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[2014-07-26-NJPW-G1 Cimax] Katsuyori Shibata vs Hiroshi Tanahashi


ShittyLittleBoots
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Not as good as their G1 match from the year before. Still really good though - Shibata gave Tana a nice beating, which Tana sold well & his comebacks were good. I thought the match was missing some urgency though, which was very surprising considering who were involved. I enjoyed it a ton, but it did not reach the greatness of their 2 previous matches because of that. The match also has a couple of absolutely incredible visuals w/ Tana's entrance being the first one; Shibata just standing in the middle of the ring, eyes closed while Tana goes to the corner behind him to do his pose was amazing. The 2nd amazing visual was Shibata's incredibly violent looking & sounding spinning backfist. That ruled. ***3/4

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When I sent in my ballot for the 2014 WON awards, this was my MOTY. It's like an expanded version of the 2006 Dome match because Tanahashi seems more credible against Shibata due to all he'd accomplished since their last match. There's a great callback to the finish of the 2013 G1 match in there and it continues the theme of 'Shibata kicking Tanahashi's ass' from the 2006 Dome match. The backfist is absolutely nasty. This is my pick for the best match these two ever had together. The followup from September didn't come close to this and the 2015 G1 match didn't come close to this. ****3/4

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  • GSR changed the title to [2014-07-26-NJPW-G1 Cimax] Katsuyori Shibata vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • 1 year later...

Review from January 2015...oddly low rating for two of my favorites...probably needs a revisit

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Katsuyori Shibata - G-1 Climax Day 4

 

Pride can be the downfall of even the greatest champions. I have argued before that beauty of Tanahashi is not his magnificent mane, it is his offensive strategy. Tanahashi's game plan is to attack the knee, destroy his opponent's base and set himself up for a victory either via submission (Texas Cloverleaf) or suplexes/High Fly Flow. Tanahashi can not beat Shibata in straight up strike battle. What makes Tanahashi a champion is recognizing that, swallowing his pride and getting to work on his strategy. He is NOT Bob Backlund, who is going to beat his opponent at his own game. He is NOT John Cena that is going to bury his head down, circle the wagons and fight through his opponent. He is Tanahashi, he is going to avoid his opponent's best shot and set himself up for victory.

I have never seen Shibata in this long of a match before especially one where he had to sell so much. He did an admirable job for someone who is better suited to shoot-style mayhem. Tanahashi put over Shibata as a killer early by avoiding the penalty kick and hurrying to the outside to regroup. He lures Shibata to the outside and hits a plancha to set himself up for some knee work. Tanahashi goes to work like usual except he decides to go for a running splash and crashes into the turnbuckle. Shibata is able to smoke Tanahashi with a kick to the head up against the railing. Shibata favors the leg, which is awfully nice of him because Tanahashi really had not gotten down to work on it yet. I have seen people no sell a lot worse and I would have not begrudged him not to sell it. Shibata seems more reserved than usual. He is hitting Tanahashi hard, but it is not as urgent or energetic as I would like it to be. Tanahashi is playing to the crowd way too much when he his flurries of offense and it is costing him. Tanahashi catches the Penalty Kick and Dragon Leg Screw! That's Tanahashi I know! Texas Cloverleaf, but can't secure the submission. I love when Tanahashi flips his opponent over before hitting High Fly Flow to avoid the knees. On his second High Fly Flow (I also like that he does High Fly Flow in pairs), Shibata gets his knees up. Then Tanahashi does something uncharacteristic he gets sucked into an elbow exchange. Shibata is able to obliterate his back with a spinning back chop. Tanahashi's sell is so awesome. Shibata has a bit of trouble with Go 2 Sleep, but is able to wrangle Tanahashi to hit it and the Penalty Kick for the win.

Kayfabe, Tanahashi's head did not seem to be in the game. Playing to the crowd, not exploiting his knee work and then getting sucked into a strike exchange. Non-kayfabe, Tanahashi was crushing it selling for Shibata. Shibata came off as a total badass when Tanahashi was selling his ribs and then selling that last spinning back chop. In a lot of ways this was the story of Tanahashi dropping the ball and Shibata staying steady with game plan of strikes. It felt a bit cold and dry at times. I wanted more out of Shibata, who I know can get feisty, Maybe the story is that he is more concentrated because he respects Tanahashi's status and wanted to focus on winning. Either way it did not grip me even if it was an effective story. ***3/4

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