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paul sosnowski

[2019-09-03-AJPW-Summer Explosion Night 13] Kento Miyahara vs Naoya Nomura

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This match was great, Nomura's urgency added a lot to it and Kento seemed a little bit desperated at times, so the suspense for a possible title change was growing as the match progressed. I personally think Nomura should've won this time because AJPW really needs more stars and not to rely on Kento only.

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Standard great Kento title defense, but I really think Nomura's fire and near victory at the end really took this to a whole different level. Kento's formula almost never fails, but sometimes it can be too by the numbers when the end result isn't in doubt (Kento starts strong as a cocky prick, opponent mounts come back, Kento throws a barrage of suplexes and knees, opponent gets one last surge before Kento finishes them off). The finishing sequence of Nomura obliterating Kento with forearms and escaping the Waterfall added some extra drama to an already-great match and made for one of the hottest finishing stretches this year.

****1/2

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I did like Miyahara's posingĀ as it added some character to the generic structure of the opening sections of the match. Miyahara really came across as the dominant ace that is still champion (that's a shoot, brother) and for some reason, despite me hating that Miyahara is still champ, I bloody loved it. Him no-selling Nomura and really treating him like garbage is so appealing. Nomura in return was okay for the most part. I thought his brief work on the ribs was forgettable and didn't add a ton to the match other than cutting off once Miyahara comeback with the spear. He didn't stand out as a top level guy but he wasn't awful either. I liked his forearms (and strikes in general) although I didn't love the strike exchange they had. There would be such long pauses in between them that it was annoying not to see them at least try and follow up while the other is trying to stay on their feet. The parts where Nomura was nailing Miyahara with the forearms late in the match ruled though. As was the rest of his offence in that finishing stretch. Showed tons of life before Miyahara hit the shutdown. Appropriate name. A good main event, one of Miyahara's better matches in 2019 (add performances to that also). It just needed more from Nomura outside of the finish. ***1/2

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One thing that bothers me about Nomura is that he still looks and comes off too much as a plucky up-and-comer rather than a potential generational rival for Kento. I usually don't have a problem with a wrestler's look as charisma and presence counts for way more in my book, but Nomura still doesn't look like a main eventer. It also doesn't help that his and Jake Lee's pushes feel a bit sudden. I don't watch every single AJPW match or show, but just last year Nomura was still losing the majority of his CC matches and now he's positioned as one of the top guys in the promotion. Obviously he's done a great job in these big match situations, but it's just not quite all there yet.

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