KENTA vs Takashi Sugiura - NOAH 12.05.13 - ****
This was a war. These man dished out a total battering to each other, and boy were they stiff. To be honest, in the middle portion of the match it was headed into epic territory but the overkill in the closing minutes turned me off a bit. I also probably would have gone higher had Kenta sold better, as on numerous occasions he just shrugged off some of Sugsy's biggest offense. Also, am I right in thinking it's always taken 3 GTSs to put Sugiura away in the past? In that sense, I like the continuity displayed here but it really kills the GTS as a finisher. This displeases me.
Aside from all that, I can't criticise the match any further. We saw some brutal stuff, like Kenta's double stomp from the top rope all the way to the floor, and Sugiura counters a spear attempt with one of the sickest knees I've seen in recent memory. Not sure if they slightly mistimed it or if he just didn't care about twatting Kenta in the face, but my God it looked SO nasty.
I also adored all the submission work they did. Sugs does an awesome sequence, starting with a dragon screw and gracefully transitioning into the ankle lock. Yep, gracefully! It's a thing of beauty. They traded submissions well, and I also liked the scrappy nature of Kenta reeling off little fists and punches as Sugiura tries to lock in the ankle lock later on, which Kenta desperately tries to avoid as he's already been in the hold for a while prior to that and needs to escape before more damage is done.
As you'd expect, there are plenty of strike exchanges, possibly a few too many and a little too prolonged, but they pepper each other with some hard blows and I was wincing on quite a few occasions.
Take away those flaws I pointed out, this would have been a bonafide classic. As it is, it's certainly one of the better NOAH matches I've seen this year and a low-end MOTYC with some really neat parts to it. Definitely worth checking out the middle 15 minutes if nothing else.