Masaaki Mochizuki vs Big R Shimizu
Number One Contender’s Match
taped 09/05/2017, aired 09/15/2017
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 09/16/2017) Big R, fired up at the idea of getting his first shot at the Dream Gate title, bursts into the ring and shoves Mochizuki over as he steps through the ropes. Mochizuki, not one to let that shit slide, blasts him with a flying dropkick to kick the match off and things don’t really let up from there. The veteran puts some money in the bank by going after Big R’s right arm, looking to mitigate his big kill move, the Shotput Slam, something that Mochizuki has fallen to before if I’m not mistaken. Throughout this, Mochizuki likewise continues to punish his young opponent with some vicious strikes. In return Big R sticks to his only real recourse, his superior size and strength, doing what he can with a bum arm and uncharacteristically throwing a few kicks with his big, meaty tree trunk legs as well. This results in a match in which these two are just beating the shit out of each other and BOY HOWDY IS THAT GREAT. They’re killing each other here. Mochizuki hits maybe the single best slap in wrestling history and a bevy of his great, thudding kicks. Big R puts his all into his strikes in return and flattens Mochizuki with some standing splashes that look like they’re grinding the veteran to dust. It’s all so much grittier and more gruesome than most everything DG does, with these two taking wild shots at each other, grasping at each other’s tights when they wind up for moves, doing everything they can to survive. It’s also way… wilder, I suppose is how I’d phrase it. One of the big complaints about DG is how choreographed and fake-looking everything is, which I totally get and agree with more often than not. But here, these two are taking rough bumps from things like sidewalk slams and shoulder blocks and their strikes are less calculated than they otherwise would be and it’s great. In another match that might feel bad but here it adds to this frantic atmosphere as a guy who’s never had a singles title shot battles a guy who might only have one singles title shot left in his career. Down the stretch Big R starts bleeding a bit from the nose and it only adds to that feeling. When it’s clear that Mochizuki, often referred to as the Iron Man of Dragon Gate, can do this all night if he has to, Big R switches gears and tries going for his Shotput Slam, but his battered arm makes it impossible to hit it fast enough before Mochizuki reverses it or slips free, leading him to hit a desperation off-handed Shotput Slam with his left arm in a delightful moment. It’s not nearly as effective and once that fails, Big R can only try to overwhelm the veteran with what power moves he has left, which allows Mochizuki to go back to the arm and nearly put him away with a cross armbreaker. When they’re back on their feet, Mochizuki connects with a Shin Saikyou High Kick that hits Big R right in the side of the jaw and knocks him on his ass. He’s not out, immediately trying to scramble back up to his feet, but he’s clearly knocked for a loop and just running on fumes here, swinging wildly with a clothesline that sends Mochizuki head over heels as he dashes off the ropes. With one last chance Big R goes back to the Shotput Slam but his inability to adapt costs him; Mochizuki reverses the momentum into a rolling armbar that he turns into a seated Fujiwara. He wrenches back and back and back to the point that I’m certain Big R’s arm is broken and I’m screaming for the young man to give up, with Mochizuki nearly falling over with how hard he’s yanking on the arm. With nothing left, Big R taps.
A tremendous match. It strikes me as a smaller version of the Shingo/Mochizuki classic from November of 2015, this time with the old man coming out on top in the face of this unstoppable youngster. Korakuen is on fire the whole time and people are actively screeching by the end, begging Big R to tap. When Mochizuki hit his aforementioned slap, I had to scream into my hands it was so sudden and impactful. Not many matches can do that to me. I like to take note of the ones that do. You should take note of this match too.