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[2018-06-20-BJW] Masashi Takeda vs Isami Kodaka (Light Tubes, Giga Ladder & Glass Board Death Match)

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Masashi Takeda defends the BJW Death Match Heavyweight Title

 

Masashi Takeda is on an all-time deathmatch run right now. While I completely understand that this style is not for everyone, I think that he isn't getting nearly enough credit outside of the deathmatch bubble right now. His work and character transcend the genre. He's one of the most charismatic wrestlers going and brings a completely unique atmosphere to all of his matches. While other deathmatch wrestlers SOLELY rely on sick bumps and violence, Takeda is able to mix some traditional wrestling, his charisma, great match layouts, and brutality all together to create matches that all feel gigantic and different.

 Takeda has established himself as the dominant Deathmatch Champion this year, and he has done it by outlasting his opponents and willfully showing that he has absolutely no fear of pain. He'll smash tubes over his own head and take bumps into tubes just to break them into sharp weapons. Here, finally, he's met a man with the same fearlessness. As soon as the bell rings, both men smash tubes over their heads and charge full-speed at the other. Then, after some basic exchanges, they take turns taking their own bumps through tubes, which quickly turns into trading headshots. Kodaka has been here before and won't back down, finally sending Takeda into tubes in the corner, with Takeda taking a very cool looking flip-bump into them. Kodada then proceeds to break the already broken tubes down to dust in order to get the max punishment out of rubbing Takeda's head into the mat. There is a slight miscommunication on the transition to Takeda taking control, but it didn't hurt too much. He escalates the violence, introducing scirros into the fray while delivering some nice clotheslines with them in hand. Once again, they each show their toughness by breaking tubes over their own heads, but Kodaka is finally looking a little worse for wear, while Takeda is only getting more energy. This is followed by an interesting armbar exchange, with each guy countering their opponent's armbar with one of their own. Of course, the scissors are involced, making the exchange even more interesting.

The weapons keep escalating, with Kodaka bringing his trademark gigantic ladder into the ring and hitting a picture-perfect crossbody off of the top. A few minutes later, Kodaka is having trouble unfolding a chair so he just chucks it at Takeda's head without missing a beat. He pays a few minutes later, though, when Takeda counters a super huricanrana attempt with a superbomb off his own off of the turnbuckle through a sheet of glass. A strength of this match is the weapons escalation. They didn't really bring out too many other weapons in the beginning, allowing the reveal and introduction of each new weapon to be important and surprising. And what was next was a board with bird befender wires on them, which Takeda brings out from under the ring but also, to his dismay, takes a bump chestfirst into them on a bulldog. Isami fires up again by breaking more tubes over this head, showing that he is back in the fight. While it may come across as absurd to some, I think that the way they use the self-infliction of tube shows to guide the story and show the different stages each wrestler is at at whatever point in the match is kind of brilliant. 

Now they begin to take the match into overdrive. Another thing I like is that, at one point, they actually descalated the violence and were duing some nearfalls and exchanges based around straight wrestling moves with no weapons involved. But that quickly transitions to possibly the most insane sequence in the match. Kodaka hits his gigantic kneedrop off the ladder right across Takeda's chest, only for Takeda to kick out at two. Takeda quickly gets up and hits his own huge german suplex, followed buy an exploder by Takeada, and then knees and clotheslines off the ropes from each. While some may say that the no-selling here of completely absurd big moves is ridiculous, I think that it actually fits brilliantly with the story of two fierce warriors that they've been telling the entire match. Someone compared this to the Ishii vs. Shibata series in deathmatch form, and I agree with that. It just works here. Kodaka again climbs the ladder for the third time, but this time Takeda climbs himself to cut Kodaka off, eventually landing a gigantic superplex onto the glass covered match. Again, it still isn't enough. Finally, we hit the finishing stretch, with big kickouts and moves until, finally, Takeada secures the victory. Afterwards, both men show tons of mutual respect.

This is an incredible match. It's very brutal, but the story works perfectly here, the crowd is nuclear, and both guys are perfect in their roles and attempts to one-up the other. It's paced perfectly and the escalation all works. This Takeda run really is something special right now. Again, I know it is a divisive style, but if you can stomach it, this is absolutely worthwhile.

 

****3/4

 

 

 

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Can't wait to watch this match. Takeda is insanely talented. My favourite couple of non deathmatches which I use as a good example of how good he is, is the AJPW Jr tournament last year. He wrestled two crisp sub ten minute matches and had the crowd firmly behind him. 

I think deathmatch guys are more compelling when you know they don't need to do it as a style but do it because they love it. Same with Kodaka. 

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Something I really appreciate about the current deathmatch style is the escalating use of weapons as a storytelling device and crowd control. When done well it’s a cool example of the crowd and the wrestlers all understanding the stulemand the internal logic of the style. A great example here is them starting off breaking lightubes over their own heads and establishing where the baseline of violence is. A guy like Abdullah Kobayashi is a master at that, no matter how limited he is physically. Well Takeda and Isami are both masters at that as well, but they have the athletic and wrestling ability to really take their matches to another level, and them facing each other really got there. Kevin nailed everything in giant review, but just to add that this match gave me a sense of joy that I haven’t felt watching a current match in a long time. A great feel good disgusting brutal time, and Takeda is on some kind of run. My current MOTY

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This was very fun, pretty gruesome (the bed of bird spikes mostly), and oddly beautiful with all the shards of glass in the ring. This quality of execution and pace combined with the blood really flowing and the ring full of glass is cinematic in a special way - a way that probably only really death matches can be. On first watch I don't think I have this quite as high as most people (not quite as amazing to me as, like, last December's Takeda/Takahashi match), but it is really damn good.

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I enjoyed this match enormously - much more so than I expected given that, as with a lot of people who have been talking about this match in the last few days, I'm not generally interested in deathmatch wrestling. I often find (based on occasional, cursory viewing) that they oddly don't have a real sense of violence or danger to them - largely because they seem very collaborative, with the competitors working together to set up the big spots. So you have this strange sensation that something which, in actual fact, is risky and painful, doesn't seem so - whereas my favourite matches are often the opposite, where basic, relatively safe things are made to seem brutal.

This largely avoided that problem - I particularly loved Kodaka launching the chair at Takeda's head when he wasn't able to unfold it properly as he set up the glass pane, rather than just carrying on and taking ages to set the spot up while Takeda waited. And generally it felt very intense and aggressive throughout. Some of the visuals were extraordinary, and the superplex from the ladder onto a canvas now liberally covered in broken glass will stay with me for sure (again, unlike a lot of dangerous/painful deathmatch bumps, which are forgotten even before the match is over). But I do have to say I'm one of those people klhare mentioned who is put off by the no-selling near the end - that knee drop from the ladder by Kodaka looked absolutely devastating, and I found it immersion-breaking to see Takeda up doing a quick back-and-forth sequence moments later. It wasn't even a question of believability so much as thinking that it must have been seriously painful to take the move, so why move on so quickly and get so little out of it?

Overall, though, I liked this far more than most deathmatches I've seen in recent years (which, again, is not many), and will probably be rewatching to see if it gets better when I'm more in tune with the logic and expectations of that kind of match. Definitely going to catch the December Takeda/Takahashi match, too, which I've been hearing about for a long time

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Even though I do not consider myself a deathmatch connoisseur by any means, I can't deny how much of a spectacle this match was. It didn't even feel like a stereotypical death match as it wasn't about the weapons, but more about the struggle between these two men who are quite familiar with each other. Both men channeled the fighting spirit of Puroesu with the insanity of death match wrestling to create an amazing dark horse MOTYC, ****3/4.

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