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[2022-03-26-NJPW-New Japan Cup] Shingo Takagi vs Zack Sabre Jr.

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We get bodywork, with ZSJ targeting the neck of Shingo. The early mat work is petty and uncooperative. Things get a bit counter-heavy briefly, but every time Takagi goes for something flashy, he gets punished for it. On the outside, ZSJ delivers some nasty uppercuts to the throat of Shingo. Back inside, Zack grounds Shingo with submissions.

Shingo’s selling, as always, is phenomenal. ZSJ switches things up and works over the arm to neutralize Shingo’s power advantage. Takagi goes for a Sliding Lariat but again pays for it as he gets twisted in knots. The mean-spirited Sabre shines in these control segments where he can viciously work over his opponent’s bad wheels. He’s cocky, dismissive, and a great foil for Takagi. Shingo lands a Superplex, but the damage to his neck and arm means he can’t capitalize. The counter sequences here, as with most New Japan matches, got a bit too dancey for my liking. That said, Takagi and Sabre Jr. are far from the worst offenders of this quirk of the house style, and the counters were saved for the closing stretch where they had more impact. It all circles back around to Shingo’s injuries, though. Shingo fights like mad to get out of a Rear Naked Choke, taking ZSJ to the top rope to try to break the hold, but Zack won’t relent, and Takagi taps out.

I don’t think the match quite reaches the highs of their encounter from last year’s G1 Climax, but this was still quite good.

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