Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, January 30, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 3 Workrate Report

Looks like this will be another one match show, which makes sense if you're going to clip up a match to fit in two, like they did last week.

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4/7/13)

So according to my DVR programming description, this match was the Observer MOTY for 2013. And, it was good. I'm not sure I would have guessed that it won Match of the Year honors, no matter how much Mauro screamed that it was a masterpiece and like the best combination of Steamboat/Flair and Austin/Rock. But it was good. I liked that Tanahashi established the arm work early, which is a smart thing to do to a guy who kept saying he wanted to win with the Rainmaker (even though we all knew that he was clearly going to hit the Rainmaker and use the arm when it was convenient). Still Tanahashi's arm work looked real good. I dug the wrenched in arm bars and really love one point where he started hammering down on the arm while then uppercutting it on the upstroke. Okada did a fine visual representation of selling it, making sure to hold it and touch it after doing a move. But it never made him hesitate when doing those moves. Still hit his elbow drop, still hit a couple Rainmakers, still threw a couple suplexes, still did his STF submission a couple times. He would always hold his arm afterwards, but at that point he was merely paying lip service. I get working through the pain on a couple moves, but going to the effort to sell the whole time while still doing almost all the moves exactly the same way seems like a lot of pointless work to me. It hurt in between moves, but obviously didn't hurt enough to make him consider not doing any of these moves. Maybe it was supposed to show how determined he was to win the title? The problem is that wrestlers aren't good enough actors to show determination. They just kind of growl. But they always growl, so it's hard to convey different emotional levels of growling. But even with that I still enjoyed it. I liked Tanahashi playing the shades of grey. He knew a lot of people in the crowd wanted Okada to win, but he also knew tons of people wanted him to win. Some of the crowd booed some of his actions, but it was all in the name of defending his title and nothing was flat out heelish, more just showing that he knew the threat he was up against. So we had some good near falls, good reversals that actually felt organic and not overly choreographed. Overall a fun match.

Now some things I really didn't like:

Mauro really has to tone things way the fuck down. This show and last he kicks into overdrive scream mode and it's already laughably bad, but for the people that enjoy it I imagine it's going to ring hollow in a couple episodes when he's acting like every single match is the greatest moment in the history of this sport. The excessively grand screaming about "WHAT IS IN THEIR DNA THAT MAKES THIS POSSIBLE!?" is kind of amusing unless you realize he's dead serious.

Okada really needs to practice putting on certain submissions. He stumbled a couple of times trying to lock on things, including one of the more business exposing things I've ever seen. He was attempting to lock some sort of float over butterfly submission to put pressure on Tanahashi's neck (after Tanahashi took a nasty spike DDT on the apron), and Okada kept botching the float over. So Tanahashi literally just had to sit still on the mat while Okada tried over and over and over and over again to properly apply this move. I've never seen anything like this before. The crowd started laughing at one point. Okada started laughing at one point. Imagine Flair trying to lock on the Figure 4 but continually tripping over Steamboat's leg, then just trying again and again, while Steamboat just idly sits there waiting to be put in the move. So awful. Again, I've never seen anything like this before. If John Cena fell over 5 times in a row while trying to put on the STFU, I imagine people would be citing that moment years later as a reason why he is horrible. I can specifically see Meltzer citing this and using his "first day of wrestling school bad" line. Yet Okada gets to skate.

And finally, that fucking ref is the worst. Had to look his name up, "Red Shoes" UnnoWhat could have been a real dramatic moment of the match involving crawling to the ropes to break a submission, was completely shit on by this hack making muggy cross-eyed Milton Berle faces. He does more of that ear cupping, leaning his face alllll the way into the faces of both men, really making it all about him at one point by standing up mid submission and doing a fucking Hulk Hogan finger point to the timekeeper as if to say "GET THAT BELL READY MOTHERFUCKER! THIS MATCH IS ENDING SOON!!" At one point he clearly blocks both of their faces from the camera zoom with his own face, really making sure the ringside camera was getting his face in there, really doing his job out there. This guy puts to shame any instance of Shawn Michaels as a guest ref. Seriously cannot stand this guy.

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