Tetsuya Naito defeated Minoru Suzuki in the main event of New Japan’s Wrestling Hi No Kuni event on Sunday in Kumamoto.
The main event lasted 30 minutes and 23 seconds, and I never the felt the match hit a dramatic peak point.
Suzuki beat down Naito throughout the match with an early focus on the arm and then targeting the right knee for the majority.
This included long sequences of selling by Naito, including from the various kneebars applied by Suzuki. The audience was pro-Naito and did not seem to believe he would submit at any point.
In getting submissions over, they need to be established as tools that immediately end a match, lending on the credibility of the authentic hold in a real fight scenario. In professional wrestling, you have the desire to take away from the authenticity of a submission in favor of added drama to the match with heavy selling. In time, the credibility of the submission dissipates, and I felt that during this match.
Naito made a brief comeback at the end, countered a rear-naked choke to hit a brainbuster and followed with one Destino to pin Suzuki.
It was not a surprise that Naito won but he won at that stage of the match. As the main event, I didn’t feel this reached the level of any big New Japan matches this year.
The length of the match is also a factor as New Japan has conditioned the viewer to expect no less than 30 minutes for big main events. That is fine for major IWGP title matches but when it’s the expectation every time out, it wears on the audience.