Masato Tanaka vs. MAO (DDT Into the Fight 2020 2/23/20)

Match Reviews

Masato Tanaka having a 4 star match in 2020 is just one of those weird things I never would have seen this time last year. Yes, that Masato Tanaka. The one who went neck first through a few hundred tables in the late 90s and early 2000s. For some reason, that guy is the top champion of DDT in 2020. Go figure.

Tanaka wasn’t bad in this performance but he certainly wasn’t the star. That has to go to MAO. First time for me seeing MAO in action and he definitely impressed. In a match segmented into three very distinct parts with varying styles, MAO managed to shine through all three of them, leading Tanaka on for the ride.

For the first act, MAO works a lot British style chain wrestling techniques to find his way in and out of Tanaka’s grapples. It’s never quite as smooth as you’d want it to be especially on the Johnny Saint “take my hand” escape but it’s fine enough to be fun. A lot of the early work is MAO getting his shine bamboozling Tanaka and having fun at his expense.

That all changes when Tanaka drops MAO with a brainbuster on the outside. MAO does a lot to sell that damage even by the time he gets into the ring. He’s on wobbly legs and it feels like a genuine struggle for him as Tanaka settles into a control segment. It’s not an amazing control segment by any means but the pace does spike again once we hit the ref bump.

From there, we get some trademark DDT shenanigans with MAO pulling out the plastic crates. Always a great sight and a great sound to see someone bump through them. Tanaka gets control back though and nails a sweet splash off the top through a table on the floor. With our shenanigans segment over, things settle into a traditional Japanese title match finishing stretch.

MAO does well in this segment as the fiery babyface. He makes the most of one count pop up by struggling on wobbly legs and throwing his weight behind some great looking elbow exchanges. He’s easy to root for here and he sells the bombs from Tanaka well. It’s sad to see him put down in the end but it was a great performance all around.

Not much else to add here, just a fun DDT main event with a little bit of something for everyone.

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