Featured image by @40110Edo
Hate goes such a long way to making wrestling work. In this case, we have the animosity between Gabe Kidd and Kaito Kiyomiya carried over from their very physical encounter from the G1. Kaito, having been gatekept from the top blonde golden boy of NJPW, gets to deal with a scruffier more English blonde instead. To their credit, it’s a pairing that works. Kiyomiya in New Japan functions best as an outsider with a grievance and that pairs well with Kidd’s angry heel shtick. It highlights the chips on both men’s shoulders and gives them a great outlet for it. Their interactions are the highlights, from having to be pulled apart before the bell, to their heated skirmishes in the ring.
Outside of that though, I’m just sort of blown away by the energy that Coughlin and Kidd both bring to this match. They’re so vibrant and lively, attacking with such ferocity but taking on that same energy with their selling. When it’s time to start bumping and selling, they’re great at that too, Kidd especially has started really refining his heel stooge selling to make his defeats feel more satisfying. Coughlin and Kidd are sort of at the point where they can’t help but be let down by their competition. Kiyomiya’s good in this, but someone as unseasoned as Oiwa can’t help but drag things down when he fails to match the energy the heels bring.
Even the non-finish can’t dampen this too much. It’s in line with the tone of the match, it’s consistent with the Kiyomiya/Kidd G1 match, and it leaves the door open for more to come from this rivalry. When hate burns so bright, there’s a lot you can get away with.