Featured image by @NAPP0Nx_x_x

There’s something about the tone of this match that just strikes a chord with me. The action is fast paced and violent yet there’s something outwardly lighthearted and even slightly comedic about this match. It comes to light before the bell even rings as Abe and Nomura are all smiles coming into this match. Add to that the little piece of character work of Aoki wanting to prove himself worthy to Otani by standing up to the BJW Tag Champs. It’s all very fun and easy even as they start trading incredibly heavy hands and shoot headbutts.

Otani is a delightful old man presence through this whole thing. He’s hard enough to continue enduring Abe’s kicks and pushing through the pain to go strike for strike with him. But he also wants to give the much younger Aoki a chance to prove himself, perhaps best embodied when Aoki makes the bold decision to take on both Astronauts on his own. Aoki gets properly punished for his hubris as well as the Astronauts don’t hesitate to batter him into the dust.

While this isn’t quite as outwardly violent as the Astronauts tag title win which had a little more gravitas to it, this packs much more into a tighter space. The stiff strikes are still there and the shoot headbutts too even though those don’t quite land with the same crunch. The violence is tempered by the lighthearted tone but the tone allows them the freedom to move at such a brisk pace while creating small moments that make this match feel so much richer for it.

These four men cram a lot into the 14 minutes they use here. It never feels overwrought though. They fill the short time but they don’t go beyond it. It’s masterfully paced, not a dull second in this thing. A truly excellent match from one of the only truly excellent tag teams in Japan today.

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