Features

Match Reviews: 5 Famous Under-15-Minute Matches (Lesnar/Balor, Moxley/Takagi, Shibata/Ibushi, more)

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This is a closer look at some shorter matches that were fun to watch like Brock Lesnar vs. Balor in WWE, Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi in NJPW and Kobashi & Muto as a tag team.

Is it better to have something done quickly and succinctly or to drag it out in order to be thorough? Different people have different answers to that question, and the issue applies to wrestling just like with any other field. Some people prefer the longer and more drawn-out matches whereas others prefer that matches get to the point already.

To that end, Once again I’ve found five famous matches that went under fifteen minutes in length to see if they were just as good as their longer counterparts. But do these shorter contests measure up? Read on to find out.

5. Kenta Kobashi & Keiji Muto vs. Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano – AJPW/NJPW/NOAH All Together 2011

Background: All Together was an incredibly special show. It was a charity event held in response to the tragic 2011 Tohoku earthquake that killed almost 20,000 people and either displaced or destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands more. In response, the three biggest wrestling companies in Japan – All Japan, New Japan, and NOAH – put aside their differences to create a special dream show with all the proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross. As a ‘supercard’ show, All Together featured genuine dream matches that the crowd would rarely see. The penultimate match on the first night saw Keiji Mutoh and Kenta Kobashi – two of the best in-ring grapplers of all time – team together against the lower-card gimmick duo of Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano.

As a comparison, imagine 2021 Roman Reigns and Kenny Omega teamed together against Orange Cassidy and a still-in-his-comedic-prime Santino Marella. Sure, this was a one-sided match from booking alone. But competitiveness wasn’t the goal here; this was a pick-me-up match designed to lift up the spirits of a nation suffering the aftermath of a genuine tragedy.

The match: Iizuka and Yano rush Kobashi and Muto before the bell rings. Yano chokes Kobashi with his shirt as Iizuka brawls with Muto on the other side of the ring. The crowd boos loudly as Muto is beaten two-on-one. They go for a double clothesline but Muto rolls under and dropkicks both Yano and Iizuka at the same time. In comes Kobashi to hit some chops and make the crowd chant along. He and Muto double elbow and double suplex Yano and Kobashi pins for a two-count. Kobashi lands some falling chops and then tags Muto, who hits his snapmare/flashing elbow combo, followed by a dragon screw and an STF. Iizuka breaks up Muto’s hold so Muto applies a sleeper. Yano gets a ropebreak so Kobashi tags in. Yano rakes his eyes but Kobashi hits back with a ton of neck chops. He goes for his half-nelson suplex but Yano pulls himself into the ref and hits a low blow in the commotion. Kobashi rolls to the floor as Mito’s knocked off the apron. Yano grabs some scissors but Kobashi blocks his attack. Iizuka comes over and whacks Kobashi with a non-folding chair. The ref gets distracted by Muto as he tries to take the chair and Yano uses that to untie one of the turnbuckle pads.

Kobashi hits more chops but Yano pulls him down by his hair. Yano sends Kobashi into the exposed corner and tags Iizuka, who does the same and then chokes Kobashi with some rope. This goes on for a while because the ref is once again distracted by Muto, who’s so frustrated that his opponents keep cheating that he tries to get any weapon but the ref’s on him like a hawk. Iizuka stops choking Kobashi and covers for only a two-count. Then Iizuka chokes Kobashi with his hands and bites his forehead. Iizuka sends Kobashi into the exposed corner again and Yano tries the same when he tags in but Kobashi reverses. Kobashi sends Yano into the corner which gives Kobashi the chance to recover. Kobashi crawls over to his corner but Iizuka knocks Muto off at the last second. Yano goes for a suplex but Kobashi overpowers him and lands a suplex of his own. Finally Kobashi tags Muto.

