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[2002-08-10-NJPW-G1 Climax] Yoshihiro Takayama vs Osamu Nishimura

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Yoshihiro Takayama vs Osamu Nishimura - G-1 Climax '02 Semi-finals


I wanted to like this, but it came off feeling too much like exhibition to me. There was no real sense of struggle or urgency until the latter stages of the match. There is no doubt that Nishimura was over like rover with the crowd, but I did not get the sense he really cared about winning the match. He seemed kind of like a hot dog showboat. I love Takayama, but he sort of just let Nishimura do stuff to him to pop the crowd. Nishimura has some neat little mat stuff, but it is way too cute for my taste. What bugged me the most about Nishimura' performance is how he totally no sold the cross armbreaker while in the hold. Talking about killing the drama. Even though, the crowd loved Nishimura, there seemed to be something so detestable about him. He just seemed so smug to me. Towards the end when Nishimura did a knee drop on Takayama's knee and then the figure-4, Takayama's selling finally drew me in. It finally felt like two people trying to win a match. Of course, I am going to call a spade a spade and Takayama just dropped the knee selling after that, which bothered me because Takayama working from underneath was an interesting dynamic. I have never seen Nishimura before but something about him did irk me so I did take personal pleasure when Takayama said enough with this bitchy little kicks and chopped the fuck out of his chest. Then he just chucks him across the ring twice. God Bless Takayama! That was pretty much the end of Nishimura. Nishimura get an ab stretch pin for a false finish that crowd bites on. Takayama, undeterred, hits him with an Everest German to pick up the victory.


Having only watched one match of Nishimura, I will continue to have an open mind about him that withstanding I was very underwhelmed by this match. It was a refreshing change of pace to see long stretches of matwork and no lariats, but I have seen better versions of this match and it really could have been so much more. There was plenty of good wrestling, but once again it felt like a Nishimura matwork exhibition. I thought Takayama supplied all the best parts and was the only one interested in selling during the majority of the match. It would have been cool to see Takayama work underneath if it was against a less self-indulgent opponent. It is a hard match to rate, but I will say ***1/4.

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Takayama vs Nishimura, G-1 Climax semifinal, New Japan August 10th 2002

 

Background: Takayama was a hot commodity at the time due to his famous fight in PRIDE against Don Frye, and was a main eventer in both New Japan and NOAH at the same time. Nishimura is a throwback, using '70s-style technical wrestling to combat the brutal bruiser.

 

Why I think it's underrated: G-1 finals always get the spotlight, and understandably so. This not only wasn't a final, but it wasn't wrestled as an "epic". What they do pull off admirably is the sort of style-versus-style matchup that lies at the heart of the G-1 Climax concept. Nishimura gets Takayama into his own 'Muga World' and is able to be competitive, but in the back of your mind is the nagging suspicion that Takayama can crush him with a single blow. The crowd has those same doubts...

 

What it deserves: Top 100. I don't see it as a MOTYC, but it is both distinct and memorable.

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I like Nishimura's wrestling style a lot. And you know, a part of me wants to say that Takayama is "trying to beat Nishimura at his own game" as part of the story of the match. But the realist in me says that the match was booked the way it was so that Nishimura didn't get crushed in 7 minutes. It may end up on the bottom 1/4 of the ballot for me because Takayama is actually pretty good at the slow old school matwork. But the match is lacking in terms of any kind of drama for the majority.

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This is probably my favorite Takayama in NJPW match, partially because I love Nishimura's schtick. Nishimura drags things out and takes his time but the crowd still responds. Takayama being so good at working a methodical match like this but still summoning the necessary physicality when it was time to take over shows just what a strong worker he was back then.

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Nishimura doesn't look like a pro wrestler. He's not muscular at all, he's tall but lean yet kinda has a belly. He looks like a guy off the street who maybe hits the gym sometimes. Takayama looks like an offensive lineman with his monster thighs. But this isn't a slugfest. Nishimura pops Takayama with a stiff forearm early, he's not going to be afraid, but he's working Takayama on the mat. He shows some impressive strength to bridge up off the mat and push Takayama down into a bridge. it's an impressive feat but I actually more hate the spot. It's a pure strength show for that, why would Takayama overpower him, suddenly lose that, then regain the power edge?

