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Charles (Loss)

[2007-07-06-NJPW] Yuji Nagata vs Shinya Makabe

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IWGP Heavyweight Champion Yuji Nagata vs Togi Makabe - NJPW 07/06/07

I don't know if Makabe banged Nagata's wife or owes him money, but Nagata came out of the gate guns blazing. It set the tone for the rest of the match. This was not going to be a wrestling match; this was going to be a fight. It was one hellacious fight. Makabe had made the transition from junior heavyweight to heavyweight and in addition bleached his hair and joined Great Bash Heel, which to the shock of no one is a heel New Japan stable. I love the matchup between the Ace and a pure heel brawler because you get so many technically proficient title matches. It is always a great change of pace to watch a violent Japanese brawl. Especially since Nagata's biggest problem is that he is so, so dry. He exuded real hate in this match and you felt that he wanted to destroy Makabe. Makabe for his part went balls to the wall heel using every dirty trick and just being a general asshole. Right off the bat, he tries to duck out the ropes to stall and Nagata ain't having any of that and Makabe straight away goes for the eyes, but Nagata will not denied. That hot opening establishes everything you need to know about these two. Nagata is willing to fight fire with fire brawling in the crowd and chairshots, but the ref keeps getting in his way and he ends up wearing a chair for a collar around his neck, always a nasty visual. Makabe busts out scissors and rips Nagata's forehead open. I'm sold, I love this match! Makabe works the cut and sends Nagata to the wolves and a melee ensues with the Young Boys attempting a save. While Makabe is complaining about the ref's count, Nagata fires up and hits these HUGE elbows. These are fuckin Misawa-level elbows and Makabe is covered in blood. I am a sucker for the double juice! Nagata looks to rip Makabe's arm off and when he makes the ropes the ref has to tackle Nagata off him. This is intense! GBH is in and it is mayhem! Nagata beats them back. Makabe hits a low blow on a back drop driver attempt. He hits a German and Death Valley Driver, but only gets two! Makabe flips the crowd off and wraps his arm in the chain, but the ref sees it and won't count. That ref has some big cajones to stand up to this lunatic. A chair is discreetly slipped in (I had to rewind to catch it) and Makabe piledrives Nagata on it. When the ref sees the chair, he flips the fuck out and bounces against the mat. This ref deserves a cut of the gate he is working overtime to put this whole shebang over. Makabe misses King Kong Knee Drop triggering the finish stretch. Back drop driver and Makabe kicks out at 1 and beats on his chest. Nagata kicks his head off twice and then hits a back drop driver to polish him off.

I love chaos, violence and brutality. This matchup had it in spades. Everyone including the ref had their roles down pat. This is the best that Nagata has ever looked as the New Japan ace. He was fighting for pride and the championship. Makabe was such a low-down heel. There was such urgency and struggle throughout. This along with Kobashi/Ogawa has been one of my favorite finds from doing this project. I need to rewatch it again to finalize my rating, but I am going err on the high side and go ****1/2

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The beginnings of this were great. Brawling around the ring with lots of hate and venom, great way to start a match. Things start to fall apart with the dragging around by the head, but I'm willing to let it pass. The ref grabs a chair when Nagata is going to use it on Makabe after kicking it into his face. Makabe uses this to turn the tides and grabs the chair. Makabe hits Nagata with the chair 4 times while the ref is nowhere to be found. Did he get lost? There are ways to set this kind of thing up better, especially given how Japanese referees are viewed. Then during the heat segment, makabe clearly has a chain wrapped around his arm and is going to hit Nagata with it. Ref sees this, but oh my, one of Makabe's buddies is on the apron. This again undermines the NJPW head ref in a big and incredibly bad way. I know that this kind of stuff was pretty common in American wrestling. But you look at referees like Joe Higuchi and Kyohei Wada and this kind of shit would not have flown on their watch. They would be in there shoving that heel around with no regard for whether or not they got hit by whatever illegal object they were holding. Then Nagata gets his big comeback and the ref...physically pulls him off of Makabe in the corner. Once again, what the FUCK? Ref saves some face by not counting a few foreign object-assisted finisher type things, but the damage has been done in my book. Finish goes too long for the condition these guys are in by a long way. I really wanted to like this because it had a Southern brawl feel to it that you don't get a lot in japan. Only problem with that is a lot of the big heel moments were inadvertently or not ref-assisted, which is really out of place in this setting. Find a better way to do those and this is a great match.

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Well this was something. We really haven't gotten too many great brawls in this project, but Nagata and Makabe delivered a great fucking brawl. Makabe obviously set the tone by goring the champ with weapons and doing an epic blade job on himself. But Nagata fought back with awesome intensity, to the point where I almost regret calling him boring so many times over the years. He absolutely took me on the ride with this one, fighting off a maniac challenger and his minions.

 

I'm right there with dawho5 in decrying the overly elaborate finishing runs that plagued Japanese wrestling in these years. But I did not agree in this case. The intensity never waned. I also thought the ref was fine, portraying an authority figure overwhelmed by an insane situation.

 

In these votes, I always reward the matches that stick with me, and I have no doubt this one will stick with me.

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Can't believe I actually choose to sit down and watch a random Togi Makabe match. I'm so glad I did.

 

You don't see bloodbaths like this anymore. Pure hatred. Makabe controls the match until Nagata slips the challenger into the corner and pulverizes him with elbows, putting Makabe on the high end of the Muta scale. All the weapon spots and interference is fine, but all the drama with the referee looking like an idiot hindered this a tad.

 

At one point in this match, Nagata slaps Makabe so hard, specs of blood fly onto the camera and I don't think I can summarize this match better than that moment.

 

★★★★½

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