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Friday, June 02, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Suzuki v. Okabayashi

14. Hideki Suzuki v. Yuji Okabayashi BJW 5/5

ER: A big stubborn meathead versus a big calculating meathead, yes please. I appreciate the patience in this one, as it's a Japanese heavyweight singles match that doesn't really see it's first elbow smash until 14 minutes in. This was all about Suzuki crushing and bending Okabayashi's arm in terrible ways, and Okabayashi being a big lug with tunnel vision. Both went in with game plans, both stick to those game plans, one game plan was smarter. The opening knucklelocks were really great, adding some new twists to the match start test of strength, two beefy dudes just locking hands and trying to muscle each other around, looking like they were genuinely putting everything into it. Suzuki goes after the arm from there and it's all nasty, all of it. Okabayashi does not look like a very pliable dude, and Suzuki works armbars and hammerlocks and Okabayashi just wants to use that damn arm. We get a killer camel clutch with Okabayashi bending Suzuki's jaw back with his right arm, while Suzuki rips at his left arm. Okabayashi sold all the arm work great, like a wounded animal who still needed to use his arm and had to work through it to survive. The arm factored into a lot of the match, and by the time Suzuki started throwing blows Oka was at a disadvantage, almost as if Suzuki was purposely keeping Okabayashi's mind off of this turning into a bombfest (Oka threw a couple of his mammoth chops earlier, two blocked by Suzuki, one landed, which is probably when Suzuki thought "I'm gonna have to take that arm, son"). I thought the fighting spirit spot was stupid, but could be convinced that it was Oka's last gasp, using the bad arm for a nasty lariat but it not being enough, and Suzuki - surviving it - really smells blood. Him maneuvering into the match ending octopus hold was awesome, and the elbows to soften Oka up were gross (especially the diving one to a seated Oka). Every moment of this match felt like a struggle, selling put over the rewarding work, just a super satisfying modern Japanese heavyweight match.

PAS: This was really fun, I am not a fan of the Strong BJ guys, but this was a good Okabayashi performance mixed with a great Suzuki performance. Suzuki is one of the only guys still working the MUGA style, and this was a like a classic Osamu Nishimura match. I loved the simplicity and the violence of Suzuki's arm work, lots of bending the elbow awkwardly, pressing his thumbs into soft joints and muscles, just grinding violent stuff. The camel clutch spot was awesome. Suzuki is countering the clutch by mangling the bad arm, but Okaybayashi refuses to let go and tries to rip off Suzuki's jaw with one arm. I really hated the "suplexes don't hurt me" section by Okaybayashi, and after avoiding it the whole match, the had to succumb to the stupid "make faces and hit each other" strike section. Still the actually finish was great, and I loved how Suzuki worked that Octupus until Okabayashi had to quit.


2017 MOTY MASTER LIST


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3 Comments:

Blogger Discotortoise said...

The Strong guys have their individual strengths and weaknesses (and the division really is getting better and more interesting, not the least because of Hideki) but I think that of the more "traditional" black trunk guys who generally commit the worst sins (Sekimoto is the worst of them all for that, an ultimate "like, don't love" guy for me), Okabayashi is definitely the smartest and best of them.

The Fighting Spirit spot here works incredibly well because it DOES have really legitimate context, though it hinges on the bad tendencies of the group as a whole which is funny.

Suzuki's been there full-time for around a year but mostly just been a pissy asshole, picking on meatheaded jovial dopes like Yasufumi Nakanoue & Okabayashi/Sekimoto and corrupting the youth of Big Japan in Takuya Nomura/Yoshihisa Uto. Pretty much playing the role that Minoru Suzuki was playing in NJPW before he got his balls cut off, and better booked because BJW has become gaijin-free for weird reasons so they can't rely on that trope. He is A Damned Suzuki and forever an outsider. But now he's the champ. (They even ran a match two weeks ago on a non-TV card where he and the two sidekicks took the goofy gimmick almost-never-defended six-man titles from Abdullah Kobayashi & two other death match guys. It really is some serious shit. That card also of course had to have an Otsuka match on it because it wasn't making TV.)

So instead of it just being obligatory and lame, it's an awesome moment of Okabayashi taking his stupid-ass promotion on its back and telling this evil bastard that they are gonna do things HIS way, HIS COMPANY'S way, and giving Suzuki the "fuck you" as he summons what he has to get the belt back for Big Japan. It kinda sucks that it's THAT way that he has to do it, but it's a beautiful babyface move from the "promotional hero vs. invading outsider" tradition. It speaks to the decay of wrestling in Japan, sure, (both stylistically and with the instability of promotions) but if you're GONNA DO IT, do it now.

4:43 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

I genuinely appreciate this rundown of the backstory - which I knew nothing about. This makes me want to go back and watch Suzuki's entire run.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Discotortoise said...

Having now seen it, I think that guy guys would mostly really dig Hideki vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani. Loses steam before the end because Kamitani gets a weird cut around his armpit and Suzuki doesn't go in on it but the first 2/3 are great.

10:35 AM  

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