Jun Akiyama vs. Mizuki Watase (DDT TV SHOW #4 5/23/20)

Match Reviews

Jun Akiyama means more to the contemporary wrestling business these days than just being a grizzled vet who can still go. With all the Four Pillars of Heaven either retired or dead, Uncle Jun is the closest link that modern Japanese wrestling has to one of the most beloved and well remembered periods in professional wrestling history. Akiyama is the last remaining stalwart of the King’s Road era, someone who did not merely carry on that style or was influenced by it, but someone directly involved in some of the greatest matches of all time. He is of that era and there’s a certain reverence afforded to him as that link to something so beloved.

All that is to say that Jun Akiyama is a big fucking deal.

This match understands that perfectly. It’s why Watase tries to jump Akiyama before the bell. Any advantage he can take is one that he’ll need against a living legend. It’s why despite the ambush, Akiyama remains solidly in control through this delightful ten minute match. He towers over Watase both literally and figuratively. He’s weathered wars from far greater opponents and it doesn’t matter how hard Watase grits his teeth and presses on. Uncle Jun is gonna strike him down.

Sure it takes a little longer than Akiyama expects. Watase gets a few great nearfalls at the end but he’s only really delaying the inevitable. When you’re in the ring with someone who can turn a side headlock into a potentially match ending death grip, you’re punching weigh above your own weight. Watase does Akiyama justice here, selling hard for him and getting across what a mountain he is to climb. This is a wonderful match of two men playing their roles to perfection, a top notch example of effective TV wrestling.

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