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[2016-01-04-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom 10] Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii

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This is a mixed bag of nuts. I buy that these two just want to fuck each other up and see who’s got the bigger dick, and I’m totally okay with that formula if it’s done in a convincing and entertaining way way. Both of these guys busted their asses out there, the crowd was hot for it, and everything looked brutal. The story was simple enough, that Ishii can absorb pain like no other so Shibata’s goal is to make him feel as much pain as possible. Ishii’s such a great seller at times, especially in the way he collapses after that elbow shot. The blatant no selling is what it is and it feels like the ramifications for all the heavy offense is very little but I did like the payoff of both guys crumbling after the sustained damage takes its toll, with that great visual of an exhausted Ishii spitting out his mouthpiece. There was no control in the match, with one guy staying on top for a short time before the tide turns. And a lot of that brutal offense felt meaningless -- like they were trying to do too much to the point where you become desensitized to how nasty things get. The headbutts were absolutely nasty for the sake of being nasty but they don’t really have a major effect on the outcome of the match itself. Shibata took a couple of big lariats from Ishii and they went through the finish as planned. I remember liking the rematch from February a bit more than this but I’ll have to rewatch that one again soon.

 

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Stopped watching New Japan in 2016, but my interest has been renewed by attending a New Japan house show in Lowell this past weekend. Starting it off with two of my favorite stiffs!

NEVER OPENWEIGHT Champion Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata - NJPW 1/4/16

Going into this match, I expected this to go one of two ways. First, it could be an explosive, high energy asskicking contest. Alternatively, it could one of those macho pride dick waving contests, that is slowed down and more about showing fighting spirit than winning the match. Unfortunately, it was the latter. To make matters worse, the teased it being a uptempo, brutal strikefest at the beginning, before settling into fighting spirit spots. We are talking full on "let us alternate sitting down so each of us can kick the other in the back really hard". Once the match progressed,  I enjoyed it for the sheer brutality. There were some absolutely wicked elbows and monster lariats. I could watch Shibata kick someone's arm all day. They kept teasing working the arm and I really wished they went there. Shibata was awesome at submission. I loved how he had him cinched in so deep. His abdominal stretch and then Octopus may be the best version I have ever seen of that move! Inoki would be marking out! I thought it terms of narrative it was lacking. There was symmetry of each doing the same thing to the other, but overall it was so overwrought that the offense started to feel inconsequential. As one reviewer did a great job pointing out, you become desensitize to the violence of the match because there is no real progression in the match. There was a lot of King's Road style double knockout spots, which got old. I thought the best sequence was Ishii catching the PK and hitting a wicked headbutt! But it didnt lead to a hot nearfall. That sequence happened two minutes before the end of the match and Ishii was jobbing. That should have been his nearfall to really build the drama. Instead they did nasty, nasty shoot headbutts to each other. Disgusting. Shibata hit the PK for the win. They absolutely smoked each other at some points, but if they were not hitting each other so hard this match would not be much. However, I like the style so I found it enjoyable, but I know it could have been much, much more. ***1/2

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