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[2003-04-23-NJPW-Strong Energy] Yuji Nagata vs Tadao Yasuda

Superstar Sleeze

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IWGP Champion Yuji Nagata vs Tadao Yasuda - NJPW 4/23/03

I had no clue what to expect out of this match because I have never seen a Yasuda match in my life. Besides seeing his name crop up on the list of IWGP Champions, I have never heard much about him, but I knew he was an ex-Sumo, shooter. I feel like if Nagata was the #3-#4 guy in New Japan with two all-timers in at the Ace and #2 positions he would be highly regarded. He just doesnt have the charisma to be the Ace, but he is a really solid wrestler and I have grown to like him more and more. 

Do not let the pedestrian start this match has a raging crescendo! There is a lot of hype for the upcoming Dome match between the NWF Champion Yoshihiro Takayama vs Nagata in a couple days. Yasuda is backed by his MMA cronies including the wild Kazunari Murakami who Nagata had the best match of his career with in December 2002. The opening pummeling and grappling solid, nothing memorable. There was some chippiness at the start with Yasuda being kind of an MMA prick. It picks up a little when Yasuda tags Nagata when the ref orders a break. Nagata targets Yasuda's leg with kicks and then works over the leg. Murakami distracts Nagata and this leads Yasuda take advantage with a head arm triangle (somewhere in there are sumo slaps, a butterfly suplex, but my memory is failing me on the order). Nagata switches from the leg to the arm and intends to break off Yasuda's arm and take it home with him. Yasuda's selling is really good. and I love the Japanese spot of snapping the arm over the shoulder. It is such a dramatic spot. 

Quick tangent in these matches I am often interested to see how is portrayed as the better wrestler. Is Yasuda due to his shoot credentials and Nagata's relative nascent Ace status considered the better wrestler and Nagata needs to overcome him by being valiant and a great wrestler? Or is Nagata the champion, full Ace and Yasuda has to be a dick to have a chance. It turns out it is the latter, but it took a while to get there. It is clear that Murakami's interference was necessary to make Yasuda a threat as seen by the next spot. 

The climax of the arm work is a cross-armbreaker where Nagata will not break (there's be a couple instances of Yasuda not yielding clean breaks) and Murakami throws a water bottle at Nagata! HELL YEAH! It is on. Nagata dives into the fray, but he is not just fighting Murakami, he is fighting the whole crew and ends up getting mugged. Nagata comes up a bloody mess and is thrown into Yasuda. This is when the match goes from good to great!

Yasuda works the cut with some nasty jabs. DRAGON LEG SCREW! HELL YEAH! Yasuda grabs a kicks and PUNCHES HIM IN THE OPEN WOUND! Yasuda goes back to his tried and true choke. NAGATA CROSSES HIS ANKLES WEARING A CRIMSON MASK! VOLK HAN SHIT! FUCK YEAH! YASUDA COMES BACK WITH A BALL SHOT! Shoot-style with ballshots is Marty Sleeze wrestling!!! Nagata survives. It is a bomb fest now! Tiger Drivers from Yasuda and Exploders from Nagata. It was a charge by Yasuda that led to an overhead throw by Nagata. Then Tenryu/Kawada-style enziguiris led to a barrage of Exploders for the win! Terrific ending. Nagata has way more bloody matches than I thought. Takayama demolishes Yasuda and Nagata drills Takayama with a Back Drop Driver. Melee ensues. Everything feels red-hot going into the Dome. This is Inoki at its finest! Blood, Shoot-Style and a Brawl at the end. Awesome stuff. Cant go much higher than **** due to the beginning, but killer ending.  

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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [2003-04-23-NJPW-Strong Energy] Yuji Nagata vs Tadao Yasuda

I'm so glad this got some love, while this match is great I would say their 2001 G1 outing is the best in terms of combining actual fun mat-work with the usual Yasuda antics. I did a whole thing why he in particular rules, he's one of the more slept on workers around this time because he was doing a lot of his Coward Shooter MMA Heel shit. Great Inoki-era melodrama at its best.




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