Match of the Week Club Deep Cut: HARASHIMA vs. Shuji Ishikawa (DDT Osaka Octopus 12/4/16)

Every week on Place to Be Nation, a combination of correspondents review one match from the outer regions of the conventional wrestling bubble. This is a deep cut of sorts that should be of interest to the hardcore wrestling fans hoping to consume content for every region in the professional wrestling world.

The entire Osaka Octopus show is available on the RealHero Archive.

The Storyline:

Since winning the championship at DDT’s biggest show, Peter Pan, Ishikawa has successfully defended the belt against a bevy of challengers including young boy Higuchi. This was HARASHIMA’s first challenge in the Ishikawa reign.

Timothy Buechner:

Shuji has been on the warpath for the past few months as the hardest working monster in Japanese wrestling and with most of the important or worth while indies in Japan working together than means I have been seeing him everywhere. The BJW strong climb win was when I felt he started to really break out of the pack from where he has had great matches in AJPW and then seemed to put the final touches on what’s been a career year in DDT as the KO-D Openweight champion as the muscle of Damnation. HARASHIMA is the ace of DDT with both Omega and Ibushi being gone from being mainstays within the promotion.

This was all about Shuji doing what he has been doing best this year being a dominate monster. HARASHIMA selling and coming back has the entire crowd behind him in. Shuji as the monster than can do it all strike, grapple, and even fly seems unbeatable. The biggest spot of the match is clearly Shuji taking a flawless poisoned-rana. Shuji starts to show weakness after this even as he is destroying HARASHIMA. He tries to take a count out win showing he may just be at his wits end. HARASHIMA shows so much heart he cannot be denied even when obviously  over matched, he is able to always kick out and keep pushing forward. This is an effective use of fighting spirit in the selling HARASHIMA personifies. HARASHIMA comes back with the face of a wild man to set up a springboard meteora to get the big win that feels like the biggest of his career in the moment even if it is not.  ***3/4

Chad Campbell:

With Ibushi only used sparingly by DDT these days and Omega main eventing Wrestle Kingdom, DDT is at a crossroads in a sense of not having that one identifiable ace. HARASHIMA is certainly the closest to come to that monikor and with the release of DDT Universe in the upcoming year, this was the natural move of putting the biggest championship on the face of the promotion heading into a big endeavour. That is sound booking but a shame for Ishikawa who has been tearing it up for multiple promotions in Japan in 2016.

I loved the diversity of the match that was displayed here. HARASHIMA had to utilize his speed and quick spurts of offense to combat the power and shear force that Ishikawa personifies. There were multiple instances throughout the match of Ishikawa taking over and swatting HARASHIMA down like a fly out of mid air. This really showed how big of a monster Ishikawa could be. In addition, HARASHIMA was able to show his resourcefulness by avoiding the monster back suplex that won Ishikawa the KO-D championship in the first place. The ending felt justified as HARASHIMA had survived the onslaught and Ishikawa was winded from the battle. A sufficient flurry of offense allowed HARASHIMA to secure the victory and lead DDT into the newest stage of their business development. ****