(01/12) Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

Korauken Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
3 Points (Rope Breaks & Certain takedowns)

Wrestle-1 hasn’t produced anything in its abbreviated existence that someone would really need to go out of his way to see. This match does not necessarily change that trend. It is, however, easily the best match I have seen from the promotion and stands up as a pretty good shoot-style match in its own right.

I have watched some other outings from Funaki in this promotion, including a 2 on 1 comedy handicap versus the Brahman Brothers. Funaki was taken out of his element in a lot of those other matches. Clearly, this style of match versus someone like Takayama is much more in his wheelhouse and it shows. The match starts with feeling out as both go for knuckle locks and end up in the clinch.

They go to the mat a couple of minutes in. Takayama’s ground game impressed me. He rolled, moved around, attempted to pass Funaki’s guard and reversed holds with far more athletic ability than I expected given his age and the fact that “athletic ability” was never a trait he likely included on his resume to begin with. Takayama didn’t do much last year in his match on the March U-Spirits Again card, so my hopes weren’t all that high for him this time. I think have Funaki has an opponent this go-around helped, but in any event he looked a lot better.

Most of the match consists fighting for position and submissions on the mat which is all fairly solid, but the standup portion also had some good spots. Takayama hits a pair of nice suplexes and Funaki contributes a hard-fought-for German Suplex.

The latter Takayama suplex costs Funaki his second point, leaving each wrestler one with one point remaining. Perhaps for that reason – neither one would want to risk being put in a hold while on the mat and losing their last point – they go at it standing for really the first time. Takayama tries some knee lifts, but being the awkward Lurch that he is, he is too slow delivering the knees and Funaki is able to avoid the strikes. Funaki lands a series of open hand strikes before landing a big kick to the hand. Takayama does a great tree-falling sell of the kick with gives Funaki the victory via knockout.

If you are looking for a 2014 shoot-style fix this is the best I have seen so far. At about seven minutes, it is a quick and easy match to get through as well (always a positive in my book).

Shoot Style | Worthwhile | Quality

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