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Superstar Sleeze

[2004-01-04-NJPW-Wrestling World 2004] Yuji Nagata vs Kensuke Sasaki

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Yuji Nagata vs Kensuke Sasaki - NJPW 01/04/04

 

Up until the finish, I thought this was a classic, bloody, Dome brawl. I was perplexed why no one talked about this match until that finish, which takes it down quite a bit. Sasaki returns, but not to a hero's welcome. No, he must have been portrayed as a turncoat for leaving Inoki's New Japan to join a short-lived Choshu's promotion that would focus more on pro wrestling. Sasaki fit the 90s New Japan Strong Style well, but Sasaki stuck out like a sore thumb in Inoki's MMA-influenced New Japan of the early 2000s, but he comes back here to challenge Inoki's boy, Yuji Nagata at the Dome. Without the title on the line and New Japan in its nadir in terms of critical quality, I can see why this is overlooked, but I thought this was awesome.

 

They are chippy before the match starts and have to be held back during introductions. It feels like Sasaki is a Choshu-like invader taking on the Hero of New Japan. They just stand up and duke it the fuck out. Sasaki rocks him with a slap to the ear. Nagata tries to fight back and Sasaki hits him a lariat. Sasaki goes for the cross-armbreaker to win the match, but Nagata retreats to the outside. Sasaki whips him into the railing and goes for the chair. Nagata in desperation smokes the chair back into Sasaki's face with a wicked kick. Sasaki does a nice blade job. Sasaki gets a lariat to back of Nagata's head and sends him head-first into the post. Nagata does a nasty, gory blade job. We get the double juice and Nagata & Sasaki stand up in the ring and just throw haymakers, headbutts and strikes. It was fucking awesome. Nagata is left in the middle ring laying and you can see the pool of blood forming around the back of the head. Sasaki just goes vampire crazy gnawing on Nagata and then headbutting him. Sasaki gloats and the New Japan crowd boos loudly. Damn! Northern Lights Bomb! He chooses to go for the ten count. He goes for it again, but Nagata gets a wild kick to the head that rocks Sasaki. Nagata follows it up and you really feel like it going to build to this awesome finish and be a slam dunk 2004 match of the year contender, but then Nagata just puts Sasaki in the Rings of Saturn for like 60-90 seconds until Sasaki passes out. It was very anticlimatic. Up until the finish, a damn exciting brawl. I loved the visual of the double juice with them standing up and just trading strikes in the middle of the ring. Sasaki was actually playing a good heel. Definitely worth a look and see.

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You don't see a brawling bloodbath in the Dome every day, a very intriguing match and definitely worth a watch. There is no wasted movement in the opening as they immediately fire at each other with slaps and forearms, but the match really picks up once they start bleeding. Sasaki catapulting Nagata into the ringpost with a Lariat to the neck ruled and the ringpost shots themselves were well done too. Face punching makes for good wrestling, Nagata's selling can often verge into silliness, but it was oddly fitting as he was selling dizziness from blood loss. Kensuke not even going for covers and just nuking Nagata with Lariats and repteadly punching him ruled, and provided a nice alternative to Nagata kicking out of a million moves. Nagata's flash High Kick was the perfect transition into the finish, you could totally buy Kensuke getting careless and not sensing an inch of threat from Nagata, and he followed it up with a nice flurry to seal the deal. I could see the finish bothering many but I like it, too many times you see guys just laying in holds before letting them go or providing an unsatisfying transition out of it, if there was ever a time for a match to end by two minutes of a Nagata Lock IV it was after he kicked someone with significant blood loss in the head five times. ****

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This is up on the 'tube as of last week (since removed). I'd highly recommend checking this out. They beat the snot outta each other. I think the title of the bout is Life or Death Battle (Fight). Seems like a last man standing & submission only match since I cannot recall either try a pin. If you're a fan of either, you ought to watch this.

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Kensuke left New japan a couple of years prior to form World Japan with Riki Choshu. That promotion collapsed and now Sasaki is back home as an outsider and Yuji Nagata isn't exactly happy to see him back. This match is legendary for two reasons: first off is that there's a METRIC FUCK TON OF HATE, and second is that there's A METRIC FUCK TON OF BLOOD. No seriously, there's a lot of blood, Like, deathmatch levels of blood. It's a gruesome sight but the match itself is also very good. Hard strikes, hatred, a hot crowd and you get the feeling that Nagata would actually be fine with murdering Kensuke here and vice versa. One of the very best in New Japan history. *****

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