Muto runs wild with dropkicks to knees and dragon screw leg whips. He locks Yano in a Figure-4 leglock as Kobashi keeps Iizuka at bay with an abdominal stretch. Yano gets a ropebreak so Muto hits him with a corner shining wizard. Muto hits another dragon screw and goes for another shining wizard but Yano blocks it and tags Iizuka. Iizuka chokes Muto with the turnbuckle pad’s rope but then walks into a dragon screw. Kobashi tags in and lands corner machine gun chops. He lands 68 consecutive chops followed by a huge discus chop to Iizuka’s neck. Kobashi goes for the half-nelson but Yano hits him from behind and Iizuka boots Muto to the floor. Iizuka hits a jawbreaker, Yano hits a corner splash, and Iizuka follows with a spinebuster on Kobashi. Yano brawls with Muto ringside as Iizuka locks Kobashi in a sleeper. Kobashi fights to the ropes and the ref pulls Iizuka backwards which distracts the ref long enough for Yano to smash Kobashi’s head in with a chair. Iizuka hits a facebuster and pins but only gets a two-count. Yano distracts the ref again as Iizuka grabs his iron hand. He swings it and Kobashi ducks and hits a half-nelson. Yano comes in with the chair but Kobashi smashes him with a lariat. Muto comes in and hits shining wizards on both Iizuka and Yano. Then Kobashi signals to the turnbuckle and the crowd goes nuts. Muto hits a rib breaker, followed by a diving moonsault. Then he points to Kobashi. Scoop slam on Iizuka. Followed by another diving moonsault. One, two, three! Kobashi and Muto win the match!

Winners after 14:58: Kenta Kobashi and Keiji Muto

Review: This was pure fanservice, nothing more. Kobashi and Muto were both WAY past their primes and had more injuries between them than AEW and WWE’s 2022 rosters combined. Yet they still played the hits here to get the crowd behind them. Kobashi and Muto spent most of the match taking hit after hit until it was time for their heroic comeback, which included two incredible moonsaults from two guys with notoriously-bad knees. But it was enough to really pop the crowd and make them happy. The only thing that could’ve improved this match would be if the ref wasn’t such an idiot. He got distracted way too often and seemed completely lost in the match, almost missing a handful of pin-falls. But like I said, this match is sold on its novelty and its significance instead of the quality of its action.

Final Rating: **3/4

 

4. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Tiger Mask IV [c] vs. Naomichi Marufuji – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IV

Background:New Japan had an on-again-off-again working relationship with Pro Wrestling NOAH from 2001 until about 2016 and then re-established it in late 2021. During that first period, NOAH wrestlers would work New Japan shows and vice-versa. One of the biggest NOAH names to wrestle regularly on New Japan shows was Marufuji, who came over often and won many big matches on New Japan programming while representing NOAH. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone; as Misawa’s immediate protégé and later his replacement, Marufuji was and still is an incredible wrestler with an extensive catalogue of great matches. Marufuji’s 2009 was a mixed bag to say the least, what with Misawa dying in the ring and all. Marufuji hoped to start 2010 on a much higher note by taking New Japan’s (at the time) second-most valuable title away from them when he took on the fourth iteration of Tiger Mask (TM4 hereafter) for the junior heavyweight title.

The match: This is for TM4’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Both wrestlers trade strikes and quick reversals early on. Marufuji knocks TM4 down but TM4 answers with a monkey flip. TM4 misses a crossbody but then shuts Marufuji down with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Marufuji recovers at ringside for a bit and when he returns he applies a standing cravate hold that he soon turns into a snapmare/running face stomp combo. He follows with a neck twist and pins for a one-count and then applies a chinlock. Marufuji places TM4 in the 619 position and hits a much more vicious version of Roman Reigns’ drive- by kick for a two-count and then locks in a camel clutch. Tm4 fights out, criss-crosses with Marufuji, and hits a kick combo to down the NOAH wrestler. Tm4 follows with a prison lock and keeps stretching Marufuji’s leg and slaps him each time he tries fighting out. He sends Marufuji into a corner and blocks a kick combo from Marufuji but can’t block a headscissor into the turnbuckle. Marufuji recovers quickly and hits a corner elbow splash. That’s followed by another criss-cross and a running lariat from Marufuji and both a running curb stomp and a kneeling superkick, all of which yield Marufuji a two-count. Marufuji follows with another superkick and a Shiranui. One, two, TM4 kicks out. He charges again but runs into another kick combo. TM4 ascends the top rope but Marufuji dropkicks him to the floor. Marufuji follows with a springboard dropkick and then winds up for a huge move. He charges for a suicide dropkick…but TM4 kicks him first. Marufuji lands hard on the apron and the two men trade kicks at ringside. TM4 tries escaping to the ring but Marufuji cuts him off with a rebound clothesline.

