Toru Sugiura vs. Masashi Takeda (FREEDOMS Tokyo Death Match Carnival Vol. 1 7/28/20)

Match Reviews

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As I watch more and more deathmatch wrestling in 2020, familiarizing myself with a genre that I’ve mostly avoided throughout my fandom, it’s a match like this that can help clarify certain things. If your primary source of deathmatch wrestling is the American independent scene, it’s nice to take a look at something like this to get a real vibe for the possibilities of what the genre could aspire to.

One of my struggles with deathmatch wrestling is finding the line between good and bad. The violence and injuries are so transparently real that it almost feels wrong and disrespectful to apply any kind of critique to it especially being someone that’s unfamiliar with the genre. But as with most good wrestling, you know it when you see it. And it becomes harder to unsee the farther into things you get.

This is not a classic in any sense but it is a great match wrestled with a lot of intensity and speed. There’s a quickness and urgency to everything here that often feels lacking in other deathmatches I’ve seen recently. Sugiura and Takeda are absolutely going at it full speed ahead and creating dynamic, exciting moments out of their deathmatch spots instead of just plodding along to the next bump onto lighttubes. There’s tension, there’s momentum, there’s heat segments and structure.

And of course there’s brutality.

Takeda skewering Sugiura’s cheek, trying to split his mouth open with a knife, all of that makes for great control segment that Sugiura actively has to overcome. The transition point of Sugiura throwing his weight into Takeda to send him crashing into a pane of glass that shatters in spectacular fashion is exactly as satisfying as it sounds.

This match was certainly on its way to being one of my favorite of the year when it just suddenly stopped. Everything about the situation makes it clear that Takeda had to stop the match due to an injury which is a shame. There was another structure of lighttubes they’d yet to bump into and the end comes at a strange point in the narrative–Takeda kicks out of a pinfall right before the referee makes the decision to cut things off. What a worker.

Even with the abbreviated finish, this is a great display of deathmatch work that showcases the energy, tension, and brutality that I want out of the genre.

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