Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS Episode 1 Workrate Report

So this is on TV now. I don't love New Japan, but it's in HD so I'm more likely to check it out on my TV than on Dailymotion or something, so let's give it a shot. What's going to be nice going into this is that I flat out don't know much about NJPW at the moment. I like Nakamura and Suzuki a lot. I have not liked a lot of the others guys very much. But this will, in a way, be like Matt going through a bunch of lucha stuff. I've been so far removed from most NJPW for so long that it's basically all new to me. I don't know which matches Meltzer likes, which Tanahashi or Okada matches the NJ fanboys like, don't know their angles or storylines.

Before the match they have a sit down interview with Tanahashi and I actually like his manner and self-depricating humor. Actually kind of reminded me of the way John Cena acts any time other than doing scripted promos.

Also I think this officially marks the first time either Tanahashi or Okada have had a match reviewed on Segunda Caida. Hooray for diversity!

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

So…this match was fine? They did some stuff I liked, some stuff looked great, some stuff looked bad. Tanahashi does little transition stuff really poorly, in a way that's hard to ignore. He throws these wimpy little forearms to get out of a side headlock, light little kicks to the stomach; Okada is guilty of this in different ways, throwing shoulder blocks in the corner that wouldn't crack an egg, and resting in hammerlocks that look like he's a good citizen helping a blind person cross the street. So that kind of stuff was problematic. But there was a lot of the match I really enjoyed. I thought the overall build was really good, there was no overkill and things advanced logically. For that reason I ended up enjoying this a lot more than I expected I would. I really loved all of Okada's crucifix submissions. Mauro Ranallo was on commentary and kept calling every hold by Okada the Deep in Debt. It reminded me of JR yelling 3D every time the Dudleys did anything. But all of the crucifixes looked awesome, and a couple of them looked like some of the more intricate Negro Navarro submissions. Mauro was smart to bring up Okada's time in Mexico during some of these. I also like the continuing knee work by Tanahashi and Okada's selling of it was very good almost up until the end of the match. Even when he went up top for a move (amusingly immediately after Mauro and Barnett mentioned he preferred a ground attack) he rubbed out his knee before diving. And it wasn't in one of those "I'MMMM selling my KNNEEEE" kind of ways that Davey Richards does, there was a lot of nice subtle knee shake outs and things like that. I also liked the times where both men would clearly go for moves without bracing for the miss. Okada flew elbow first into Tanahashi's knees, and in maybe the best spot of the match Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow off the top and Okada gets his knees up, but Tanahashi hits it full on, as if he wasn't expecting to land on knees (even though it was the planned spot). It was such a great spot because Tanahashi flies brutally into knees, but Okada can't capitalize because he immediately is screaming in agony because a large man just landed on both of his knees. Great moment. Earlier Tanahashi also hit a HFF crossbody to the floor that looked really great. All of his HFFs really hit with tons of impact, really one of the better frog splashes I've seen a guy hit. I also liked the running story of Tanahashi not wanting to win by count out, always rolling Okada back in the ring. Fans appreciated it too as he always got polite applause when doing it. Even though the legwork or neck work never really went anywhere, I still thought overall the match was good. It really had a good peak and ended exactly where it should have, and that counts for a lot.

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