This evaluate got here as a request from considered one of our many loyal readers right here at TJRWrestling. It was advisable to me as a result of this specific reader considers it to be top-of-the-line matches ever.
However whereas it’d’ve had an important response on the time, it stays to be seen if it nonetheless holds up nicely over a decade later.
So with that, let’s revisit this massive indy traditional that reminded the entire world why Daniel Bryan was and is such an enormous identify in professional wrestling.
As a reminder, I’m reviewing 5 Star and almost-5 Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes again to the Eighties and I’m going to choose completely different matches from completely different eras to see how they appear as we speak. Take a look at earlier entries in my 5 Star Match Opinions collection proper right here.
This match passed off throughout that two-month window between Bryan’s second and third stints in WWE. After he was fired from WWE for choking Justin Roberts along with his personal tie, Bryan took indepndent reserving straight away. Given his fame, he was getting presents left and proper, together with from Dragon Gate USA. DGUSA was the American offshoot of the unique Japanese Dragon Gate promotion, which was itself the successor to Ultimo Dragón’s Toryumon promotion. It stood to the explanation that the corporate known as Dragon Gate would do no matter it took to have The American Dragon seem for them. And seem he did, at a present aptly titled ‘Enter the Dragon’.
However it wasn’t going to be a simple night time for Bryan. His opponent was Shingo Takagi, Dragon Gate’s first graduate and profitable homegrown star. Takagi wasn’t a high-flyer or a cruiserweight however he did transfer with that kind of pace. He specialised in hitting exhausting in brief bursts and threw a nasty lariat like he was a heavyweight. However he greater than had it arms full on condition that Bryan was extra skilled and was a grasp in ripping his opponents aside with submission holds.
With all of that, it was anybody’s guess who’d win this match. Would it not be Shingo along with his pace and energy, or Bryan along with his method and expertise?
This match initially passed off on July 24th, 2010. It was by no means given a proper score by Dave Meltzer, however many followers – together with the one which despatched it to me – have praised it as top-of-the-line matches in each wrestlers’ careers. And contemplating the breadth of matches that encompasses, that’s extremely excessive reward. Let’s see if it’s well-earned.
The group chants “you’re gonna get your f**king head kicked in” because the bell rings. Bryan presents a handshake however Shingo smacks it apart. They get right into a shoving match after which lock-up and Bryan overpowers Shingo. Shingo tries countering with a chop however Bryan dodges and lands a European uppercut. A ‘yay/boo’ elbow trade happens and guess who the followers are cheering. Shingo hits a couple of extra elbows and costs for an particularly highly effective one. Bryan geese and goes for a Misawa rolling elbow. Shingo blocks and tries an Exploder suplex. Bryan escapes and teases a Tiger suplex however Shingo reaches the ropes. Shingo bails to the ground because the followers chant for Bryan.
Shingo returns to the ring sheepishly after which they to the Greco-Roman knuckle lock. Bryan does the Akiyama roll-through counter to reverse the stress onto Shingo and Shingo tries and fails to achieve the ropes along with his foot. Bryan switches to an arm wringer after which to a wristlock. Shingo counters right into a headlock and when Bryan shoots him off the ropes Shingo shoulder tackles him down. Then Shingo takes Bryan down by his wrist however Bryan does a pleasant counter right into a dropkick. Shingo goes for a single-leg takedown however Bryan counters and wrestles Shingo into considered one of his trademark torturous submission holds.