 

Nishimura grabs a standing headlock, tosses Takayama to the mat, then gets put into headscissors. Him escaping only to casually slap Takayama's thighs is a great little moment. Takayama's face was bracing for a big smack or kick, but nope, Nishimura is a class act. Nishimura can get the crowd to pop for his repeated escapes. Elusiveness is rarely so popular. His offense is stellar, not aesthetically but in a logical sense. Nishimura could never trade blows, throws, or suplexes with big ol' Takayama, so it's a constant battle for leverage. He tries to pull Takayama into a cross armbreaker, Takayama clutches his fingers in desperation. So how does Takayama escape? With a dazzling mat display of his own? Nah, screw that, he brute forces his way through it, lifting Nishimura up and sits him down on the turnbuckle. Big kicks to the chest drop Nishimura.

 

Nishimura finally fires back with more forearms, rocking Takayama. He even comes off the top with a knee then locks Takayama in a figure four. Takayama does a good job selling the agony. The ref counts the pin when Takayama's shoulders are down. Put me in the camp of people who think that's the right call. Not calling it a pin is wrong. Takayama gets a moment of respite by grabbing the ropes. Nishimura says that this train has no breaks, you're getting another figure four, this time in the middle of the ring.Big ass Takayama rolls over onto his stomach while Nishimura clutches onto the hold, forcing Takayama back onto his... back. Normally Takayama's selling comes from taking big offense from Kobashi or Misawa. I'm enjoying the hell out of him being worked in submissions.

 

Nishimura kicks away at Takayama's knee. You're just making him angry! Takayama SLAPS the hell out of Nishimura. Big mist of sweat flies everywhere. Nishimura putting on a sleeper gets another big pop. Takayama tosses Nishimura over and kicks him square in the back. Foolish old looking man, when will you learn? Nishimura drops out of a suplex and counters with an abdominal stretch, then like an octopus. Whatever the hell he's doing, it's putting Takayama in agony. Again Takayama has to tank his way through it.

 

Nishimura's countering Takayama like a matador dodging a bull. It's all for naught when Takayama finally gets him from behind. One massive German suplex plants Nishimura on his head and Takayama gets the three.

 

****1/2. Loved it, so very different than the rest of Takayama's stuff or the main events you see in NJPW/AJPW/NOAH. This wasn't fighting spirit, this was wily little Nishimura doing everything he could to bring down the monster. He almost did it too.

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This match is a terrific game of cat-and-mouse with Nishimura having an answer for just about everything Takayama's posing -- to the point where a frustrated Takayama sits up after another Nishimura counter like "how I keep him down?". Razor-sharp awareness from Nishimura with his reversals and bridging escapes. I loved the set-up to the figure-four sequence and Osamu really digging after the rope break, going back to the leg with a couple of spinning toeholds before re-applying the figure-four and bridging to exert more pressure. Takayama's short term selling is great but it's just that. In the end, Osamu runs out of tricks and Takayama's finally able to snag him with the German.

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I may be in the complete minority here, but I thought this wasn't as good a Nishimura/Rutten in some aspects, particularily because Takayama came across as holding back. This was still some pretty great character driven pro wrestling with a technical edge. Takayama doing those bridge up spots is wonderous. I wish he had sold the legwork a little more. Nishimuras throwback spots for massive reactions ruled as usual. Nishimura can actually set up a move or hit a pin combo that decides the match, so he never really comes across as exhibitiony. Liked Takayama just kicking him like a dog, but this is largely the Nishimura show aside from the novelty of Takayama doing technical wrestling.

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This was awesome. Osamu Nishimura’s time to shine and he takes it. Nishimura has a lot of old-timey moves - things that seem very basic on the surface - but the crowd pops for all of his signature offences, like his European Uppercuts, his Abdominal stretch into the Octopus Hold and his knee drops. Nishimura controls Takayama from the start. Takayama uses his MMA and shoot style background to good use but Nishimura counters him hold for holds which pisses off Takayama big time. Nishimura stays one step ahead of him the entire time, focusing his attacks on the leg of Takayama. I thought Takayama sold for him excellently. He was hot shit at the time with his PRIDE appearances and he made Nishimura look incredible working from beneath for him. I love how everything mattered too. Takayama had to make his moments on top last. If he spent too long on offence without putting Nishimura away, Nishimura dragged him back to the mat and worked his magic. Takayama essentially had to knock him out with 4 shots and it did just that. ****1/2 
 

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