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[2017-07-17-BJW] Hideki Suzuki vs Ryuichi Kawakami


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Here's what I wrote about this match:



Sometimes a champ's gotta choke a fool to really cement his legacy as a badass. Big Japan has already done such a fantastic job of establishing Suzuki as the outsider, a volatile force of nature swallowing up the Strong Division and spitting out broken challengers. Suzuki already beat Kawakami at his game back in February so here, like in all of his title defenses, Suzuki forced Kawakami to play his game. But Kawakami wasn't really having it and what ensured was perhaps the most "shoot-style" of any match I've seen this year, full of violence and disdain. This was awesome in a lot of ways but, above all, it felt personal. The most personal of any of Suzuki's title matches. As defending champion, he was put into a lot of uncomfortable situations but he was equal parts the aggressor, sometimes sacrificing his honor to grind an elbow in Kawakami's forehead or throw the first slap. And this was easily Kawakami's best performance since returning from injury last year, having fully embraced the inner shithead with his grinning attitude.

From the opening exchange, you get a sense of what's going on here. They test the waters, looking for the right opening, and when Suzuki gets it, he takes down Kawakami, slaps him and grinds the elbow in his face to establish dominance. Kawakami answers back with slaps, spits at Suzuki, and nonchalantly works a top wristlock. When Suzuki regains control with a full nelson, Kawakami walks into the ropes to break the hold but Suzuki stays right on him, right in his face, until Kawakami slaps him again, smiling. There are plenty of cheap shots thrown from both opponents, the added jabs and smacks, but Kawakami was the big jerk here. At one point, Suzuki has to elbow him off of him while they're on the ropes but Kawakami still sneaks in an elbow of his own to further piss off Suzuki. Or he's straight-up punching Suzuki in the corner. The striking in general is about as stiff as it comes, with Kawakami's nose getting busted open at some point.
Suzuki's the clear mat technician but Kawakami brings a real gruntiness to his matwork and there's a real sense of struggle for control. I thought the pacing and the placement of the big moves was organic -- if you have an opening, why not hit a dragon suplex hold? Suzuki even busts out a fucking hurricanrana -- not the prettiest one ever but totally unexpected. He tries for the double arm suplex but Kawakami starts squirming so Suzuki hooks his leg and starts cranking on him with a hold. Kawami wails on Suzuki with a bunch of hard elbows but the second he tries for the Hurricane Driver, Suzuki knees him in the head and quickly shuts him down. When Kawakami survives the double arm suplex, Suzuki smiles, almost as if to say "you really should've stayed down", and then promptly destroys him with elbows and puts him to sleep like a bad, bad dude, throwing Kawakami out of his ring as he's handed his crown. Unstoppable. I love this match. It felt like a fight from beginning to end. I get why people may not like this style of match, or Suzuki's style in general, but this felt unlike any other BJW World Strong title defense and I'm happy Big Japan is letting Suzuki do his thing. 2017 is definitely his year.


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