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Charles (Loss)

[2016-01-01-ZERO-ONE] Masato Tanaka vs Hideki Suzuki

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Great match, easily one of my favourite this year has produced so far (this comment was three months ago but remains true). I liked the matwork a lot as well as all the strike exchanges, loved how Suzuki made Tanaka fight for every transition instead of just getting all his spots in. Suzuki's matches being meaningfully suppressed added a lot to the nearfalls and they didn't go overboard with them. Suzuki's Billy Robinson throwback gimmick rules.

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Fun strong champ vs. fiery veteran match-up. Some cool suplex throws and good matwork by Suzuki. Suzuki never really seemed like he was in danger of losing and the finish was a tad lackluster, but overall, a good title match.

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On first watch, I felt that this lost a lot of steam when it started to go in Tanaka's direction with the table. But I loved the opening and remember really really wanting to like the match more than I did. Needs a second viewing.

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I don't really know why, but I'm always a little surprised when I make my brief, annual forays into the current Japanese wrestling and see Masato Tanaka popping up. Feels like he's been around forever, but he still looks to be in great shape. He's not someone I ever really think of as being in that "grumpy old man" category despite the fact he's been wrestling about as long as, say, Akiyama. I wouldn't say he was showing his age as such here, but I did kind of get a vibe of him being out of his depth (kayfabe terms) against the younger ace (who's pushing 40 himself). When he went to his deathmatch roots and brought out the table, for example, you could probably buy it as a sort of desperation move. Match only went 16 minutes so it was fairly condensed, though the opening matwork section still managed to feel substantive rather than perfunctory. It was also probably my favourite part. Suzuki is a Billy Robinson trainee so you always get the grittiness to his matwork, pulling legs at nasty angles and really leaning on joints. They moved away from that with a rote forearm exchange, but I should probably just get used to that already. Finishing run was short, and while they might've moved on from a few big spots without letting them truly sink in, I'd rather they did that than keep going for another five/six minutes of bomb-throwing overkill.

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