NJPW: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Keiji Muto (January 4, 1998)

I want to try to review all the Wrestle Kingdom main events while they’re free on New Japan World.

The is the era of NWO Japan, which Muto is a member of, so there are NWO shirts at ringside. Kensuke is not the Power Warrior anymore, so his mullet is less “futuristic.”

It may be that I watched this match at a time when I wasn’t really in the mood for it, but I don’t think it gets interesting until it’s almost over. The bulk of it is really slow. Either both guys are sitting with legs entangled, hoping to get a leglock advantage, or they’re hitting each other with a move and then looking out at the crowd instead of following up. Maybe Muto was trying to play up his cockiness, but I wasn’t enthralled. The crowd wasn’t, either, until Sasaki pulled out one of those arm drags that almost dropped Muto on his head.

The crowd really starts caring once Muto dropkicks Sasaki’s leg as he’s running. With long pauses in between, Muto dropkicks and Dragon Screws Sasaki’s leg, then puts on the figure four. Sasaki pulls himself to the ropes, but Muto just puts it on again. Sasaki gets the ropes again. Muto does a rib breaker and a moonsault (the shortest time between moves), but Sasaki kicks out. A missile dropkick connects, but Sasaki counters a Frankensteiner into a super bomb, and now he’s finally fired up. Muto escapes a Northern Lights Bomb with a knee to the head, but Sasaki still recovers faster than him and hits him with two Northern Lights Bombs to get the pin.

Winner – Kensuke Sasaki

Rating – OK

I’m not interested in seeing this kind of match again.

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