Jimmy Kagetora vs Takehiro Yamamura
King of Gate 2017 Block C Match
taped 05/28/2017, aired 06/12/2017
Susukino Mars Gym, Sapporo, Japan
(reviewed 9/24/2017) Another one of the slower-moving Yamamura singles matches and one that, oddly, feels quite a bit different from all the others. On top of taking a deliberate approach to this match, these two open with the perfunctory chaining and grappling of a 30, 40 minute main event singles title match. That’s followed by some aggressive stomping and kicking from Yamamura, stuff that’s well within his wheelhouse, but here he feels more like a Shibata or a Nakamura than himself. Those two are great but seeing Yamamura briefly lose his own personality and oddly dominate this match against a capable veteran through slow striking is bizarre. Things pick up as Kagetora gains control and goes after Yamamura’s leg, which gives the young man something to sell for and something to rally against, playing to Yamamura’s strengths. By the end, as these two are scrambling to stay alive and score their own pinfall as time dwindles away into a draw, they reach a pretty enjoyable level that makes me describe this as a good match, but the beginning and middle portions give me pause. It almost feels like I was watching 2022 Yamamura all of a sudden, this guy who was an established top level guy who no longer had to scratch and claw to stay ahead of midcard veterans, this guy who was brash and more than a little mean. That’s sort of where I want Yamamura to end up, of course, where I want to see him in five years, but to see that person all of a sudden without seeing the actual growth or development feels hollow and unrealistic, a sham of a good thing. It’d be like gazing into a crystal ball in early 1996 and seeing what Stone Cold Steve Austin would become in 2001 but without seeing the King of the Ring tournament or the I Quit match with Bret or the McMahon feud or the matches with The Rock. It looks nice but it doesn’t vibe with what you’re seeing now, what you’ve been seeing this whole time, so it’s not altogether compelling even if it is sort of exciting. You haven’t seen what’s brought Austin to this point in 2001 so you don’t actually know who he is, and that’s not interesting, I think. I like to see struggle. I like to see failures pile up again and again and again until that one sweet, sweet victory that turns the tide into a deluge of victories. Yamamura’s matches in 2017 have given me a lot of that sort of thing, but this one didn’t give me as much as I’d like.