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Charles (Loss)

[2001-12-09-NOAH-Navigation in Raging Ocean] Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Naomichi Marufuji

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I only really enjoy Takaiwa matches when he is in the ring with wrestlers I like. Sometimes that isn't even enough for me. Unfortunately I'm in the Marufuji hate camp so as you can imagine, I didn't like this.

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Takaiwa vs. Marufuji - December 9, 2001

Really good match and storytelling, although not structured to be truly great to me. I assume this title change was Marufuji's coming out party, and I loved the very beginning of the match, with Marufuji's superkick and immediate collapsing of the damage reminding me of Shawn Michaels. Takaiwa tried to make an example out of the younger challenger throughout the match, having the match done with but choosing to continue dishing punishment. That would be his downfall, as throughout the rest of the match Marufuji would not be denied and earned the Jr. Championship to a wonderful reaction. ***3/4

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Man, Takaiwa is such a boring dude to watch. The crowd seems extremely uninterested in him when he's not hitting huge slams and powerbombs. Him trying to heel it up is pretty poorly executed too. Maufuji, on the other hand, is someone I have no interest in watching when he's not teaming with KENTA. Here he comes across as a guy who takes a beating, but still wants to get all of his stuff in, so of course he does. So this is really rough to sit through. It's only 22 minutes long, but it feels like it's more than that.

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I like both guys even if they are flawed and they gel extremely well together. Takaiwa simply mauls Marufuji here and destroys his leg too. A great performance that played to his strengths. Marufuji turns in a pretty great underdog and selling performance. 2001 MOTYC. ****1/4

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