That maintain turns right into a pin for a one-count and Bryan applies one other punishing arm maintain. Bryan tries to lock-up once more however Shingo hits chops (along with his unhealthy hand) and Bryan hits again with uppercuts after which kicks to the unhealthy arm. Bryan follows with an over-the-shoulder armbreaker and covers for a one-count. Then Bryan switches issues up and begins focusing on Shingo’s legs with a Romero stretch right into a chinlock after which right into a dragon sleeper. Shingo escapes so Bryan goes again to the arm with extra shoulder armbreakers, however this time to Shingo’s left arm/ then Bryan lands his Danielson particular butterfly suplex right into a cross armbreaker. Shingo shortly rolls to the ropes for a break. Shingo blocks a vertical suplex and keels over by the ropes, his arms nonetheless inflicting him immense ache. Bryan kicks Shingo’s left arm and goes for an Irish whip. Shingo reverses it and goes for a again physique drop. Bryan counters with a sundown flip. Shingo breaks Bryan’s grasp and goes for his personal counter however Shingo counters the counter with a small package deal and – wait, no, Shingo powers Bryan up with a deadlift vertical suplex. Bryan bails to ringside however Shingo chases him and whips him into the metal barricade. A second assembly with the barricade causes numerous injury to Bryan’s proper arm, so now each guys are working with weakened arms. Regardless of that, an uppercut/chop trade ensues with each guys putting with weakened limbs. Then Shingo trapes Bryan in a head vice subsequent to the ringpost after which stands on his chest as soon as again within the ring. The followers chant for Bryan as Shingo stomps on Bryan’s chest after which foot chokes him. He follows with a snapmare/fist drop/chinlock combo after which lands a kneedrop with a mocking cowl for a one-count. Each guys’ arms seem to have recovered as they hit one another exhausting till Shingo drops Bryan right into a nook with Mongolian chops. Shingo chokes Bryan in a nook after which performs to the group figuring out Bryan’s helpless. He follows with a kneelift in opposition to the ropes, a fireman’s carry gutbuster, a DDT, and a standing senton all of which will get a two-count. Then Shingo applies a bodyscissor and tries rolling over right into a pin however Bryan counters with a modified Romero stretch out of nowhere.
Shingo hits an ax deal with to take care of management after which dares Bryan to hit him. Bryan obliges and hits two nasty uppercuts however Shingo fights via the ache. Shingo hits again with one other ax deal with after which goes for a Backdrop suplex. Bryan resists so Shingo tries a German suplex as an alternative. He will get Bryan up…however Bryan lands on his ft and hits a working knee strike to the top.
Bryan hits some nook strikes adopted by a working nook forearm. Shingo reverses a nook whip however Bryan flips over him to keep away from a cost. Then Bryan geese a clothesline and hits considered one of his personal. Bryan follows with a basement dropkick that sends Shingo over the barricade and into some followers’ laps. Then Bryan springboards and dives over the barricade onto Shingo and into the followers.
Bryan tosses Shingo again into the ring and hits a diving shotgun dropkick after which kips up. He follows with a working roundhouse kick and covers however solely will get a one-count. Bryan goes for Cattle Mutilation however Shingo resists with all his may. Bryan sees this isn’t getting him anyplace, so he switches to a German try. However Shingo blocks that too, and wen Bryan resists a German from Shingo, Shingo lariats the again of Bryan’s head and hits a Backdrop suplex.
Shingo tries one other Backdrop however Bryan will get to the ropes first so Shingo chops his neck. Shingo goes for an Irish whip, Bryan reverses, after which Shingo reverses once more and hits a second Backdrop. Superior sequence. The referee counts one…two…thr – no, Bryan kicks out. Shingo costs in the direction of a nook however Bryan boots him first and hits so exhausting Shingo’s spit goes flying. Bryan costs…and runs right into a swinging powerslam for a two-count. Shingo switches to a head vice after which a full Anaconda Vice. Bryan struggles however will get a ropebreak along with his foot.
Shingo tries varied neck-targeting holds however he’s too near the ropes every time so the referee makes him let go. He chops Bryan’s neck after which winds up for an enormous working nook strike. However Bryan sidesteps first. Then Bryan costs…however Shingo catches him and lands an Exploder suplex. Shingo goes for a lariat. Bryan geese and goes for an O’Connor roll. Shingo escapes and counters an elbow with a reverse STO facebuster. Then Shingo places Bryan within the Torture Rack. He tosses Bryan off…however Bryan lands on his ft and spinkicks Shingo’s head. Each wrestlers collapse.
