Segunda Caida

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

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

I Liked Tanahashi/Naito! Phil...Did Not Like Tanahashi/Naito!

Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Tetsuya Naito NJPW 1/4

ER: I much prefer this "not going gentle into the good night" Tanahashi than "promotion ace" Tanahashi. It's similar to Misawa's late career William Munny character, though not nearly as broken or tired. But Tanahashi is sliding somewhat back down the totem pole and now wrestles with a certain disgust, and that disgust shines through in his work. Naito is the clear heel here, but Tanahashi doesn't act like an ultra valiant babyface. He doesn't stoop to Naito's level of disrespect, but he doesn't aim to take the total high road either. Naito just goes right after Tanahashi's leg, really taking it apart, and Tanahashi sells it nicely. Even down the home stretch he didn't completely forget about it. That right there sounds backhanded, but it isn't. Before Naito attacked his knee Tanahashi hit this killer left hand right into Naito's ribs, and it's almost like that one shot totally changed Naito's gameplan. Tanahashi would go after those ribs whenever he could, even later locking on a single leg crab where he was clearly pressing his and Naito's weight into the hurt ribs side. That attention to detail was so damn cool and something you rarely see in matches featuring even the best mat guys. That rib work also lent more weight to his splashes, crossbodies and sentons; seeing Naito wince on a hook to the ribs made you immediately think how much pain he was in after the great high fly flow to the floor. I loved how Naito used spitting in Tanahashi's face as a means to comeback, knowing that was a level even slightly gruff Tanahashi wouldn't stoop to. Even the strike exchange portion had a neat twist, as both men kicked at each other's legs. The kicks didn't look very good, but it tied in great to the match itself, and meant far more than any elbow exchange could have meant. Naito peppered in his comebacks nicely, Tanahashi stacked his offense wisely, and I ended up really digging this.

PAS: I was pretty pissed when Eric nominated this, which meant I had watch NJ Twink main event wrestling, my least favorite kind of wrestling. It really feels like Eric is trying really hard to find good things to say about this

"Didn't completely forget about the leg"

sounds backhanded and it should have been, Tanahashi did sell it at the beginning, but his end of the match selling consisted of him shaking his leg a bit and then hitting all of his dives unencumbered.

"Even the strike exchange portion had a neat twist, as both men kicked at each other's legs. The kicks didn't look very good, but it tied in great to the match itself, and meant far more than any elbow exchange could have meant"

It sure didn't look great, it looked really goofus and while it meant more then any elbow exchange, Eric forgot to mention that it was proceeded by one of those dumbass tickle fight elbow exchanges that looked like Ethan Page practicing in his mirror. The finish run was pretty terrible too, I have no idea what in the sweet name of Chris Kanyon Naito's finish is supposed to be, but it looked super silly and elaborate, the whole end run had this very forced near fallism which is just so inorganic feeling.

There were a couple of things I liked, I thought Tanahashi's dive to the floor looked great, and Naito caught it in a way that made it look like he concussed himself. I also did like the opening body shot, although I think Eric is inventing some grand narrative which isn't there. I didn't hate the beginning, didn't mind the middle, and hated the finish. Not for me.

ER: There is a chance I was two White Russians deep when I nominated this match. I will buy Phil al pastor super burritos from El Farolito next time he is out here, and hope it heals wounds. I stand behind liking this match, though.

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