In the ring, TM4 gets up first and hits a nasty face kick followed by a Brainbuster for a two-count. Marufuji blocks a Tiger suplex and goes for another Shiranui but Tm4 blocks that and sends Marufuji into the turnbuckle. He tries an avalanche Tiger suplex but Marufuji avoids it, only to get kicked in his face for his defiance. TM4 takes over with a diving Tiger Driver but only manages a two-count. He tries a Tiger suplex but Marufuji lands on his feet. Marufuji tries another Shiranui but TM4 counters into a successful Tiger suplex. One, two, Marufuji kicks out. Tm4 follows with a side kick to the head and a moonsault double knee splash for another two-count. TM4 locks in a double wrist-lock. Marufuji fights out so TM4 goes for a Tiger Driver. Marufuji blocks that too so TM4 hits a chickenwing suplex TM4 signals the end and goes for a wrist-clutch Tiger suplex. Marufuji blocks and hits another kick combo. Spanish Fly from the top rope. TM4 kicks out. Marufuji hits a suplex into a superkick and signals the end. Tiger Flowsion! One, two, and three! Marufuji beats TM4. NOAH takes New Japan’s junior heavyweight title!

Winner and NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion after 14:14: Naomichi Marufuji

Review: If you like wrestlers like Will Ospreay then you’ll love Marufuji since he’s the progenitor of the modern high-speed spotty wrestling style. Marufuji and TM4 had solid chemistry and delivered a typical New Japan junior-style match. it had lots of fast-paced action early on and some crazy high-spots, and then it shifted to finisher city. Marufuji went after TM4’s neck early and went back to it over and over with his finishers and signature moves. The counters at the end were pretty cool and TM4 busted out some special moves like the chickenwing suplex and the diving Tiger Driver. But Marufuji was simply one step ahead with his wide array of kicks and unique moves. I wouldn’t call this a classic or anything, but for an under-15-minute match it was more than solid. It didn’t need more of a story than champion vs. challenger and the pacing was just right.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

3. WWE Universal Championship Match:: Brock Lesnar [c] vs. Finn Balor – WWE Royal Rumble 2019

Background: The original plan for this match was Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman, but Strowman lost his shot because he broke Vince McMahon’s limo and then argued with Vince some more. Then Vince scheduled a Fatal-4-way match on WWE Raw between Balor, John Cena, Drew McIntyre, and Baron Corbin. Balor won, earning the right to face Lesnar.

The match: Balor hits a running dropkick the second the bell rings. He lands a ton of punches and then kicks from the apron. He stomps onto Lesnar’s back and hits lots of running forearms and kicks. He charges again but Lesnar counters into an overhead belly-to-belly suplex that sends Balor to the floor. Balor’s offense < 1 Lesnar suplex. Lesnar throws Balor around ringside and then lands another belly-to-belly on the ringside mats. Lesnar goes for a powerslam onto the ringside announce table but Balor escapes and Lesnar hits it instead. Balor pushes Lesnar’s midsection into the edge of the announce table twice. Lesnar fights back with a kneelift and tosses Balor back into the ring. Balor attacks Lesnar by the ropes but Lesnar throws him around like a ragdoll. Lesnar follows with some corner shoulder thrusts and a belly-to-belly suplex. Then a second belly-to-belly sends Balor across the ring a second time. Lesnar charges but Balor kicks him in the gut. Balor follows with one slingblade but Lesnar blocks a second one with a clothesline. Lesnar goes for a German suplex but Balor back kicks Lesnar’s damaged abdomen again. He tries again but this time he can’t even maintain his own strength to connect with the German. Desperate, Lesnar tries the F-5 but Balor pulls an Eddy and counters into a DDT. One, two, Lesnar kicks out. Balor lands both single leg and double leg stomps to Lesnar’s midsection. Balor dropkicks Lesnar to ringside and lands three suicide dives. Balor lands a running corner dropkick and ascends the top turnbuckle. Coup de grâce connects. Balor connects with his double stomp finisher. One, two, Lesnar kicks out and switches into a kimura lock. Balor tries crawling to the ropes but they’re beyond his reach. He has no choice but to tap. The ref calls for the bell. Lesnar retains.

