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[2022-05-01-Kyushu Pro] Minoru Tanaka & Soma Watanabe vs Hitamaru Sasaki & Manabu Hara


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Sasaki choked out Watanabe in a tag match before this one, leading to Soma calling out Sasaki. Sasaki and Watanabe begin, kicking us off where the last match between them ended. Sasaki scrambles for holds, smothering Soma on the mat, but he's unable to gain the advantage. Tensions are high as Watanabe kicks away Sasaki's attempt at a friendly handshake.

Tags to Hara and Tanaka follow. The holds aren't just for show. Both Hara and Tanaka look like they want to hurt one another and sink in deep leg locks that end in a stalemate. Hara forces Tanaka into the corner, but Sasaki allows his opponent a brief respite. Sasaki traps the legs and twists Tanaka into an armbar in a gorgeous transition. Still, neither can gain the advantage, and we return to Hara and Watanabe. Things start getting chippy, and Hara goes for a stomp.

The mat work is breathtaking, feeling like there's a constant struggle for control of the match. Soma's able to escape the leg lock Sasaki's been going for the whole time, and it looks as if we're going to get a repeat of the last match, but he escapes a chokehold by desperately grabbing the ropes. Sasaki sticks with his game plan and avoids a rolling Koppo Kick, lighting up Soma with strikes. Watanabe hits a driver and transitions into an armbar, making Sasaki use a rope break of his own. Sasaki follows back with a high knee, downing Soma. In come Hara and Tanaka, as Manabu catches Minoru off-guard with a flurry of kicks. A triangle choke causes Tanaka to reach for the ropes, and suddenly, the blue team's on their last legs. Tanaka catches Hara with a flash Minoru Special, and that's all she wrote. Uncooperative, breezy, and not overly reliant on gimmicks. A gratifying slice of shoot-style in a world where that's becoming increasingly uncommon.

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