Bryan will get up first and hits a mixture of chest kicks and elbows to Shingo’s head. He costs to the ropes and runs right into a pop-up Loss of life Valley Driver. Shingo follows with a nook lariat and goes for a superplex. However Bryan escapes and hits a basement dropkick whereas Shingo’s tied within the tree of woe. Bryan follows with a top-rope Backdrop suplex and crawls over for the pin. One, two, Shingo kicks out. Bryan traps Shingo’s arms and stomps on his face and collar after which rolls right into a triangle choke. Shingo begins fading. His arm sinks down as soon as…twice…thr – no, Shingo’s nonetheless on this. Shingo deadlifts Bryan up and goes for one more DVD. Bryan counters with a crucifix pin for a two-count. Then Bryan hits stiff elbows to Shingo’s collar and tries one other crucifix pin. He solely will get a one-count as Shingo rolls over however Bryan continues hammering him with elbows. Shingo tanks them like a boss and lifts Bryan onto his shoulders. Then Shingo traps Bryan’s arm and hits a diving Loss of life Valley Driver. Shingo covers…and will get a 2.8-count.
Each guys rise up slowly and begin head-butting one another from their arms and knees. Then they change to stiff open-handed slaps after which Shingo teases his Made in Japan finisher. Bryan resists so Shingo lands a kneelift as an alternative. Shingo costs for his Pumping bomber lariat. Bryan blocks it. Shingo twists round and hits a discus lariat. Bryan absorbs it like a champ. Shingo hits a fast elbow and costs. Bryan goes for one more elbow smash. Shingo counters along with his MiJ finisher. one, two, and – no, Bryan kicks out. Pumping Bomber connects! One…two…and thr – NO, Bryan survives once more. The followers are giving these guys a standing ovation.
Shingo teases the tip as he hits a lightning-fast one-two elbow combo. He goes for one more MiJ however Bryan escapes and lands a small package deal cowl for a two-count. Then Bryan pulls Shingo down and locks in his Cattle Mutilation submission maintain. Shingo rolls over onto his abdomen so Bryan lands a bridging Tiger suplex. One, two, Shingo survives. Bryan hits extra collar elbows and tries rolling again into Cattle Mutilation. Shingo resists and floats over right into a pinning place for a two-count. Bryan kicks Shingo’s arm and lands a bridging Regal-plex for a two-count. That’s adopted by one other triangle choke. Shingo deadlifts Bryan once more however this time Bryan elbows the highest of Shingo’s head. Shingo sinks down and Bryan switches to a crossface. Shingo faucets out! Bryan beats Shingo!
Winner after 29:15: Bryan Danielson
I’m so glad that I’ve readers giving me match suggestions. This was great. It’s very a lot a hidden gem that’s up there as considered one of each Bryan’s and Shingo’s finest matches. It had all of the hallmarks of a top-tier Bryan Danielson match: technical wrestling, psychology, nice counters, hard-hitting strikes and strong pressure that lasted from bell to bell. The truth that Bryan might simply come into DGUSA for a one-off match like this and pull off such an important match in opposition to somebody he had by no means wrestled earlier than spoke volumes of his expertise. This match would’ve been up there as top-of-the-line matches of the last decade…had Shingo bothered to promote correctly.
One factor I don’t like about these matches is the lapse in logic so many wrestlers have on the subject of hitting with their proper arms. In most of those indy matches – and in most Bryan Danielson matches, for that matter – the fitting arm is the one which will get focused probably the most. It is smart, in any case; most wrestlers hit with their proper hand and arm. However why oh why do those self same wrestlers reply to getting their proper arms labored over by hitting again with that very same limb? You may have a superbly wholesome left arm, what’s improper with utilizing that to strike? You’ll be able to name it preventing spirit or different token ‘toughness’ arguments, however I’m not shopping for it. One of the best matches have hermetic psychology; in the event you’re going to strike with that very same arm, at the very least delay doing so till the viewers believes that your opponent has really broken it. In case you’re locked in such a brutal maintain, don’t undersell it straight away. Shingo did promote kind of nicely; he needed to maintain again between his chops with the unhealthy hand. However widespread sense ought to reign supreme right here; Shingo would’ve executed a greater job of promoting Bryan’s submission holds and would’ve advised a greater story by switching to his more healthy arm. Shingo additionally would’ve averted doing extra injury to himself; by attacking with a weakened limb he mainly did the professional wrestling equal of pouring salt on an open wound.
