Naomichi Marufuji vs Takaku Fuke
taped 08/14/2017, aired 08/24/2017
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 08/28/2017) Wanted to give this the benefit of the doubt, because I’m not a fan of Marufuji at all and while I’ve enjoyed Fuke’s stuff, he’s certainly not the same at 48 as, say, Fujiwara was at 48 or Suzuki is at 48. Sadly, I just couldn’t get too into this match until the finishing stretch, which is real good. They spend most of the match grappling around, fairly entertaining and competent stuff, but sort of soulless compared to previous matches on this card. Towards the end things get more desperate for Marufuji, who can feel the match slipping between his fingers as Fuke whittles him down to a single point, and as Fuke starts rushing him in the corner with strikes, Marufuji catches him with a bicycle knee for the KO finish. Nice finishing stretch but a whole lot of stuff beforehand that I wasn’t nearly so high on.