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[2022-01-04-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom 16] Katsuyori Shibata vs Ren Narita


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The Wrestler is back with a bang. Despite some trepidations about his return, I was delighted when Shibata announced that the match would be contested under standard pro wrestling rules. There’s a fairly obvious teacher vs. protégé story here. Narita reminds me a lot of Shibata in terms of his mannerisms and poise. If all goes well, he has all the makings of a special talent.

From the jump, we get the kind of buttery-smooth, hard-nosed grappling Shibata’s known for. His transitions in and out of holds are seamless, logical, and give attention to the little details. Take, for example, the moment where he places his arm behind his head to block a submission from Narita, or how he places his boot on Narita’s head to grind him down to the mat for a Figure Four. Shibata turns a pin attempt directly into an armbar to put Narita away, but Narita has too much heart and catches him with a grotesque-looking Narita Special. 

From there, they briefly transition to leg work. Shibata’s selling of the leg is subtle, but a nice touch to add to the idea that Narita may have a chance to win. Narita gives as good as he gets, stomping Shibata in the corner, refusing to let go of the hold, and shoving the referee A nice struggle over the Kanuki Suplex ends in a Cobra Twist from Narita, but Shibata’s immediately able to turn it around. Narita escapes from a kick at one, which feels suitably defiant and not shoehorned in like one-counts often do. The match gets progressively more violent, as Narita starts wailing on Shibata with kicks, trying to break his guard. Eventually, Narita succumbs to a Penalty Kick.

Short, sweet, and to the point. Many wrestlers in New Japan could learn a lot from this match. Less is more and all that.

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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [2022-01-04-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom 16] Katsuyori Shibata vs Ren Narita

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