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Saturday, February 20, 2021

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Kotaro Suzuki vs. Tajiri

68. Kotaro Suzuki vs. Tajiri AJPW 1/2

ER: I really liked this. Makes sense that a modern Japan match I really like is going to be between two guys I watched 15-20 years ago. But it felt like more of a modern Japan match, just done really well. Suzuki has really grown into a cooler large junior, the added muscle since his earlier NOAH years making him more interesting. Here they work a simple story around Suzuki battering Tajiri's ribs and body, in a match dominated by Suzuki, but they integrate Tajiri's comebacks as effectively as possible. Tajiri is a game old guy, but this is also a smart way to craft a match around a less game old guy, real smart way to showcase Tajiri (both guys are in their 40s, but at opposite ends). They open with some cool standing grappling that feels more like something from a Regal match, wrist control and Tajiri crossing Suzuki's arms in attempts to control his torso.

Suzuki goes after Tajiri's torso in retaliation, starting with a hard body shot and graduating up to gutbusters and hard knees and more punches and elbows to the gut; he even breaks out a 619 right to the ribcage and a sensible frog splash off the middle buckle. Tajiri uses his kicks to max effectiveness, going right at the collar bones with a running dropkick in the corner and having great aim on all of them, and he's one of the only guys still tossing out a classic Memphis piledriver. Suzuki shoves his hands over Tajiri's mouth when he wisely suspects mist, but Tajiri eventually took advantage of the distracted ref to nail the mist and a great spin kick to the face to finish. I thought these two complemented each other really well, their similarities play well off each other, and this managed to have a lot of movement, but a lot of effective movement.

PAS: Yeah if I am going to watch a Japanese juniors match, I want them to be Senior Juniors. Suzuki isn't great (he wasn't great 20 years ago either), but he did some effective things, although his elbows to the head were so-so, those body shot elbows were nasty, and I liked how he kept Tajiri off of his game with them. The opening matwork section was really cool and something which doesn't exist in major fed Japanese wrestling. Much of the match was Suzuki bottling up Tajiri, including blocking the mist with his hand to set up some very cool magistral roll ups. Tajiri is still a heck of a one shot wrestler, and when he finally hits the mist/buzzsaw kick combo it looks as great as it did in ECW in the 90s. I think I would have rated this higher if Tajiri was unleashed a little more, but this was entertaining well executed stuff, which isn't super common in Japan these days.




2018 MOTY MASTER LIST

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