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[2000-08-13-NJPW-G1 Climax] Takashi Ilzuka vs Yuji Nagata

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This match was worked as almost an exclusive grapple battle. The early portions were engaging and Ilzuka opens things up more when he locks in a leg lock on Nagata and starts kicking away. Nagata does the first throw and then moves away from the legs to a cravate. Ilzuka is willing to go for the choke out of course and Nagata quickly realizes this and breaks free. Tempers flare up a bit more now with the first strike exchange of chops. This was a really good flurry with Ilzuka going after the leg but Nagata punching out. Nagata then goes for an enzuiguri but that allows himself to be open for a choke attempt. Nagata reels off a back suplex and quick choke with Ilzuka having to grab the ropes. Ilzuka shows some fighting spirit coming back and the crowd is ripe for the upset when he locks in the crossface and hits the Exploder. He still is not able to lock in his choke. In the final moments, Nagata does a multitude of escapes which are all well performed. Nagata is then able to lock in the crossface and get the tap out. Pretty awesome 11 minute match with a lot of duality and neat reversals. This match progressed wonderfully as well. ***3/4 (7.5)

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This was really awesome with both guys looking for specific holds and getting them over as huge threats, going back and forth countering each other, and trying to desperately stay on top and create openings with throws and suplexes. Iizuka throws some exploders and looks to have things in hand but Nagata seizes an opening and drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex and follows with a rear naked choke but Iizuka makes the ropes in a heated moment. Nagata drills him with a slap and they go through the intricate and red-hot struggle over the choke and the crossface, culminating with Nagata applying it tight and getting the tapout. A perfect escalation of holds that had been teased as death all match long and it ends at the highest point of the match. Great stuff.

 

***3/4

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Hell yeah, this was a lot of fun. I loved the sleeper hold teases throughout, with the crowd really buzzing anytime Iizuka tried for it. Nagata breaking out of the first attempt and wagging his finger at Iizuka was so good. After a backdrop, Nagata puts Iizuka in the sleeper and Iizuka answers with the crossface hold, before he starts tossing Nagata with Exploders. The final little tango of Iizuka going after the sleeper and Nagata being able to evade it was perfect, ending with Nagata finally catching him in the crossface hold for the win. Real good stuff.

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