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[2017-01-04-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom XI] KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi

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Mildly disappointed by this. I've been pretty high on Hiromu and said it looks like he's going to be the best junior New Japan's dojo has produced since Kanemoto. I might have spoken too early there. It's not like KUSHIDA's been lighting the world on fire but this match really should have been beter than it was. I was very intrigued by the beginning, where KUSHIDA cut-off Hiromu's sneak attack. That's a very unusual choice-one I off the top of my head don't remember seeing before. The whole point of the sneak attack is that the surprise element knocks the other wrestler goofy, and once you challenge conventions I'm expecting you to bring something interesting to the table. This match really didn't. KUSHIDA's first control segment was ok, set the pace well, Hiromu goading KUSHIDA into the Sunset Flip Powerbomb was excellently done.......and then KUSHIDA came back in control a minute later and sure enough they quickly threw any match structure they had out of the water so they could get all of their big spots in. When they returned to the armwork match became better and more focused though they didn't diverge from the modern New Japan standard off "you don't have to sell a move if you counter the next one". I'm not the biggest fan of the "take a shot-sell it for two second-fire back>both wrestlers go down" sequences either, but KUSHIDA's armwork and Hiromu's reckless offence provided enough for me to enjoy the match. **3/4

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This certainly had a big match feel and I liked how Takahashi attached before the bell given the build. Takahashi is out of control throughout there and I fall in the camp where some of the botches/misses added to his character and recklessness. Plus he's such an interesting counter to KUSHIDA. We do get to the pointed arm work then and it's a huge deal that Takahashi breaks this hold. That whole sequence kicked it into another tier for me. ****

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