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[1988-05-08-NJPW] Don Nakaya Nielsen vs Keiichi Yamada

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Let me begin by saying that I'm not certain of the proper spelling of Nielsen's last name. I've seen it spelled both Nielsen and Neilsen. His Japanese Wikipedia page has it as Nielsen, so I'll go with that.

 

This is a Different Style Fight fought under a series of three-minute rounds. Nielsen has the size and reach advantage, and any clean hit from him is a potential knockout blow. But Yamada has the edge on the mat, even more so because of Nielsen's boxing gloves. Nielsen gets a few knockout teases, but for the most part, the first three rounds consist of Yamada taking him down virtually at will and forcing him to make the ropes. If this match were scored under a UWF/RINGS-style point system, Yamada would have won sometime in the middle of the third round. A clearly frustrated Nielsen cheap-shots Yamada toward the end of the third, leading to a pull-apart after the bell. The crowd senses that things are about to pick up, and sure enough, Yamada scores a half crab at the beginning of the fourth. But then Nielsen kicks Yamada's leg out of his leg and follows it up with a roundhouse kick to the head, and it's only a matter of time before the referee calls the match off.

 

Fascinating match overall. I'm guessing the goal was to put over pro wrestling as the strongest fighting style while still respecting the differences in size and stardom between the two. In that, they succeeded with flying colors. They took perhaps a bit too long to set the table, but once they got going, it was incredibly riveting stuff. Good pick from shodate.

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Great review! I watched this about a week ago and was sold within a minute of the bell ringing. For me the clear difference in size, style and attitude of these two makes this an immediately engaging matchup. I certainly didn't expect Yamada would get to look so credible in a match like this back in '88, but Nielsen really puts him over as a threat. After constantly getting taken down and scrambling for the ropes, Nielsen is happy to be the bad guy if that's what it takes to get the better of Yamada in this 'fight'. They could have been a bit less repetitive when it came to the endless takedowns but it build towards a fun finish. A good match.

I think this was the show that New Japan had planned for the first wrestling card at the Tokyo Dome with Inoki in his own 'Different Style' fight as the headliner but plans went awry and Inoki got injured, so it was this show at the much smaller Ariake instead.

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