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[2000-12-10-NJPW-Battle Final] Minoru Tanaka vs AKIRA

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Like AKIRA's earlier match against Kanemoto this is very good but flawed. The leg selling isn't a problem here but there are some cringe worthy cliched junior spots such as the repeated missed double dropkicks that knock this down a peg or two. Kanemoto's brutal kicks keep that match a notch above this one.

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IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Minoru Tanaka vs AKIRA - NJPW 12/10/00

 

AKIRA in full regalia coming out to The Doors is why Japan is so friggin' bitchin'.

 

Unfortunately, this match is joined in progress (using the final match time we lost about 6 minutes of 17 minute match) so I will not be ranking it even though I enjoyed it. It is a great high-octane, energetic spectacle. Unlike 2007 juniors matches, they are actually bothered to sell during this match. Yes, it is often selling after the fact especially AKIRA, but at least it felt like the moves had consequence, there was a flow and they were trying to win the match. We open with AKIRA taking out Minoru's leg and Minoru trying to escape by powdering, but AKIRA follows him out with a wicked dive. AKIRA is relentless on the knee with everything including ring bell and applying a figure-4. Minoru in 2000-2001 was just so fucking locked in. He sells so well in this hold. Minoru wipes AKIRA out with a basement dropkick and applies a heel hook so the playing field is levelled. The simultaneous dropkicks and strikes on knees were the lamest part of the match. AKIRA blows off selling to hit a bridging German and a pair of big splashes. They struggle over a German and AKIRA hits the mother of all back kick nutshots, sweeps the leg and applies Figure-4. Minoru makes the ropes and FLASH TRIANGLE! I am such a Minoru Tanaka mark. They do some quick submission reversals before Minoru fights through elbows to the knee to apply a heel hook for the win. Minoru Tanaka was just on fire in this match making AKIRA look great and then scoring big with flash submissions. AKIRA blew off selling, but did have some great offense. I recommend watching the match at 11 minutes of airtime this is super fun. If we got the full thing, I would say it is probably ***3/4-****.

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This was fine. Minoru sold the leg well enough but AKIRA mostly blew off Minoru's counter legwork for his spots. As mentioned, the dueling dropkicks, etc. were bad and although the crowd was into it, it was hard for me to get into it without the context of the first 6 minutes.

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We get most of this match and it is a lot of dueling leg work. I think the growth of Tanaka has been striking to watch as he was the clear highlight here. AKIRA looked cool coming out and is fine on his attack but it is really the selling and desperation for the burst of offense that Tanaka utilizes that makes the match shine. Tanaka also had some great leg work that was moderately sold by AKIRA. Nice win for Tanaka and he is set up to be an IWGP Jr. contender for 2001. ***1/4 (6.7)

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