Hideki Suzuki (c) vs Hideyoshi Kamitani
BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship
taped 05/25/2017, aired 06/06/2017
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 10/23/2017) Easily my favorite match from Hideki’s Strong title reign yet and, oddly, it’s with his opponent that I like the least. Most of that comes from a sort of focus and energy here that is sorely lacking from his other defenses. Partially learning from his trainers’ mistakes and partially just because that’s how he is, Kamitani rushes at Hideki right at the opening bell here, bowling him over, beating him down on the floor, shoving him shoulder-first into the corner post. Once they make their way back in the ring, Hideki’s only able to turn things around by taking advantage of an ill-placed headlock from Kamitani, using the leverage to hit his big side slam backbreaker. From there, Hideki goes to town with a few mean-looking holds, scrambling to stay on top as Kamitani struggles beneath him. In turn Kamitani finally finds his escape with a sleeper hold and that’s how the match unfolds for a while, trading control like until it “escalates” into more of a traditional back-and-forth bomb-throwing puro finishing stretch. That last part is the weakest part of the match, I think, because it’s what Hideki specifically is least skilled at, but there’s something here about the straight-forward nature of Kamitani’s bomb-throwing that makes it work out alright. Hideki begins to key in on Kamitani’s arm and shoulder, which mysteriously sprouts a small cut somewhere here in the back half of the match, trading between submission holds and suplexes that do damage to the limb, finally settling on his trademark butterfly suplex that he keeps a hold of, turning into a simple bridging butterfly lock that Kamitani has no answer for in the end. Not a blowaway match in the tradition of the high end Strong title matches of years past, but something that is head and shoulders above the Sekimoto and Okabayashi matches that came before it, as well as something I’d wholly recommend.