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[2017-03-06-NJPW-45th Anniversary Show] Hiromu Takahashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi

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When Ryusuke Taguchi delivers, he delivers big booty-style. There was a lot to like about this match, from Taguchi chasing after Hiromu's injured ankle and Takahashi tenderizing the small of Taguchi's back, to Taguchi finally reaching his breaking point. Taguchi's selling isn't a strong point and he more or less blows off Hiromu's good lower back work to land a few hip attacks. And this match still has Takahashi's signature sloppiness -- I'm still not quite sure what they were going for off the top rope but it looked bad. But once Taguchi snaps on Takahashi with those slaps, the match settles in for a roller coaster ride of offense down the stretch, with Taguchi still targeting Hiromu's ankle. I loved when he starts destroying the ankle in frustration, trying to get Hiromu to submit. It may have a dragged one or two moves long but it was a lot of fun and better than any "big match Taguchi" match of 2016.

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I wasn't feeling this one that much. Thought Hiromu was great, and they had done a good job going in of building around the ankle lock. Taguchi's selling was particularly poor here. I did think they did a good job laying out the end of the match, but this never got into another gear for me. ***1/4

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Love me some Big Match Taguchi. He was really great in this, loved his submissions. I just wasn't the biggest fan of how this match was structured - it was laid out in such a way that I didn't find it too compelling to watch, and the selling of both men was pretty poor. It was pretty good, but I expected & wanted it to much better. **3/4

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Watching this match with the Sabre/Shibata one is a nice comparison. I like the work much better in the latter but have the matches ranked the same way due to my disgust with the Suzuki Gun turn by ZSJ. I really thought Taguchi here was pretty poor even though Hiromu for his part also did work over the neck and back in an inconsistent fashion. Taguchi didn't really sell anything down the stretch and that hurt the drama for it. ***1/2

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