Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata
February 11, 2016
Eidon Arena in Osaka, Japan
NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka
NEVER Openweight Championship
As brutal and intense as their Tokyo Dome match was a month earlier, this actually surpassed it by a hair. These two have the most dramatic chemistry, although their feud is destined to shorten their careers. While they don’t deliver any crazy high spots, they do give you sick, stiff shots all over the body and an intensity that needs to be seen to be believed.
You can knock the blatant lack of selling, but that did play a part in the match as it made sense and garnered tons of heat. Contrast that to the lack of selling cruiserweights do, which usually builds to nothing except the next high spot that means little but looks cool. Shibata and Ishii have made an art out of no-selling that would make Road Warrior Hawk proud.
Still, the hard headbutts are inexcusable, although this time they at least did some headbutts to the chest, which aren’t as dangerous as the full-on head conking with the other head (although there was that here, too). The bitch slaps they gave each other were not pulled at all, and about as real as it gets. After not selling several spots earlier, Ishii did this world class sell job after the match that only intensified the finish. I hated this match for its brutality and destruction of their bodies, but at the same time, I loved it better than most matches on the list. I could watch these two wrestle forever… or for as long as their bodies hold up.