Segunda Caida

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

Friday, January 06, 2017

Reader Request: HARASHIMA v. Irie

HARASHIMA v. Shigehiro Irie DDT 2/28

To say I'm not as in tune with the modern Japanese wrestling scene as I was 15 years ago would be a colossal understatement. I had far more free time then, and liked far more Japan regulars, but it is a kind of cruel irony that my interest is so low at the point in time where accessibility is at its highest. To imagine a 2016 internet during my college years is to imagine a radically different self; I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to think that I would have been differently formed socially if I had near immediate access to Japan shows days after they happened during my formative years. I'm unsure if I would know what the voices of real human girls sounded like. Or, I would still attempt to talk to girls, but females would now hear me exclusively talking about my favorite Tokyo Gurentai undercarders (and believe me, I already brought up pro wrestling far too early in conversations with the opposite sex even back then).

So outside of checking in on some old, aging favorites now and then, I'm pretty oblivious to modern Japan. What I AM, however, what I am is open minded. So if somebody says I should check out a match, I almost always do, and I almost always give it a fair shake. Someone on Twitter mentioned I should watch this for potential 2016 MOTY inclusion, so why not? HARASHIMA had a wonderful match in 2014 that was kind of a surprise placement on our 2014 MOTY list, and Irie looks like Masao Inoue's teenage son going through V1.4 of his "acting out" phase. And I ended up loving...half of this. Maybe more than half if we're taking a total percentage. But I was certainly hooked for the first part. Long story short: Irie didn't have the selling to make any of the build mean anything. Long story long: HARASHIMA is a beast, and I think he broke out more pieces of offense in this match, more effortlessly, than I've ever seen. There were long stretches where he was just rolling from one thing to the next, like he literally had the ability to do any move he'd ever seen and could bust it out at will. Early on Irie misses a nasty charge into a ringside barrier, really running full steam ahead and crashing stomach first into the rail, rattling a door off its hinges in the process. And from there we get HARASHIMA just absolutely brutalizing Irie's upper torso. And I mean brutalizing it. There was a 6 minute stretch where it seemed like HARASHIMA had a 3 part checklist: Break Irie's torso; break Irie's ribs; make Irie shit his singlet. HARASHIMA really wanted all three of those things to happen. He just hits the most absurd and accurate stomps and knees to Irie's stomach. It's gross. Huge flying stomps, a great spot where he kneels into Irie's stomach while locking on a can opener, hard kicks to the guy, just all sorts of meanness. I don't care how strong your abs are, that punishment has to take a toll. Irie's selling during this was very satisfying, really putting over how much his breathing was affected, clutching at his ribs in that way you KNEW his whole core was killing him every time his lungs expanded his body. Irie had the power, and there were hope spots, but HARASHIMA cruelly ran this game.

And then, HARASHIMA landed a nasty reverse rana.....and Irie just kind of stood up. Now, it's certainly possible that part of his gimmick is that he's a stout, 5'7" guy with a cinderblock head and no neck, so conventional reverse ranas cannot harm him, and instead arouse him. That's possible. But to me it just looked like a guy taking 10 minutes of a beating and then casually standing up after the pinnacle of that beating. And things kind of continue like that until one devastating finisher gets a 3 count despite not looking any more or less devastating than several of the other devastating finishers that got anywhere between a zero-and-almost-three count. Irie leaps back into things seeming pretty okay after getting near disemboweled for much of the match, and the longer it goes the more he gets exposed as someone without longer term selling or the (understandably difficult) facial selling that comes with this kind of detail work. By the last few minutes Irie was made out to be quite invincible, which just made me not care about what it finally took to put him away. The nearfalls piled high, the interest dropped low. I liked Irie early when he looked like burly asskicker with exploitable weakness. Once the weakness got dropped and he became "guy who kicks out of stuff" they lost me. There was something there, though, and HARASHIMA looked legit amazing throughout. Again, his improv and ability to run from spot to spot to spot so naturally is something I've rarely seen. Usually you see a disconnect, some flicker in the eyes where a guy is zombie channeling his next moves like he was Bran Stark, but HARASHIMA just looked like a guy pulling punchlines out of nowhere, like he had every answer to questions Irie hadn't even begun thinking about. It was tremendously impressive and almost made me throw this on our 2016 MOTY List. But too much just got flushed in the home stretch. That said, this will surely make me more likely to seek more HARASHIMA, so there's our silver lining.

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1 Comments:

Blogger zod is my god .fila said...

HARASHIMA had an incredible match last year against his rival KUDO there is a great video package in the link that gets you up to speed on their rivalry when you have time check it out.
Here's the link http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x541kdr_harashima-vs-kudo-ddt-5-31-15_sport

5:16 PM  

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