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[2003-07-13-AJPW] Toshiaki Kawada vs Keiji Mutoh

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Fucking great big match that came out of nowhere. I've heard not a peep of pimping for this and didn't even know it happened until I opened up the video of this event, but it absolutely delivered. Match starts a little slow with them working the mat, but I enjoyed it. Kawada's gameplan initially is to ground Mutoh and work over his arm. Mutoh's selling is interesting, initially just seeming dumbfounded by Kawada's strategy but then progressing into selling legit pain as Kawada keeps going after the arm. There's this great little hope spot where Mutoh tries to stand up and turn it into a striking match, but his hurt arm means there's not enough behind his strikes and Kawada quickly takes back over. Eventually, Mutoh decides he's had enough of that and starts making a comeback by going to town on Kawada's injured knees, and that's when the match really kicks into the next gear. There's this great explosiveness behind everything Mutoh does and Kawada's selling is incredible. Really needs to be seen to be believed as I think it might be his best leg selling since the RWTL 1993 finals. The match reaches its high point during an extended figure four spot where it looks like Fuchi might throw in the towel for Kawada, but Kawada digs deep and gets to the ropes. I was popping right with the crowd for that one. Kawada gets a lucky break when Mutoh seems to injure his own knees off a moonsault, which gives him just enough of an opening to string together some big moves (while keeping up the awesome leg selling) and just barely do enough for a 3 count. ****1/2 A shame this didn't get nominated for the best of 2000's project as I imagine this sort of match would have done quite well among the people who got burned out by the NOAH stuff.

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