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superkix

[2016-02-21-AJPW] Atsushi Aoki vs Hikaru Sato

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One of the more well-rounded junior heavyweight matches out of All Japan this year. The first half is your standard juniors fare. The limb work was good and played a significant role throughout. Sato was the standout here, with great kicks, selling, and counterwork. Aoki was hit or miss, especially in the latter part of the match, but he came out looking strong. I really liked the ankle hold -> cross armrbeaker counter-for-counter sequence, and Aoki's Northern Lights suplex counter to the front necklock. The submission finish was really great, as it showed Aoki's desperation in the way he wrenches back and shifts his weight around to find the most painful angle before Sato ultimately gives up. Not perfect by any means but worth checking out.

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This was a mixed bag. I like the way Aoki climbs the top rope but I always thought the idea of him was vastly superior to the actual thing. The brief grappling segment at the opening was cool and I wish it went longer. Match then lost steam as they wandered around before kicking it up a notch for the finish-which was far from perfect, but at least had the type of cool stuff you'd want to see from a junior match. Sato's kicks are cool and they did a pretty good take on the submission finisher countering finish. My problem with it was that sometimes they'd build stuff up that SHOULD end the match (like Sato's awesome Heel Hook) and then lazily get out of it via hokey rope breaks or whatnot just to prolong the match and I can't get behind that, give me logical transitions and earn the next step in your match if you want me to care about it. **3/4

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