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Charles (Loss)

[2012-01-04-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki

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I’ve watched this a couple of times but I was never that high on it myself. The highest I ever recall myself going on it was ***1/2. But with a bit of context, I imagine this’ll come off better. Suzuki has been terrorizing New Japan for the past year. First taking Kojima’s stable, then getting to the (practically) semi-final of the G1 with no stop in sight. And now, he is facing the pure face of the promotion. The Ace. The Champion. Hiroshi Tanahashi. 

I liked the escalation this match had. Suzuki changing and adapting as Tanahashi began to figure him out. First on the mat, then when Suzuki starts throwing strikes and then he heads to the outside for which Tanahashi had no answer for. The match had a bit of a lull but then Suzuki began attacking the arm and that’s where the match improved tremendously. Suzuki started to show off some of his personality rather than being a bit dry early on (compared to later anyway). Tanahashi had some nice selling. Him using one arm during the slap exchange opposed to Suzuki using two was a good example of it and added to the total against the odds feel match this had. I think the match had to deal with a tough crowd, which at one point didn’t even pop for Suzuki kicking out of a High Fly Flow which probably took some of the drama that it could have. And apart from one nearfall from the Piledriver, the crowd didn’t seem to buy Suzuki winning here at all. So there are a few problems that take away. I think the overall match was fun and the post match angle is both famous (as far as what it would mean for the future of the promotion) and infamous (for its initial reception). Good main event but much more inferior to their match later in the year. ***1/2
 

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