thing I remember from Nakajima/Omega all these years later is Nakajima's German. So beautiful. The best nearfall is the next one. KENTA is teeing off on Nakajima with open hand slaps. It is brutal and then all of sudden Nakajima CLOBBERS KENTA with a kick to the head. If this was a shoot fight, KENTA never came back up I would have believed it. He wrapped his foot around that head and smoked him. It was amazing. Great nearfall. KENTA storms back with a FURIOUS BARRAGE OF SLAPS to the head. Just brutal. Kicks to the head and exposed knee Go 2 Sleep! Awesome finish!

I loved their 2009 matches in 2009 it is what turned me onto Nakajima. Much to my chagrin, when I went back and watched them in 2013, I didnt like them that much anymore, but I thought this awesome. It was a bit repetitive in spots and the beginning was kinda meaningless, but the last 15 minutes is gold. Great transitions and escalation and the finish run is wicked exciting and dramatic. My favorite match between these two. ****1/4 

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