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[2000-08-13-NJPW-G1 Climax] Kensuke Sasaki vs Manabu Nakanishi


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This match opened up in a slow methodical way. It wasn’t the most compelling mat work we have seen tonight but for two hoss power guys, the stuff like the test of strength made sense. The chop battle that happens around five minutes in ramps things up a good bit with Nakanishi bringing it down with a chin lock and neck crank. I wish Nakanishi would go after the leg that Nagata worked over so well and Sasaki was still limping on when he entered the ring. Daddy Choshu is watching over his flock from the tunnel. Now Nakanishi goes after the leg after we see Nagata at ringside and I’m delighted as can be. Nakanishi cranks in the crab like submission with the leg wrapped around his head and the crowd picks up on that and responds to Sasaki being in trouble. The next big spot happens when Sasaki goes through a small flurry and hits his bulldog. Those type of power moves worked against Nagata but Nakanishi is stronger and bigger so he shrugs off the bulldog, hits a spear and keeps on rocking Sasaki with a barrage of strikes and clotheslines. Sasaki is forced to reach down deep now and knows that he has to prove he has more bravado than Nakanishi. The clothesline exchanges made a lot of sense in that moment and felt like a seminal turning point of the match. The knee Sasaki hits right to the gut looked great and Nakanishi really sells it well of the wind going out of his sails. I can see some critique here that Nakanishi should have went more after the leg but that is more Nagata’s game and not Nakanishi so I did appreciate that while he gave a nod to a vulnerable position of Sasaki, he was going to win this thing his way through shear brute strength and power. Another clothesline exchange with the sweat flying off of both men and the crowd going nuts. A nice sequence with Nakanishi getting the rack, Sasaki getting a tight choke and Nakanishi using that to hit a good looking backdrop suplex. Sasaki really fights out of the rack using joint manipulation and again Nakanishi is able to counter the counter by dropping Sasaki onto his stomach. Nakanishi seizes up Sasaki and spears him again in the midsection that has been worked over some. Another spear and now Nakanishi is looking for the kill shot. He goes for one final spear and Sasaki does the same knee to gut counter. Nakanishi shakes that off, hits a spear and gets Sasaki up in the rack. This really feels like it should be the end of the match. Sasaki fights through and the exhaustion of wrestling three matches gets to Nakanishi as he collapses. Not the best counter but it does make some sense. Sasaki then runs through his full offensive arsenal with the monster Nakanishi trying to shrug it off before Sasaki hits the brainbuster and then locks in the crab with Nakanishi submitting quickly. Anticlimatic end as the crab by Sasaki hadn’t been used but didn’t make sense and Nakanishi should have passed out again since the narrative was him fighting through everything. Still a great match for this style and I don’t think they did too much at all. Overall, one of the better top to bottom shows of the year. **** (7.8)

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  • 3 months later...

This was a shitty finish away from being a really great match.

 

The opening half is kind of placeholder in most ways. Like a feeling out process in a legit fight that then gets real when they begin trading lariats. The lariat exchange is well done and shows Nakanishi overcoming Sasaki little by little. And that's the story that continues throughout the stretch run. Nakanishi gets bulled over by Sasaki for a brief comeback and then I am all in on a methodical annihilation that Nakanishi lays on Sasaki.

 

The young bull is overtaking the established bull as Nakanishi crushes him with lariats, nails him with spear after spear. Sasaki counters one with a knee after Nakanishi slaps him around but Nakanishi rises and shakes it off and spears him again. Then locks on the torture rack and that felt so cumulative and "right" that I can't believe that wasn't the actual finish. Instead it's an anti-climactic spot where Nakanishi seemingly collapses from exhaustion and it just doesn't play very well. Suddenly Sasaki is up and running around hitting lariats. I know it's his opening and last chance but I didn't care for it. Nakanishi continues to kick out at one and refuse to lose but eventually taps out to a boston crab. The dismantling on Sasaki leading to the torture rack was so great that the ending could only diminish what they had already gotten to. Oh well.

 

***1/2

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  • 4 weeks later...

This was exactly what you'd expect from a Sasaki vs. Nakanishi G-1 Final. It was big, it was dumb, and it was goofy. But it was also oddly compelling and well on its way to being another surprising Sasaki performance when it suddenly ended. I was just getting into it and "snap" the bout was finished. At least they hooked me, though. Credit to Nakanishi. He may wrestle like a bit of a neanderthal but he was the best version of himself that he could be here. And he did a fantastic job of selling his disappointment afterward. As far as matches go, this was a near hit.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2000-08-13-NJPW-G1 Climax] Kensuke Sasaki vs Manabu Nakanishi

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