Isami Kodaka © vs. Masa Takanashi for the KO-D Open Weight championship
January 31, 2016
Masa Takanashi excels at cat-and-mouse style matches. Much of his offense is of the quick hit variety – catching guys in funky submission holds, instant pinning combinations, and the like. He spends much of this match leaping onto Kodaka’s back in an attempt to land his sunset flip/Code Red type pinning move. Takanashi does not discriminate on when or where he tried to land the move, even attempting it on the apron to no success. Takanashi’s usual offense combined with the out-of-nowhere nature of his finish made for an exciting atmosphere in which you never really knew when or how he might strike.
The versatile Kodaka – death match worker by day, well-traveled junior heavyweight by night – made for a quality opponent for Takanashi. He was able to react to Takanashi’s sudden offense in a natural way, sell for him in a believable manner, and still get across the idea that Takanashi was the underdog. The match included some token limb work that didn’t play a major role nor did it detract in any major way. Takanashi’s scattered offensive attack does not exactly lend itself to focused limb work by its very nature. This was a match where the execution, quality of offense, pace, and some of the story elements were all strong enough that a very good – rather than simply “good” – match could have and maybe should have emerged.
The major issue holding the match back from being even more enjoyable was that it was a little too busy and went on too long. While the limb stuff did not actively detract from the match, it did muddy it up. It was kind of thrown in and distracted me from the more engaging aspect of the match – the underdog Tanakashi trying to steal a win with his fun offense. The back-and-forth sections of the match had a similar effect. Like a lot of matches, this was one begging for a more compact structure even if that meant a few less attempted near falls. Some of the near falls they did manage were strong (particularly when Takanashi finally hit his signature move) but there was a lot of padding to the ending as there was to all parts of the match.
KO-D Open Weight title matches rarely disappoint me these days and this was no exception, even if it was a great 16 minute match trapped in a 26 minute match’s body.