Issues obtained a bit “cleaner” as soon as Bryan attacked each of Shingo’s arms, however throughout that early window when he had one weak arm and one wholesome arm it could’ve made for extra hermetic (and due to this fact higher) storytelling for him to modify to his good arm instantly as an alternative of weakening himself.
I’ve seen this earlier than in somanymassiveBryanmatches: he works over the arm and his opponent sells that arm for a couple of minutes after which it’s ignored altogether in the direction of the tip. It finally ends up taking part in little to no position within the end, which turns that armwork into wasted time. Bryan has such a profitable system but for no matter purpose so a lot of his opponents cease promoting early and ‘make their comeback’ on the expense of his submission work. When that kind of sample emerges, it makes one marvel if Bryan is de facto that good of a submission professional within the first place. How can Bryan name himself such a harmful submission professional if that’s the case many individuals come again from Bryan’s focused and visceral limbwork so quickly after it’s executed? Positive he faucets them out on the finish, but when everybody fights again from his earlier holds with out wanting worse for put on then these submissions don’t matter; solely the ending ones do. It isn’t good to waste followers’ occasions by fooling them into investing time and a spotlight into stuff that doesn’t result in something; all that does is bloat a match size and make it seem like the wrestlers misplaced their very own plot with one thing so bold.
However other than that one massive subject, this match was nonetheless glorious. Shingo introduced his A-game right here and tried hitting exhausting in what few home windows of management he obtained. Whereas Bryan focused completely different limbs, Shingo attacked Bryan’s neck and torso. Each guys stayed true to their methods and constructed on them relatively nicely because the match progressed. By the tip it actually turned anybody’s guess who’d win. And after Bryan’s massive dive the match reached the next stage. Regardless of all of the injury and wear-and-tear, Bryan and Shingo simply went to struggle on one another. They threw bombs, hit exhausting, and stored arising with intelligent counters for one another. Stuff that labored as soon as earlier within the match was blocked or countered when tried a second time. They each wrestled well after they might, which should’ve been exhausting given how a lot injury they each endured. The ultimate 5 minutes had been particularly enjoyable with a lot tense motion and plausible near-falls and submission holds.
In a method, this match was like a contemporary (2012-onwards) New Japan main-event involving somebody like Tanahashi, Okada, or Naito. This match had that slower and cautious begin blended with a nail-biting crescendo of a end. And this was earlier than New Japan rebounded utterly from their 2000s doldrums. However a key distinction right here is that this match kind of retains the identical tempo from begin to end whereas a contemporary New Japan fundamental occasion will get faster in the direction of the tip. This match does come throughout as a bit slower by comparability, however the motion and story is specified by a extra balanced method with out to many pointless excessive peaks and low valleys.
Closing Score: ****3/4
With slightly extra centered psychology and higher promoting, this match could be among the many high three matches of Bryan’s and Shingo’s careers. It was actually enjoyable due to nice motion and a scorching crowd. Bryan wrestled like a mixture between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit solely smaller and Shingo was mainly a smaller and faster model of Kenta Kobashi, albeit a bit worse at promoting long-term.
That is a type of matches that makes you are feeling such as you obtained your cash’s value. This was the one time Bryan and Shingo ever fought one-on-one however they wrestled as in the event that they’d fought numerous occasions earlier than. If that doesn’t let you know how gifted and value watching each of them had been right here (and nonetheless at the moment are), I don’t know what does.
Thanks for studying. You’ll be able to electronic mail me with any questions or feedback, and be sure you try my 5-Star and Nearly 5-Star Match Opinions collection right here.