Minoru Suzuki vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
January 27, 2018
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center in Sapporo, Japan
NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo (Day 1)
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Terrific display of how to have a ****+ match without doing crazy high spots, and telling a story and making each move mean something. Minoru Suzuki is obviously too old to pull off what the younger guys can, and Hiroshi Tanahashi is so banged up that he’s cut down on them as well. The result was elite level psychology and selling, and the crowd ate it all up.
Suzuki put on a career performance, doing the crazy, evil, dangerous guy gimmick better than almost anyone today. Tanahashi was babyface Bret Hart here, selling the knee and doing long submission spots realistically. When Tanahashi passed out from the kneebar, the bell rang and the crowd went silent. Numerous (hot) Japanese women were very distraught, and Tanahashi did a stretcher job that didn’t look silly in the least. Home run on every level.