Honestly very annoyed that I enjoyed this so much. Will Ospreay already has an overwhelming wave of support from the internet and people with much more sway. The combination of his high profile successes last year and the powerful force of the most influential voices on the internet have led to the narrative that Will Ospreay is the best wrestler in the world.

This is not an unfounded claim. Ospreay had a great year and he did so on one of the most significant stages in the pro wrestling world. I guess it just irritates me as a bit because Ospreay forwards a style of wrestling that doesn’t quite reflect what I want out of wrestling. That’s not to say that Ospreay is a bad wrestler. He was my #4 Wrestler of the Year for 2019. He (usually) makes the most of the opportunities he’s given. I would just prefer those opportunities went to some other workers.

But enough drudgery about Ospreay. This was a great match. These two are incredibly familiar with each other from their long history dating back to the now deceased British indies and it shows. They have an easy chemistry together and they work through the early bits of their match with practiced smoothness. The story of oneupsmanship and counter wrestling they tell does get a little bit old the longer they go but they do sidestep one of the main issues that plague the New Japan title match style: dreadfully slow and boring first acts. This was quick, crisp, and engaging.

They introduce really strong wrinkles into the match down the stretch as well. Ospreay goes after Zack’s leg for a segment and that work bugs Zack for the rest of the match. Even though Ospreay doesn’t get to return to it, I like that it’s a problem for Zack all the way until the finish. He doesn’t have to limp around to sell it but the small acknowledgments he pays it feel satisfying.

There’s also Zack’s dedication to being an absolute prick. I love a finishing into a roll out of the ring spot. It can create so much drama, sometimes even more than a two-count nearfall. And for Zack, it drew some fantastic heat. They go into your standard New Japan finishing stretch. Fast and tense, filled with counters and big moves hitting. My favorite thing about Zack in New Japan is that he’s the only one in the company who’s really gotten submissions over as potential finishers. So any time he grabs a hold on Ospreay on the stretch, it carries far more weight than most any other member of the roster.

So yeah, this was great. Shocker, right? Fast, exciting, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Exactly what I love about secondary title matches in New Japan.

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