Ariake Coliseum (Tokyo, Japan)
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
I often disagree with Dave Meltzer’s match opinions and ratings. However, I almost always can see where his opinion is coming from and more times than not, our opinions on match quality are within the same realm. When it comes to Taiji Ishimori’s GHC Junior Heavyweight title defense against Daisuke Harada from March of this year, like usual I can see why Meltzer likes the match. I just don’t share the same opinion in the slightest.
Piecing together Dave’s comments on the match, it seems that the creativity of some of the moves and spots, as well as the fast pace, appealed to him. There certainly were some big time moves, some of which I thought were well-executed particularly in the sections that proceeded the stretch run. Ishimori is backed off by the official early in the match when Harada spills to the outside. Ishimori appears to comply, backing into the far corner of the ring. Once the referee moved an inch out of his way, however, Ishimori sprinted across the ring, dove over the opposite ring post, and laid out Harada with an impressive flip dive. The crowd reacted in awe of the sudden burst. It was an effective spot because it came off like a real risk and came out of nowhere, which provided the match with an extra little spark and sense of importance early on.
Meltzer also made mention on Twitter that Ishimori and Harada re-enacted the Sakuraba & Nakamura knee spot from 2013’s Tokyo Dome show. In the original match, that spot saw Sakuraba react to Nakamura shooting in on him the way he might in a shoot fight – with a quick and brutal knee strike to the temple. The move looked so good that it looked like it could have legitimately knocked Nakamura out cold. In this match, the diminutive champion charges at the challenger only for Harada to stick his knee up and catch Ishimori with it in the face. The move generated oohs and has from the crowd and looked good to boot. On a standalone basis, I thought it was a good move and it did serve as a transition into the near fall section. Unfortunately, the stuff that came afterwards paled in comparison.
Where the match fell short – significantly short – for me was that its appeal was all in the quickness and creative moves. That is rarely enough to sustain a match, let alone a 20-minute one. There wasn’t a lot of substance beyond those two elements. The crowd was into the match but not overly so. There was not much in the way of dramatic near falls. The story being told wasn’t overly compelling and at times (particularly down the stretch) it felt like move after move after move. I saw thought it was a bit too much in terms of moves, including a DVD on the apron mid-match that really led nowhere. All of that left me a bit underwhelmed.
I will also say that I was not as impressed with the creativity in the match. I don’t watch a lot of Ishimori but I still didn’t see much that I have not seen from him before, none of which I ever found terribly impressive. I am all for new moves, creativity and innovation, but it goes without saying that it has to be good new moves, good creativity, and good innovation for it to have any value. I am not sure that was the case in this particular match.
Juniors | Common | Hype & Title Switch