Kobe Sambo Hall (Kobe, Hyogo, Japan)
There were some really good elements to this 25-minute (?)* draw between Mochizuki and T-Hawk. I am just not sure it all came together as well as it ideally could have.
About three or four minutes in – after a feeling out process – T-Hawk attempts a dive but Mochizuki cuts him off with a forearm to the head. Hawk tumbles to the outside and is greeted by a Mochizuki brain buster on the floor. The match could have gone one of two directions at this point:
(1) The brain buster could have opened the flood gates to 20+ minutes of big moves OR
(2) It could have been used as a transition spot for Mochizuki to take control.
They chose the second path. T-Hawk stayed outside for a long time – well longer than 20 seconds – clutching his neck and shoulder. There was a neat moment where he slid in to beat the 20-count before immediately rolling back to the floor where he continued to grimace in pain. Back in the ring Mochizuki went work on the arm and generally smacked T-Hawk around. I like all of this.
In general, I thought the sections where they traded strikes fit into the context of the match better than they sometimes do. T-Hawk sold everything and generally when Mochizika shook off the strikes it was because T-Hawk was clearly delivering the chops at half strength after being beaten down. The idea that Mochizika didn’t seem to avoid any of T-Hawk’s strikes, but that eventually comes back to bite him was also well done. There was some moments later in the match where they kind of lost me with some of the striking and selling of said strikes, however.
The stretch run began in earnest with T-Hawk finally able to hit the tope he attempted to hit near the start of the match. That was a neat touch. The draw was called in the midst of a flurry of action. At one point in the final minute(s) they both end up on the mat rolling around, desperately trying to steal a pin which also came off well.
The issue with the match is that a lot of the offense and work making up the body of the match and the stretch run was just okay at best. They kind of lost me at a certain point with the striking (even if it did seemingly payoff) and T-Hawk’s offense down the stretch was not my thing. There were a lot of good elements but they didn’t quite seem to come together to form a truly memorable match. The basis for a very good match was certainly there, however.
The draw finish was seemingly to keep Mochizika strong for his title match four days later versus Yoshino without beating T-Hawk in the process. That match is getting some hype and this match was enjoyable enough that I am anxious to see how that one went.
* Officially Dragon Gate has the match listed as a 30-minute draw but unless there was a clip that I missed it was more in the 25-minute range.
Juniors | Watch It | Quality