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[2014-09-21-NJPW-Destruction in Kobe] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Katsuyori Shibata


ShittyLittleBoots
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Tanahashi & Shibata have an excellent chemistry with each other & this is their best match. It really felt like it was the culmination of their whole story - all their previous matches, Dome '06 (& even their matches before that), G1 '13 & '14 lead to this. There's just this great feeling of importance throughout the whole thing. It's amazing. The storytelling is top notch & the performances of both men are perfect. Shibata, as usual, smacks the crap out of Tana & Tana sells it brilliantly while busting out some really great looking offense himself. Overall it's just terrific stuff from start to finish. One of my favorite NJPW matches of all-time. ****3/4

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  • 1 month later...

I thought this was a bad match in 2014 and nothing's really changed. By 2014 I was sick of the Tanahashi big match formula and never really thought Shibata would have worked well within the confines of said formula...and it turns out he doesn't. The 1/4/06 and 7/26/14 matches had a lot of intensity and violence and hate which made them a joy to watch and on top of that, they felt like Shibata's match which is always going to click with me regardless of who he works. There really isn't anything here that puts it over any of the previous matches for me. I disagree that there's a feeling of importance around this match. There really wasn't. It was just a that only happened so Tanahashi could get his win back and go into the AJ title match the next month with some more momentum. The post-match handshake bugged me then and still does now because that should have been the end of Shibata having to 'prove' himself to those fuckers. Instead he eats another year's worth of shit before they even attempt to give him an actual singles title reign. Shibata deserved better than that and frankly, deserved better than this match. At least Tanahashi got another win over Shibata, I guess.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2014-09-21-NJPW-Destruction in Kobe] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Katsuyori Shibata
  • 1 year later...

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Katsuyori Shibata - NJPW 9/21/14

I believe there was shoot heat between these two as Shibata left NJPW during the lean times of the mid-2000s while Tanahashi stayed rebuilt the company on his back, but Shibata has a big ego because he is a "legit shooter". How was that MMA career working out for you, bro when you came crawling back? I love Shibata as an in-ring wrestler and I love asskickers. I just dont care for people that work themselves into a shoot believing their own hype. The 21st century "real" pro wrestler vs sports entertainer feuds have never done anything for me and this is one of those. 

This match is worked in the style of pretty boy babyface has to prove his mettle against violent heel in this case it is a shooter heel. Tanahashi has way more zing on his elbows. There is a lot more Fighting Spirit spots. They get so caught up staring into each other's eyes and hitting each other with elbows on the floor they almost forget to back into the ring. In fairness, they are both really fucking good looking. You can clearly see it is designed to show that Tanahashi can play Shibata's game. He is working stiff in the corner trading blows. He sets up his legwork and hits his Somersault Senton, but he uncharacteristically starts pounding away in the corner with elbows. This costs as Shibata takes back over and starts beating the shit out of him. Elbows, kicks and wicked running dropkick in the corner (this becomes important later). They do some suplex no selling. Tanahashi Sling Blades out of Shibata's finish and gets another. But on High Fly Flow he eats knees. Shibata sensing he may have let this slip through his fingers, goes for the Penalty Kick, but Tanahashi ducks. This leads to a Dragon Suplex and a Texas Cloverleaf.  This all feels a little too easy for Tanahashi at times. When it came time, the Legit Shooter took the fall for Tanahashi's left hand slap. Shibata comes back with a WICKED Spinning Back Chop that should have been his big nearfall. Thats what was missing from this match. Shibata never got a big nearfall. In fact Tanahashi never really felt in danger. Then came the most important point in the match, Tanahashi comes charging and OBLITERATES Shibata face with a running dropkick. Two High Fly Flows later and the Ace of the Universe Flies High!

I really enjoyed the story they were telling. Shibata was telling everyone that would listen he was the real shooter and beat Tanahashi to a pulp. So Tanahashi threw it all back into his face literally culminating with the running dropkick right to the mush. Tanahashi proved he was just as much Man as Shibata. I liked the story, but I thought the match was missing a little extra sumthin sumthin (like I said no Shibata nearfall). Another great Tanahashi match but doesnt stand out among his best. ****

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  • 1 year later...

Their past is one of the more notable stories of the time period. Tana and Shibata still have a bit of heat of Shibata leaving New Japan years ago (think Nagata vs Sasaki when Sasaki left New Japan briefly). The stylistic differences are clear. Even aesthetically, these two are polar opposites. So there was some lure in that regard. Tanahashi was willing to fly around a bit more to create a wider contrast. But there wasn't much that really stood out as great to me. The strike exchanges are probably necessary for the story they were going for but I found them entirely uncompelling and unconvincing. Shibata should be killing Tanahashi and Tana is going toe to toe with him. Compare this to Suzuki vs Okada strike exchanges where Suuzki is clearly winning every strike and Okada is only still on his feet through stubbornness. Here, it's presented as equal. When Shibita was throwing more strike combos and working the leg, the match worked much better for me. The crowd carried the emotion of the match, as did Tanahashi. But there was something very lacking in this match. Consider me underwhelmed. **3/4

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  • 3 weeks later...

After Shibata left the struggling company Tanahashi worked his arse off to rebuild, Tanahashi wants to teach Shibata a lesson. He can't just decide to come back now that business is starting to boom again. We get a hell of a Tanahashi performance here. He isn't the baby-kissing ace here, but instead, he's a territorial dickhead who's not afraid to play Shibata's game and start laying in some violent strikes and disrespectful slaps to Shibata's handsome mug. As much as I loved Shibata when he returned to NJPW nearly a decade ago, I can admit that certain elements of his schtick haven't aged particularly well. The constant man-up strike trade-offs have become cliche now, but that's not to say that I didn't love this match. Tanahashi is smart enough to pepper in some limbwork here and it plays right into the final pinfall. This had some simple yet compelling storytelling with bucketloads of stiff strikes that'll have you wincing and an explosive finishing stretch.  ★★★★

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