Go Shiozaki vs. Masato Tanaka (NOAH Step Forward N1 2/9/22)

Match Reviews

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Go Shiozaki’s the most watchable wrestler in NOAH. I’ve mentioned a lot how most of the really hyped up NOAH main events don’t do it for me, but when Go’s in the ring, it’s a little bit easier to bridge the gap to greatness. Go has the highest floor in NOAH and it also helps when he’s not being booked to go 30 plus minutes.

Go’s great in this, of course, even despite some of the flaws in his overall game. For example, yes the chops are excellent as they always are with Go. But some of his signature power moves just don’t land particularly well. Of course, that all matters a whole lot less than the fact that Go’s so damn sympathetic and charismatic in the ring. His expressions always put across the struggle he has to get through, one can’t help but get behind him and want all the very best for him.

That manifests in this match via some great leg selling in the early half of the match. Tanaka goes after the leg for a while and that plays out extremely well because of Go’s hobbled determination. That thread vanishes in the later half of the match, but it’s not like Tanaka went back to it all the match either. It’s fine because Tanaka’s on best behavior here as well. Everything’s structured well enough around Go’s selling and Tanaka’s striking that everything stays compelling throughout. 20 minutes is still a little bit much given what Tanaka brings to the table, but it’s a decent enough sweet spot for the kind of main event they were going for.

Via sheer force of Go’s personality (and his chops) and Tanaka’s elbows, this is just close enough to great to recommend.

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