El Desperado vs. Kosei Fujita (NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 31 N2 5/13/24)

Match Reviews

Featured image by @IssitaMarie

This review was commissioned by Gary over on my Ko-fi account.

First and foremost, a really great El Desperado performance. There’s a real simple story on display here for Desperado working to take out the knee while the younger man tries to gut it out and survive the attack. To that end, Desperado’s genuinely excellent. Not only being patient enough to feel things out in the opening moments, but also building the importance around Fujita’s bad knee as the match progresses. The dueling leg locks to the floor was a great way to signal the narrative direction of the match, and Despy shines in his ability to stay laser focused exactly where he needs to be in order to get to the finish by tapping out Fujita.

Too bad then that Fujita really lets him down here. There’s a lot of promise that Fujita shows through this. He’s expressive and I enjoy him down on the mat rolling about with Despy, feeling for holds, and even getting his own turn to twist the junior mainstay up into knots. On the defensive though, Fujita falls flat. There’s some decent in-moment selling of the leg when Despy starts to get to work on it, but as with so many young wrestlers, Fujita lets it all go when it really counts the most. All the comebacks ignore the leg entirely, building around springboards, kicking, and running. Maybe if he’d come through the other side victorious, it’d be less egregious, but when the whole point of the match is Despy tearing his leg apart so bad that he has to tap out in the end, then this is not the way to go. Throw in a few other mechanical issues like very hit and miss elbow strikes, and it’s a performance that speaks more to Fujita’s inexperience than his potential.

Rating: ***1/2

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