What an incredibly frustrating match. It’s absurd how close they get to understanding what needs to be done only to swerve into the worst possible decisions instead. This starts of great with Hiromu trying to knock down Ishii only for Ishii to establish his dominance. There’s such bitter disdain from Ishii for this junior trying to get past him. The match works best when it plays off this dynamic of Ishii bullying Hiromu who then has to up his game a little further.

The chops these two exchange were disgusting and definitely added a lot to the early goings of this match. Especially loved how well Hiromu sold the chops in the first act of the match. He really looks far more beaten than most of Ishii’s opponents do at that point and it really gets over the fact that Hiromu’s definitely the underdog here despite being the one holding gold.

Then the match just takes a turn. One major transition point comes from Hiromu grabbing a Triangle Choke that goes on for ages. Submissions outside of ZSJ matches already die a death in New Japan let alone a spot like that done in an empty arena. Pure dead silence with Ishii being able to add anything to it but going limp. Horrible spot that killed all the momentum they’d built up.

They try so hard to make up for it though. Too hard probably. A lot of big lariats and big bumps. They definitely wander into the realm of overindulgence here though. A little too much going on, a little too much firing up to the invisible audience. By the end, it all felt very silly and very bloated. Real shame that this gets to hang on the merely very good instead of soaring into the great. More proof that these two, at least, aren’t quite built for the empty arena environment.

One Comment

  1. Strong disagree. I loved this match. Hiromu proved that Juniors can hold their own against heavyweights like Ishii. Honestly it feels like you review NJ just to shit on it. Is there any recent njpw bouts you like or do you just like complaining about because it doesn’t meet your “standerds”

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