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[2018-03-21-NJPW-New Japan Cup 2018] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr


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Simply beautiful. I love the uniqueness ZSJ brings to New Japan - all of his New Japan Cup matches have been such a breath of fresh air. The uniqueness of this match in particular hit me big time; it's a big tournament finals match that goes over 30 mins in New Japan. And it's mostly spent on the mat, working over limbs & displaying a true struggle. Zack was vicious working the crap out of pretty much every limb Tana had to offer & Tana's selling was excellent - also with it being Tana in a big match situation, the drama & passion was through the roof. Absolutely loved that. What a match. ****1/2

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ZSJ tops off a fantastic New Japan Cup run with this wonderful finals match that highlights all his strengths in the ring. Slick, beautiful submission exchanges that build their way up to exciting dramatic moments. Notice how Tanahashi's dragon screws came off as key transitioning points here. While Tana does like to go to that well in his other big-time matches, the way it was utilized here to punctuate tense exchanges made it pop even more. Tanahashi played a fantastic babyface for ZSJ, just selling and firing up at all the right times. Great selling performance from Tanahashi to make all off ZSJ's offense look like a million bucks.



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Yeah, this was alright. It was long as fuck but they never really lost me at any point. I mean, it had a few ropey forearm exchanges and the striking generally wasn't amazing, but this is 2018 and it is what it is. I've only seen Sabre a few times, but his tricky submissions are usually pretty fun and more than that he'll just dig his fist or elbow into a body part to manipulate joints. Tanahashi going to the headlock early on to keep from bring tied in knots was decent stuff, even if he doesn't exactly have a Finlay level headlock. The armwork from Sabre was cool and whether it was intentional or just another case of Tanahashi have crummy forearms, the shots thrown with the bad arm coming off as lame as they did actually worked. The progression from the armwork into the legwork was organic enough as well. Tanahashi's dragon screws were the best part of this. The first one felt like it was out of desperation, then the one where Sabre was already on the mat was maybe my favourite spot of the match. They brought it up again later as Sabre was dickishly kicking him in the arm, sort of daring him to grab the leg and try another dragon screw, then when he did Sabre just lunged on him and dragged him into a triangle. It also came up towards the end when Sabre reversed it again into a cradle, and from that point it felt like Tanahashi absolutely couldn't go back to it because Sabre had it so well scouted. Finish itself was pretty great. Long New Japan main events aren't my bag, but I liked this fine.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2018-03-21-NJPW-New Japan Cup 2018] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr

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