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[2016-10-23-NOAH] Takashi Sugiura vs Katsuhiko Nakajima

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I think no one's really accurately depicted the way modern NOAH matches are worked. Obviously that is in direct correlation with the dropping interest in it but when it gets some attention the focus is mostly put on the more obvious and uninteresting stuff. Looking at this match and thinking about how it's worked and how that relates to NOAH's recent success or lack thereof was interesting. The body of the match is worked with them exchanging control segments-but unlike in most workrate matches here the control segments actually last a good couple of minutes. The transitions used to get from one control segment to another were quite good-Nakajima's first High Kick in particular was just magical, the sheer speed and technique in that kick were unreal and Sugiura fell down as picture perfectly as it gets. Sugiura focused his offence on Nakajima's injured back as was the case in the transitions he used. The one thing I also liked in them is that there was danger behind the moves attempted-it's feasible Nakajima would do a Penalty Kick on the ramp or Sugiura would connect with a Big Boot after Gutbustering Nakajima on the ropes. I've seen them do spots like those a million times.

 

What was most staggering about the match, and what feels most distinctive about NOAH is the pace it was worked at and the way they filled time. The complete lack of urgency in the movement inbetween spots is not something I remember seeing in any other promotion-and even if other promotions had the lack of trying to fight back from the wrestler eating offence they would at least get over with it faster. But you'd have a moment where Sugiura is holding Nakajima by the arm, and he's going to lift him up, he's kinda looking at him, and it takes him five to ten more seconds than it should and Nakajima just stands there. That's nowhere near as compelling as Sugiura lifting up Nakajima and Nakajima trying to fight back with all he can from Sugiura's big move would be. When they're walking around you have Sugiura eat a Nakajima kick, and he'll take few steps back, then eat another move and move more, it's inexplicable how they got so bad at projecting human movement naturally. There's also the fact that the pace they work it doesn't work for anything, with the way they work it they sell less and less as the match goes on but don't finish it with a big nearfall heavy clasically "exciting" finish you'd expect, they hit a couple of big moves that feel out of place and just finish the match. When Nakajima pulled out his Superkick/Dropkick combos at the end it felt big and important because everything beforehand had been so slow, but really at least the last 10 minutes of the match should be just them doing stuff like that.

 

I still enjoyed the match because I like both guy's offence and there was enough violence in the knees, elbows, kicks etc. to keep me hooked, but to steal a phrase from Loss this definitely felt like a match that didn't know what it wanted to be, and I imagine the same is through for NOAH currently. ***

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Yeah, pacing is really important. I absolutely hate the go! go! go! pace of a lot of recent wrestling. I believe the moves and spots need room to breathe sometimes.

 

That being said, I don't think that meandering is the answer either.

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