Re: The 2012 MOTYC thread
Tajiri v Finlay, SMASH (2/19/12)
Really enjoyed this, and of the limited puro I've seen this year its comfortably #1 for me so far. Just a very well paced and built match, featuring some really intense matwork at the beginning which builds and builds and features some great struggles from both men to get into a dominant position, and they break up the matwork into Tajiri's kicks wonderfully and Finlay really makes sure to sell them as well as anyone I've seen. He just has this great panicked reaction where you can see him jump backwards from each kick and try to block the next one, and the spot where Tajiri finally picks a spot after a good 6/7 minutes of choice grappling and lands a few kicks to the thigh of Finlay, only for Finlay to instinctively counter into a drop toe hold and then RUB the thigh where the kicks landed whilst attempting a submission was just another smart touch that you expect from Finlay matches. Really thought the whole cautious and tentative nature with which they entered the grappling really added to whenever one would attempt a strike or signature move, you could feel the tension bubbling with each exchange ending in a stalemate and again enough good words can't be said about Finlay's selling of the kicks: whether he falls on his arse, tumbles out of the ring or just hobbles hopelessly away, you always sense the kicks are something he can't cope with and Tajiri only being able to land a few of them before Finlay finds a way to keep control really makes you eager for the moment where Tajiri can get sustained control and really hurt Finlay. Finlay was super with his taunts to the crowd and just general demeanour, and I loved him having a counter for Tajiri's offence, particularly the tarantula counter and subsequent headbutts, just ruthless and vicious and awesome all at once. Celtic Cross being thrown out mid match was a bit of a suprise, I gather the Tombstone has been his finisher in Japan, but it was still a little weird to see a move you associated as a match ender in WWE be tossed out mid match with little build: it did show Finlay wanted to end it there and then, but the way there wasn't much of a reaction to the kickout from the crowd or Finlay just further added to the confusion in it being executed there and then. Finishing stretch was wonderful in its simplicity, Tajiri finally gets momentum and uses the kicks again to hurt Finlay and the moment he finally reels off a buzzsaw kick to the head feels like a spot the crowd has been waiting for the entire match. I also really loved the struggle and tease of Tajiri being able to block the Tombstone for a second time...only for Finlay to finally catch him and end the match there and then.
Both men had some brilliant facial expressions, especially Tajiri whilst being worked over, and the whole aura of tension from each lockup to Finlay throwing sweat at Tajiri only for Tajiri to casually flick it onto the ropes with this great cold expression was glorious. Both men built superbly to the explosion of signature offence, Finlay added some amazing simplistic touches that no-one else will recreate this year (drop toe hold struggle for example) and overall it was just a really simple and nice match that focused on build and pacing towards the finish, and its a damn shame that I'll be lucky to see maybe 5 matches from Japan this year that will work a match similar to this. One of my favourite matches from Finlay's Indy/Japan tour.