Winner and STILL WWE Universal Champion after 8:40: Brock Lesnar

Review: For anyone that might not be aware, Lesnar suffered from diverticulitis years earlier when he was still competing in MMA. This is how he described what diverticulitis feels like:

I have a high threshold for pain, higher than most guys, and I couldn’t deal with it. It felt like I had taken a shotgun blast to the stomach, and then someone poured in some salt and Tabasco and stirred it all up with a nasty pitchfork.” – Brock Lesnar in his book ‘Deathclutch’.

So for anyone wondering why he was selling so much for Balor, it was because Balor took a creative direction for this match. He knew he was utterly f**ked so he evened the playing field by exploiting a little-known weakness of Lesnar’s (“little known” because WWE has done everything in their power to conceal any fact about Lesnar that would make him weak, vulnerable, or otherwise human). That opening was critical because without it this would’ve been a three-minute squash. Instead, the match had some degree of competitiveness to it. Balor actually came pretty close to beating Lesnar and it was believable because Lesnar was actually selling like he was in legitimate pain. It reached the point that Lesnar couldn’t even rely on his power advantage and lift Balor up for his usual suplexes. He had to use a kimura out of nowhere to beat Balor. It was interesting seeing Lesnar in a state of desperation but that’s how well Balor fought. And while Lesnar did win, he didn’t win in the way he wanted. Balor exposed a weakness, and so Balor had to be punished, which is why Lesnar attacked him post-match with two more German suplexes. This was terrific as a sprint that shaved away all the niceties and fluff. It was to the point, clever, and refreshing. Balor used speed and logic to try and destroy a seemingly impossible opponent and came closer than anyone thought he would. Small wonder that the immediate reaction in the arena to Lesnar’s win was one of disappointment.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

2. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kota Ibushi – NJPW G1 Climax 2015 – July 29th, 2015

Background: This was the first time Shibata and Ibushi ever faced each other and it was by sheer luck that it was happening during the G1. Both of them were of similar stature and style, but Ibushi was a bit more ‘diverse’ in terms of how he wrestled whereas Shibata preferred simple hard strikes and submission holds.

The match: the crowd chants for Shibata as the bell rings. The wrestlers start with a full contact kickboxing exchange to set the tone for the match. That’s followed by some amateur grappling hold exchanges that end with Ibushi in a grounded chinlock. Ibushi gets a ropebreak and Shibata reluctantly and carefully lets go. Shibata swings for a massive kick but Ibushi dodges at the last possible second. Ibushi hits some forearms from the apron and goes for a springboard but Shibata hits first with an uppercut. A running boot sends Ibushi to the floor and then Shibata sends Ibushi into and then over the steel barricade.

Shibata throws Ibushi into the ring and applies a Figure-4 leglock but Ibushi gets a ropebreak. Shibata lands some stiff forearms and goes to the opposite corner for a big charging attack but Ibushi chases after him and lands a surprise corner back elbow. That angers Shibata and he drags Ibushi into the corner and hits more forearms. He charges again but Ibushi chases him again and lands a yakuza kick in the corner. Then Ibushi pulls a page out of Shibata’s playbook with corner forearms and a big running basement dropkick. But Shibata gets up and he is PISSED OFF. He and Ibushi go nose-to-nose. Ibushi hits some elbows but they do absolutely nothing. Ibushi hits elbow after elbow but Shibata marches further forward with each one. He backs Ibushi into a corner and a single Shibata elbow drops Ibushi down. Shibata hits a corner elbow flurry. Ibushi slumps down but then forces himself up to his feet. A single uppercut sends Ibushi’s arms flailing. Shibata stomps the hell out of Ibushi in the corner using both feet. Shibata follows with a running facewash in the corner and his own signature corner dropkick. He follows with a neck lock suplex and pins for a two-count. Ibushi screams in agony as Shibata applies an abdominal stretch Ibushi gets a ropebreak so Shibata kicks him hard, but then Ibushi responds with a standing dropkick. Ibushi wills himself onto the apron and connects with his triangle moonsault to the floor.

