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[2000-10-01-Osaka Pro] Naohiro Hoshikawa vs Dick Togo

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This is the semi finals of the big singles Osaka Pro tournament and really exemplified the variety of styles that Osaka Pro can display and make them mold organically throughout. I know it is a promotion that really sings to me, but it hits my sweet spot and the work is top notch. Some good early chain wrestling had Togo on the losing end so he takes out his frustration with an attack on the outside using chairs and tables. Hoshikawa is busted open and Togo works the cut with aggression. Hoshikawa is able to hang on and like in an apuestas lucha match, he mounts a comeback delivering the same attack to Togo that was given to him. Now Togo is bleeding and the fight is on. The match shifts into a finishing stretch that blends between big moves off of suplexes and some expert striking from Hoshikawa. Those final kicks he delivered to win in particular were some of the best strike exchanges we have seen in the year. Togo shows his respect to the victor and Osaka keeps on humming along as one of my absolute favorite promotions of the year. **** (8)

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I thought this was very, namely the finishing stretch in which Hoshikawa was really landing some stiff kicks to Togo. Was there really blood here? I just watched this and didn't notice any. If there was, then that was was some weak blade jobs by both. That Onita/Nakamaki headbutt exchange was another highlight for me. Good stuff.

 

***1/2

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This was fun. Really slick matwork from Hoshikawa to start, peppering Togo with kicks to soften limbs, before Togo’s finally had enough, smashing a chair over Hoshikawa’s head, sending the cushion flying, and then piledriving him onto another chair. He continues being a (for lack of a better term) DICK in the ring and tries to bring in the table but Hoshikawa proceeds to headbutt him to the floor in a really gnarly spot, and then smash a chair over his head. Togo’s bloody, Hoshikawa rubs salt into the wound in the form of his knuckles, and when Togo tries for the table again, it backfires and Hoshikawa German suplexes him for two. That failed ace crusher through the table was nuts, and leads to the nearfalls, with Togo hitting the Pedigree>senton combo to no avail and Hoshikawa kicking him in the head a bunch before finally pinning him with another German suplex hold.

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Osaka Pro has been one of the best promotions in the world in 2000 and Togo has been one of the best workers in Japan but this still managed to defy my expectations. What a great match. I love how Hoshikawa responded to Togo roughing him up by delivering some ass-kicking of his own. And the stretch run was fantastic. The whole time I kept wondering what it would possibly take to put Togo away. The crowd was hooked and so I was. This really was a triumph of Japanese indy wrestling for 2000. Usually, a match like this wouldn't work for me because you have Hoshikawa as a quasi-shoot style guy and Togo as a pure pro-style guy and those two things tend to mesh in annoying ways but they avoided any pitfalls by focusing on effort and sheer physicality. And that type of thing always leaves an impression. Great post-match as well with Togo breaking character to put over how much he enjoyed the fight and his respect for his opponent. Osaka Pro is something else in 2000. None of the Japanese majors can touch it as far as I'm concerned.

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This was really good. It had some depth to it as Hoshikawa gets beaten down with a chair and a low blow but then makes his own comeback with brutal headbutts and Togo takes a wild bump to the concrete floor. Togo is good getting worn down and eventually fighting from underneath. They trade hot nearfalls and the selling of exhaustion and physicality is really good for both guys. Hoshikawa picks up the win and they have a nice moment afterward.

 

****

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