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[2003-04-23-NJPW] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinya Makabe

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You can see modern New Japan style in this. It's in their strike exchange that consists of striking more and more instead of stopping and selling a blow, it's in the way Tanahashi milks his arm injury, it's in the count-out tease and it's in it the finish that consists of them trading big moves and, specifically, how they do it (lots of counters and pop-ups). I did enjoy the match-the beginning had a lot of matwork that way tighter than you see these days with a much wider array of holds, I mean it's understandable after years of work guys get lazy but it's much more interesting to see them work armdrags, kneebars, headscissors etc. than just grab a hold until it's time for dancing. After that you get a small portion of the match that is workrate-y and my stuff-your stuff, though I must note I like Tanahashi laying in Dropkicks and hitting Single Underhook Suplexes a lot more than a million jump around moves. Also Makabe quickly kicking out of the suplexes was smart as when they transitioend to The match really becomes interesting when Makabe counters Tanahashi with a neat Standing Double Wristlock he transitions into a Fujiwara Armbar. They build heat here-and Makabe does a good looking "Hogan knocks Inoki off the apron with a Lariat" tribute spot to tie that into the ring out tease. The finish was exciting as by this time they weren't limitated by formulas and much of it felt novel. ***

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