Back in the ring, Shibata gets to his knees when Ibushi starts kicking his chest with full force. Shibata shakes his head and then gestures for Ibushi to bring it and hit him harder. Ibushi does as he’s told and kicks Shibata brutally hard. Ibushi winds up for a big kick but Shibata catches his leg. Ibushi hits first with a martial arts rush, followed by a big roundhouse kick and a corkscrew standing moonsault splash. One, two, Shibata kicks out. Ibushi goes for Shibata’s running PK finisher. Shibata catches Ibushi’s leg and Ibushi instinctively hits forearms to Shibata’s jaw. Except Shibata tanks all of them like a total boss and smashes Ibushi with an elbow of his own. Shibata goes for a PK. Ibushi dodges and hits a roundhouse kick that makes Shibata stagger. Ibushi goes for a Pélé kick. Shibata catches his leg and applies an STF. The crowd seems to be more split now as Ibushi reaches the ropes, forcing a break. Shibata responds with a sleeper old but Ibushi gets another ropebreak. Ibushi blocks a German suplex so Shibata lands a backdrop suplex. But Ibushi gets up right away. German suplex by Ibushi. Shibata gets up and hits an elbow for a one-count. Roundhouse kick by Ibushi. One-count. Roundhouse kick by Shibata. One-count. LARIATO by Shibata. ONE-count. Ibushi tries getting up but collapses. The crowd chants for Shibata as Ibushi drills him with a running lariat. One, two, Ibushi kicks out. Ibushi goes for his Last Ride Powerbomb. Shibata counters into a Death Valley Driver. Both men collapse and then get to their knees. Forearm exchange. Both men keep hitting each other as they fight to their feet. Ibushi gets the upper hand and unloads with a huge palm strike, elbow, and punch flurry that forces Shibata to protect his head. Ibushi hits two more roundhouse kicks. Shibata catches his leg, slaps the taste out of his mouth, and locks in a sleeper hold. Ibushi reaches out to grab the ropes but Shibata pulls him back. Ibushi starts fading so Shibata props him up in a seated position…and crushes him with a running Penalty Kick. One, two, and three! Shibata wins!

Winner after 13:25: Katsuyori Shibata

Review: Awesome match. This was the first and only time these two very similar wrestlers clashed. Both were martial arts practitioners outside wrestling and brought that into this match with their kickboxing exchanges and STIFF kicks to the chest. The match was a nonstop display of machismo and one-upmanship. Shibata was the favorite and that irked Ibushi so much that he hit Shibata with all his might. But Shibata was a tough badass that withstood Ibushi’s punishing attacks without so much as flinching and then dished out punishment in equal measure. Ibushi tried to copy Shibata’s moves, mannerisms, and his no-selling, but he couldn’t succeed fully. Ibushi tried everything, from trading strikes with Shibata to his patented high-flying to high-impact bombs to mind games. But none of that worked. Shibata was a superior wrestler and fighter here. He endured way more punishment and hit Ibushi harder. But man was it fun watching these two badasses fight. Shibata may be relatively bland and one-dimensional by modern standards, but he knows what works and how to get everything out of it. And his performance showed that it’s better to excel in one field/style than be jack of all trades and master of none.

Final Rating: ****1/4

 

1. Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi – NJPW G1 Climax 2019 – July 24th, 2019

Background: Both Takagi and Moxley made their G1 debuts in the same tournament and were in the same block together. Takagi graduated from being a junior heavyweight and wanted to prove he belonged with the true heavyweights of New Japan. Meanwhile, Moxley graduated from awful promos and tacky gimmicks that he endured during his last year with WWE and wanted to shake off the dark cloud that still lingered overhead following his departure from WWE. He needed a true fresh start, and the G1 was a great way for him to really separate himself from his former employer. And at this point in the G1, Moxley was at the top of his block and hoped to maintain that positive momentum.

The match: Things start off hot with some elbow exchanges until Moxley bites Takagi. They trade corner strike combos with Takagi hitting harder and faster than Moxley. Neither man goes down on a shoulder tackle so Takagi tries cutting Moxley off with a clothesline against the ropes. Moxley succeeds in clotheslining Takagi down and then to ringside. Moxley connects with a suicide dive. Takagi catches him and hits a Death Valley Bomb on the ringside mats.

