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paul sosnowski

[2020-12-06-Pro Wrestling NOAH] Go Shiozaki vs Takashi Sugiura

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This was fucking brutal. The story of Go's title reign is that his body is held together by tape and it could all unravel at any moment. But he also has more guts and fighting spirit than anyone alive to drag his carcass through these massacres and keep his reign alive. Suguira did target the arm in the first third of this match with some submission work and strikes but he mostly worked as a battering ram, beating the ever loving fuck out of Go with about ten thousand hard forearms and even a few closed fists when desperation got the better of him. A couple of Olympic slams right onto Go's head and a sick twisting neckbreaker from the apron to the exposed floor helped him in her pursuit to pummel the champion into dust. For his part, Shiozaki, despite his arm being fucked, absolutely destroyed Suguira with the nastiest, loudest, hardest chops I've seen in 20+ years of watching wrestling. Suguira's chest had blood beginning to show within abut 15 minutes of the massive runtime of this match.

As brutal as the hitting was and as high impact as some of the top rope bumps were, the selling in this match was next level. Suguira's screams grew increasingly desperate and high pitches as his body underwent more punishment and his wobbly selling in the closing stretch really sold how close he was to just collapsing in a heap. As for Go Shiozaki, if ever someone captured the facial expression of a dying man walking towards the light, it was him in this match. His desperate, pathetic kickouts really told the story of a broken champion running on fumes and the way he steeled himself before throwing each chop and took a long pause before dropping Suguira with a powerbomb let us know how much of a toll this was taking on him and how each move he did came at tremendous sacrifice.

I'll not describe every spot because this thing was like 53 minutes but the best compliment I can pay is that it didn't feel like it overstayed its welcome even by a minute. One of the best matches of the year and would have been full marks if only they could have a crowd to cheer it properly.

****3/4

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The selling was tremendous with lots of masterful touches. Like all of their matches there was some really great stuff in here. But like all of their matches the lack of an ability to self edit took this down a notch for me. Still really good, borderline great, but doesn't touch the Nakajima defense for my MOTY. Either way loving 2018-current NOAH.

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