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[2019-08-03-NJPW-G1 Climax 29: Night Thirteen] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi


paul sosnowski
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This starts out like your typical Tanahashi match, with him working on the opponents leg, which he does a fine job at but is ultimately not used for most of the match. Tana’s dragon screw whips looks nasty as usual and he even brought out a deep texas cloverleaf. Ibushi seemed determined to blow it off though, which was pretty amusing to see. The call back to their Power Struggle ‘17 match with the slaps was great. Tanahashi doesn’t throw great strikes but he has a nice slap on him and Ibushi is Ibushi. The finish was fun, it wasn’t so much as a counterfest, more Tanahashi just trying to survive Ibushi’s big moves. The pacing of the match overall was great. Wizzed by super fast and other than the usual leg work in the beginning that’s no sold almost immediately, this was great. ***3/4

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Unsurprisingly Tana did target Ibushi's knee, but thankfully it didn't last long & it was FAR from the main point of the match. Everything else apart from that kneework & the bad selling of it was absolutely fantastic. The match was charged with so much pride & passion + the perfect amount of drama that it can't be denied. Maybe their best match against each other, even. ****

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I mentioned in the G1 thread that this was sort of like Okada and Tana's G1 match in that they played the hits from their previous match. But while that match felt more like a showcase, this felt more like a proper chapter in the Tana-Ibushi series. Ibushi's leg selling has always been spotty and he doesn't get nearly as much flak for it as Okada, Kenny, or Kento have gotten, but thankfully that was not a major point of this match. Instead, this felt like an intense struggle between a man and his idol. Ibushi considers Tana to be a god, but he was not going to take being slapped in the face lying down. The fact that they packed this much action and drama in a nearly 16 minute match is astounding and evidence that NJPW should run these matches more often.

Best match of the tournament and MOTYC ****3/4

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Just finished this one and I would put it in the top 5-6 matches of the tournament, int hat 4-4.25 star range of excellent matches that jump of the pack. They left a little on the table for sure. It wasn't on par with their finals match last year for me, but it was really well done. I like Tana going after the knee and ankle of Ibushi and even trying to strategically bust out the high fly flow, but just physically coming up short this time around.  I think Ibushi is maybe the perfect opponent for Tana at this point in his career because the way he sells Tana's offense, particularly those desperation moves that Tana hits down the stretch and really leans on in this stage of his career to build the drama makes Tana look like he is hitting a flash death blow every time.  Excellent stuff.

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