HARASHIMA (c) vs Kota Ibushi
KO-D Openweight Championship
Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Before the match, a pretty solid video package plays featuring Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, which is just classic DDT. God, I soooooo much prefer Ibushi’s DDT theme to his NJPW theme. HARASHIMA looks like money during his entrance. This match feels huge, and you can tell from the first moments, with both men circling the ring, feeling each other out while the crowd is dead silent. They continue to jockey for position, grappling around on the mat, with HARASHIMA having the upper hand for most of the exchange. With a big effort, Ibushi muscles HARASHIMA up and over the ropes to the apron, and Ibushi uses this separation to beat down on HARASHIMA before tossing him back inside and slapping on a rough chinlock. Ibushi throws a kick and HARASHIMA catches it, dropping the Golden Star down across his knee and hitting a series of mean standing double stomps, targeting his torso. When Ibushi angrily tries to mount a comeback, HARASHIMA simply slaps his midsection again to put him down. A rope run spot sees Ibushi again get a bit of forward momentum, but is sent crashing to the mat with a flying kick to the torso from the champ. HARASHIMA locks in an abdominal stretch, a favorite of mine, and lays in a few potatoes to Ibushi’s ribs before he’s able to get to the ropes. After a rough yakuza kick, HARASHIMA puts Ibushi on the top, coming down with a superplex before floating over with a double kneedrop to the torso while going for the pin, which gets a two count. Ibushi floats over a suplex attempt and goes for a German himself, and responds with a rana that sends the champ outside when he elbows his way out and bounces off the ropes. Ibushi goes for his patented moonsault off the turnbuckle to the outside, but HARASHIMA sees it coming and stops him with a few clubbing blows to the back. They trade forearms on the outside, with Ibushi hardly selling, and eventually he just walks off and up onto the stage. HARASHIMA follows him, taking the opposite set of stairs, and both men rush at each other and collide in the middle of the stage with lariats that send Ibushi down and HARASAHIMA staggering. The champ runs a few yards out and comes charging back in at Ibushi, who hits a handspring Pele kick to cut him off. Ibushi climbs up one section of the stage, about ten feet up, and hits a moonsault off of it onto HARASHIMA, and both men stumble back down to the ring. Back inside, Ibushi sends the champ down with a pair of kicks and hits a moonsault double kneedrop for two. HARASHIMA fights free of a dragon suplex attempt and sends Ibushi back on his head with a dropkick, and he tries to follow it up by charging in at Ibushi seated in the corner, but the challenger leaps to his feet and double stomps HARASHIMA on the way down. A pair of chest kicks sends HARASHIMA reeling, but he catches the third, lays in some rights to Ibushi’s midsection, and puts him down with a dragon screw. He sends Ibushi into the corner with a Somato and brings him crashing down with a poisonrana off the second rope, and hits another Somato for a nearfall. HARASHIMA brings Ibushi up for some sort of a driver, but Ibushi wriggles free and hits a Somato of his own for only a one count, and HARASIMA is fuming afterward. He lays in a few forearms to the challenger and receives a clothesline for his troubles when he comes off the ropes. A big Last Ride gets Ibushi a nearfall and nothing more, and he goes up for a Phoenix Splash. HARASHIMA rolls out of the way of it, sending Ibushi crashing face-first into the mat, and buries a Somato in the back of Ibushi’s head. Both men struggle to their feet slowly and trade forearms back and forth. HARASHIMA gets the momentary advantage with a pair of vicious kicks to the face, but Ibushi gets right back up and they begin trading slaps. Ibushi avoids a hard right from HARASHIMA, plants a knee in his chest, and floors him with a big short-arm lariat. He brings the champ up for the Phoenix-Plex, but HARASHIMA headbutts his way out and drops Ibushi right on his head with a gutwrench driver for two. HARASHIMA buries a few stiff kicks into Ibushi’s skull and goes for the springboard Somato, but Ibushi cuts him off and grabs him in the Phoenix-Plex for the win. Not a bad match by any means, but a big, silly spotfest with all the shortcomings these two normally bring to the table. It feels pretty big and mostly delivers, and more often than not is quite enjoyable to watch. In many ways, this feels like a better put-together Nakamura vs Ibushi from WK9, but that match outdoes this one in certain aspects and is pretty handily the better of the two. Still, if you liked that bout at all, you’re bound to like this one.