A wondrous highlight on a show that I feel will go down in infamy the further out that we get from it. Amidst the crazed scrambling of booking that New Japan faces to react to a global pandemic that should have a put a halt to their product indefinitely, we still get to find precious gems like this hidden amidst the rubble.
As with most things that stand out during the COVID-era, this match excels on doing very simple things to an extremely high standard. Their New Japan Cup match displayed this by having them masterfully fill the void of the empty arena setting with hard strikes and constant struggle. If you liked that match, you’re going to like this match too because it’s more of the same.
Structurally, there are some changes. Where SHO came out as the fiery aggressor in the New Japan Cup match, Shingo felt much more in control through most of this bout. SHO worked from underneath far more even though Shingo did continue the thread of having a bad arm going into this match. I’d say that the decision to have SHO worked from underneath made for this to be a better match as it felt much more like an uphill struggle for SHO to try and topple Shingo which lent a lot of tension and gravity to the comeback spots down the stretch.
SHO’s selling really pushed this to a whole new level for me. He’s really starting to grasp that spaghetti-legged knocked-loopy vibe that borders on the cartoonish but doesn’t quite slip into Ospreay territory for me personally. Seeing him struggle through immense pain to get his offense in on Shingo makes for classic, excellent pro wrestling drama.
This was a great match, at this point we should expect nothing less from these too.