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[2003-12-09-NJPW-Battle Final] Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Superstar Sleeze

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IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Shinsuke Nakamura - NJPW 12/9/03

I don’t think the Shooters were necessarily the issue during the “Inokiist Era” (c. 2001-2006), I think more of it has to do with Tenzan, Kojima (though he had a lengthy AJPW) and to a lesser extent Nagata. Nagata is better than those two but he needs to wrestle someone better than him for him to be good. You can get good things out of Tenzan and Kojima against Tenryu but for the most part they are lifelong midcard acts that were forced to become main event acts because of the lack of star power. Tenzan to me is the most possible Nasty Boy. He looks and wrestles like a goon. He is the perfect enforcer, heavy, bruiser for the main boss. His most successful was just try for Chono in the 90s. He just does not scream final boss or champion. I think there were issues bringing shooters in but I think larger part was this generation was weak. 

On to the match, Tenzan does a lot of Tenzan things that means he be a clubberin’! I don’t mind clubberin’, kick/punch, grind, stomp but this was not done in a captivating way. I am not a Nakamura guy and he gets better in 2009 but 2003 Nakamura was adding next to nothing working underneath. His selling was bland and hope spots mostly nonexistent except for two notable exceptions. Basically it was an extended squash but then it dawned on me…this is going too long, Japan using who dishes it out the most, takes the pin, doesn’t Nakamura wrestle Takayama in the main event of 2004 Dome show. FLYING TRIANGLE! HANGING CROSS ARMBREAKER! The young Lion wins out of nowhere lol. Let’s break down the narrative now.

Until the finish, Nakamura only got two hope spots: a flash ankle lock and a flash Triangle. This is one thing Nakamura excels in Japan but lost in America is that he is a terrific defensive wrestler. He exploits openings and turns them into offense with submissions really well. So they foreshadowed the finish really well as it was a Flying Triangle that won it. It was like Nakamura’s version of a puncher’s chance, he could hit the submissions anywhere anytime for the win. Love the story but a great layout does not mean a great match. Tenzan and Nakamura needed to be better in between the major plot points to really engage me as a viewer. I’ll give them *** because I really liked the story but can’t got much higher than that. 

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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [2003-12-09-NJPW-Battle Final] Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Shinsuke Nakamura

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