365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Of the thousands upon thousands who have stepped into a wrestling ring, a select few stand out for their ability to perform one element of the art better than the rest.
Arn Anderson and his spinebuster.
Randy Savage and his flying elbow.
Or, in the case of today’s entry, Masato Yoshino and running the ropes. With Yoshino, something you’ve seen thousands of times before — a wrestler running the ropes — transcends into an attraction.
Let’s dig a little deeper with today’s match, as Yoshino takes on Don Fujii from this Dragon Gate bout on January 18, 2011.
You can watch this match at this link.
If you like fast-paced, high-flying wrestling, you owe it to yourself to give Dragon Gate a look. This promotion takes the same style as Impact Wrestling‘s X Division or New Japan’s junior heavyweights and dials up the tempo.
Dragon Gate’s alumni include CIMA, Akira Tozawa, Shingo Takagi and many foreign talent who came in for tours and have gone on to stardom on the mainstream wrestling scene: Kevin Owens, Ricochet, PAC, Jack Evans, Rich Swann and many more.
Here we have Yoshino defending the Open the Dream Gate Title, the top singles championship in the promotion. He’s been champion for about six months, and this is his fourth defense. His opponent, Fujii, brings more of a ground-based style than many of his cohorts and so there’s a bit of a stylistic conflict that produces the central story of the match.
I saw Yoshino in action at three ROH shows during WrestleMania weekend in 2006, and I’ve yet to see another wrestler to match his speed in the ring.
When Yoshino first goes into the ropes, Fujii gives him multiple passes, allowing the speed to build. It might seem cooperative in another environment but here, it’s more about Fujii trying to anticipate whatever move is to come. Sometimes the challenger succeeds and counters; sometimes he fails.
When Fujii does try to go to the top rope, it backfires. He connects on a huracanrana but lands on his head in the process. Fujii remains addled for the rest of the match, fighting off some of Yoshino’s signature offense — such as a straight jacket triangle choke he calls Sol Naciente — and turns the tide after winning a fracas with both perched on the top turnbuckle to deliver an avalanche chokeslam.
A few tantalizing false finishes follow, with one of them so close I honestly don’t want to spoil it for you. The match ends with both men frantically trying to pin the other, before a mistake leads to the final three count.
Final Rating: 6.4
This is a good, solid match that definitely is worth watching. There’s very little filler or stalling and plenty of action. My greatest critique is that I think the Dragon Gate style translates more to multi-man tags (which will be coming later in the project), but this is still a fine capture of the talents of both wrestlers, especially if they are new to you.
A gem of a tag match from a Royal Rumble of old.