(01/04) Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata

New Japan Pro Wrestling
January 4th
Tokyo Dome (Tokyo, Japan)

Goto and Shibata were childhood friends – they wrestled on the same school-age wrestling team – and the promotion did a great job highlighting this fact in the pre-match video.  A language barrier does not come into play when the video is produced thoughtfully and the subject matter (in this case, competing against a longtime friend) is so universal.

Whether the match that followed equaled the video package that proceeded depends on the viewer’s taste.  Goto and Shibata hit each other or more accurately, Goto took quite a beating from Shibata.  The defining part of the match came in the middle stages, when both wrestlers traded suplexes and strikes for a series of one-count near falls.  The late in the match, one-count kick out is a polarizing subject.  Some enjoy or at least don’t have a problem with it as a way of conveying heart and determination and drawing a reaction from the crowd.  Others view such a stretch of near falls much more negatively and at conflict with the basic flow of a pro wrestling match.  Of course, everything is context based so there is no clear-cut answer.

It is an element of pro wrestling that is not going to go away.  Tomohiro Ishii versus Shibata from the G1 Climax last year was considered by many to be the best match of the year and it was a match build around no-selling moves and kicking out at one.  There are enough fans that like to see two guys kill each other without regards to consequence just as much or more than they like to see more methodical, slow-build of a match.  This match avoided going to extremes which helped it remain a tad less polarizing, while at the same time will likely keep it from being heavily praised by either end of the fan spectrum.


Stiff| Watchable | Quality

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