Laughter can mean so many things.

I recall at the end of The Rise of the Skywalker, I laughed. The kind of defeated laugh that one barks out in the face of obscene absurdity. It’s said that laughter in the face of adversity is a very Filipino trait. Whether that’s true or not, I find it to be true about myself. Difficulty always seems easier to bear with a joke. Laughter is a self-defense mechanism that I turn to often most especially when faced with bad media.

But there is another type of laughter.

It’s the kind of laughter borne out of joy. It rises without effort, a burst of glee manifested in the physical for all to hear. It’s a laughter that can not be suppressed because it’s true. There’s no cynicism, no irony to it. Just joy.

This match filled me with that laughter. It made me giddy with excitement to an embarrassing degree. From the moment, Jon Moxley made his way up the ramp and Suzuki followed him up with a defiant grin on his face. Then they start dueling with the steel chairs like they’re Awesome and Tanaka. Unrealistic? Hell yeah. This match isn’t about realism. It’s about cartoonish violence driven up to the borderline between convincing and ridiculous. While it occasionally slips on that line, it never crosses over for long.

These two men just exude charisma through the whole match. Suzuki with a daring, mocking glee as he pushes and tests this gaijin who dares speak his name. Moxley with the gritted determination to match up to a personal hero as well as the massive, big time selling that one saves for offense that you truly respect. Moxley’s a big time seller to begin with but paired against Suzuki, one of the most legitimately convincing wrestlers of all time, and it’s a recipe for some damn good wrestling.

Looking at this match, it’s easy to point to the moments of overblown character and violence as the highlights. Moxley puts Suzuki through a table and Suzuki smiles, Moxley breaks a chair onto Suzuki’s head, Moxley and Suzuki bash themselves into consciousness with pieces of broken table. Fantastic moments all. Perfect pieces of spectacle to make you jump up and cheer, clap your hands in excitement, to have fun with. These are the things that will catch your eye at first as they should because they feel so truly important and exciting.

Don’t let that distract from the fact that these are two very smart workers who incorporate great details into their work.

Halfway through the match, Suzuki wedges Moxley’s arm into a chair before bashing another chair onto it. Moxley’s sell of it is fantastic–expressive without being goofy. Back in the ring, poised for another strike battle, Moxley throws an elbow with his bad arm to no avail. He’s forced to strike with his less dominant arm, stringing multiple strikes together to rock Suzuki. Throughout the rest of the match, Moxley continues to sell the arm pretty much without fail.

These aren’t workers relying on bombast and spectacle even when they had every right to for this occasion (and I still would have loved it). These are two men pushing the bounds of their creativity, trying to create something special for the fans. It’s so rare in wrestling these days to find something truly special. Those brief glimpses into things that haven’t been crammed down our throats and overdone to death.

This match felt special.

It couldn’t have happened just twelve months ago. Just twelve months ago, the idea of these two ever locking horns didn’t even cross the minds of most people. Dean Ambrose vs. Minoru Suzuki? You’ve been playing Extreme Wrestling Revenge too long. It’s not truly until you hear it for the first time–Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki–that you realize that it must happen.

And here it is. Aren’t we all just so much the better for it?

I could not recommend this match enough. It’s everything I want out of pro wrestling because it makes me happy. Outside of any ideas of aesthetic, quality, or ideas of what good wrestling is, I love this match because it makes me feel good. That feels like such a half-baked, almost shallow reasoning I could possibly give, but at the end of the day, it’s the truest.

So give this match a watch. Give in to the ride.

Have a laugh.


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