Moxley reverses an Irish whip and sends Takagi into the steel barricade and then the ringpost. He pulls out a table and teases powerbombing Takagi through it. Takagi escapes and teases a DVB through the same table. Moxley blocks, traps Takagi’s leg between the ropes, and hits a running dropkick to that leg. He chokes Takagi with his leg until the ref makes him stop and then he applies a Flgure-4 leglock. Takagi rolls to the ropes but Moxley takes his time letting go. Moxley teases his Deathrider finisher but Takagi powers out, blocks a boot, and hits a corner clothesline. That’s followed by a second one in the opposite corner and a vertical suplex by Takagi. He grabs his knee from the pain but still manages to cover for a two-count. Moxley resists a backslide so Takagi sets him up for a running basement lariat. Takagi moves slower than usual because of Moxley’s Figure-4 so when Takagi connects it has less power and Moxley manages a counter. Takagi blocks an uranage and hits a back elbow, but when he tries running the ropes he’s still too slow and Moxley dropkicks his bad leg. Moxley smashes Takagi’s leg into the ringpost then channels Bret Hart with a corner Figure-4. Moxley hits another corner clothesline but Takagi fires up. Moxley charges again but this time Takagi ducks and hits a German suplex. Moxley rolls through and lands his own German. Both guys fight up and hit simultaneous clotheslines. Takagi gains control with a counter discus clothesline. Both wrestlers collapse.

Both guy fight to their feet and trade punches and forearms. Takagi hits a forearm to stop Moxley from biting him. He goes for a kick but Moxley counters with a dragon screw leg whip. He tries another Figure-4. Takagi counters into an inside cradle for a two-count. Takagi blocks a Texas cloverleaf so Moxley hits him with a sliding lariat for another two-count. Takagi resists being sent into a corner so Moxley weaves his leg through the ropes and kicks it some more. That causes Takagi to collapse midway through another Irish whip so Moxley pulls down his knee sleeve. Moxley charges. Takagi counters with a Gory facebuster. He follows with a standard clothesline and then a full-power running umping bomber lariat. One, two, Moxley kicks out.

Takagi tries his Last of the Dragon finisher but his knee gives out. Moxley takes advantage with a DDT for a two-count. Moxley tries the Deathrider. Takagi pushes them both to the floor and hits a knee crusher into the table he setup earlier. Moxley grabs two chairs, wraps Takagi’s leg in one, and smashes it with the other. How this isn’t a DQ is unknown; maybe the ref is reluctant to disqualify anyone to protect the tournament itself. Takagi starts moving at ringside. He uses the barricade to pull himself up. He can’t even maintain his balance as the ref starts counting. Then somehow, Takagi barely makes it into the ring at 19.6. Moxley takes advantage with a running Regal Knee. Then he goes for the Deathrider. Takagi resists and tries a counter but Moxley hits an elbow. Takagi fires back with a lariat. Moxley retaliates with a head-butt and tries another knee. Takagi counters with his Made in Japan modified Fisherman Buster. One, two, Moxley kicks out. Takagi hits whatever he can: head-butts, lariats, anything. Moxley kicks Takagi’s bad leg and counters a lariat into a Deathrider attempt. Takagi counters out and tries his LOTD finisher. Moxley escapes and kicks the bad leg again. Regal Knee to the back of Takagi’s head. Followed by a third knee strike. One, two, Takagi survives. Texas cloverleaf hold by Moxley. Takagi reaches for the ropes but Moxley pulls him back. Takagi has no choice but to tap. Moxley gets two more points to maintain his lead in the G1!

Winner after 14:45: Jon Moxley

Review: Excellent match. That was a fun New Japan-style war. Takagi was his usual high-impact self but Moxley showed a lot more than what most people might’v e been used to. He showed some psychology, did some clever counters, followed a gameplan to its conclusion, and, well wrestled. He wasn’t a wacky character here; he was a credible threat. He was smart to target Takagi’s legs, thereby achieving two goals of both making it easier to make Takagi tap out and taking way both Takagi’s speed and power. Moxley showed the importance of coming back to something you setup at the start of a match. He kept going for Takagi’s legs so that Takagi couldn’t hit his biggest moves reliably and that he wouldn’t be able to move at his usual blistering speed. Moxley was able to hit more often and more effectively because he got more openings due to Takagi’s slowness. And while Takagi managed to hit back a few times, he never really came close to winning. Nothing he hit was at 100% power while Moxley wore him down bit by bit until there was nothing left. Plus it was great seeing Moxley win the match with a submission hold on Takagi’s weakened leg instead of going for his usual finisher. It’s rare seeing such a coherent match with the important stuff followed upon from start to finish. This really is a gem; and if you ask me, it’s even better than Moxley’s overly-praised G1 match with Ishii. This is way more worth watching than that one, that’s for sure.

Final Rating: ****1/2

 

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.