by Daniel Johnson
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yuji Nagata
The following is a description of perhaps the most baffling non-comedy puro matches I have ever seen. It starts out normally enough with Masakatsu Funaki firing off a kick and Yuji Nagata responding in kind. The two then fight into the ropes and are back to some more kicking when the bout suddenly turns into a bastard offspring of wrestling and MMA.
Nagata gets Funaki in a ground and pound position, but Funaki wiggles out of it. There is a ton of mat wrestling as the two work over each others arms, and legs. Right after this Funaki asks for a time out to take off his boot and then tie it back up and the referee allows it! Unsurprisingly, this reserved Japanese crowd boos the event loudly. Nagata finally hits a move that one would expect to see in a pro wrestling match by delivering a belly-to-back suplex which the crowd pops for. Nagata then unsuccessfully tries to lock on a crossface and then hits a northern lights suplex. Funaki gets Nagata down and tries to get him in a Fujiwara armbar, but almost ends up in one himself.
The two end this performance by shooting kicks at one another until Funaki lands a knockout blow. Yet, Funaki is not finished and caps off the match with his hammerlock tombstone piledriver finisher for good measure.
The crowd actually gets pretty wild at the end of this one, but Funaki and Nagata are capable of so much more than a faux MMA bout. As I’ve pointed out before AJPW learned nothing from when NJPW similarly tried to emulate MMA in the early 2000s leading to arguably the darkest era in that company’s history. Then again NJPW may just have Katsuyori Shibata win this year’s G1 Climax tomorrow so NJPW has hardly learned from it’s own mistakes either.
Categories: Wrestling Clips