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[2019-03-21-NJPW-New Japan Cup: Day Ten] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr


paul sosnowski
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Really enjoyed this with ZSJ being able to use his grappling to try and control Tanahashi but Tana coming back with powerful comebacks. Thought that the spot with Tana catching ZSJ in the ropes and just battering his leg was one of the best in the whole match. Then it was nice to see them trading roll ups at the end, really added a nice touch to the match as Tana was trying to one-up ZSJ at his own game. This also furthered the story of Tanahashi not using the High Fly Flow in the tournament as he tries to diversify his arsenal/finishing stretches. I thought that added a lot to it. Just really good action all the way through, and again helped a lot by not going overly long. Just a tight 20 minutes.

****1/4

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  • GSR changed the title to [2019-03-21-NJPW-New Japan Cup: Day Ten] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr

Very possibly my second favorite match of the tourney behind Naito/Ibushi.  Both Tana and Sabre used limb work as a base with Tanahashi relying on dragon screws and dropkicks to work the leg (including the awesome sequence SmartMark mentioned above where we worked Sabre in the ropes) while Sabre was picking apart Tana's arms and legs while seamlessly moving from hold to hold on the mat.  He also hit one PK that absolutely nailed Tanahashi in the face to the point I half expected him to be out cold.  A terrific finish that played off Tanahashi's approach while also clearly protecting Sabre.  What continues to stand out in Tanahashi's matches is the pacing.  They never come to a halt or have dead spots where it appears as though the wrestlers are killing clock, but rather milk every pause and allow every spot and hold to breathe so as to make them count even more before continuing to build the match. Curious to see in a few what he can do with the typically lifeless Sanada.

****1/4

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I actually thought this was the weakest match of the Tanahashi-Sabre series even if I still found it enjoyabe. I sort of liked that it was more rough around the edges so it came off as more of a shoot, but there seemed to be a few points in the match where they just weren't clicking. The most notable example is when Zack threw a kick so Tana could counter with the dragon screw only for Tana to not catch the kick (making it look weak as hell) and having to do it again. Still, some good limbwork and there was definitely a charm to the grittiness of it all. I just can't tell if it was intentional or not.

***1/2.

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