Tomohiro Ishii (C) vs Katsuyori Shibata
NEVER OpenWeight Championship
Wrestle Kingdom 10
January 4th 2016 in Tokyo Dome
2 men that are seemingly incapable of having a bad match. The Stone Pibtull vs The Wrestler. Strong style, brutal, hard-hitting action for 17 straight minutes. To put it bluntly, Ishii and Shibata beat the crap out of each other. From the second the match begins, these 2 warriors charge and don’t stop until the match finishes. I find myself watching an Ishii vs Shibata match when I need reminding why I love wrestling and NJPW specifically.
This match showcased the stiffness that is associated with puroresu and NJPW. Both competitors were unwilling to relent and were determined to prove they were the tougher bastard, openly letting each other take nasty shots without showing any signs of weakness; both too stubborn and full of pride. I would recommend this match to the most hardcore of wrestling fans and to those who still think wrestling is “fake.” This is a match that can make the most cynical of people think twice about what wrestling is and can be.
Shibata went into this one hoping to claim his first singles title in New Japan against one of the most resilient on the roster in Ishii. On a card that included AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Okada vs Tanahashi, I finished the show enamored by the ferocity that was Shibata and Ishii.
Luckily, both men have met a number of times outside of this encounter. If you want to jump further into the rabbit hole be sure to check out their tournament match during G1 Climax 23 that earned the coveted 5 stars.
The only downside of watching this is that Shibata is unfortunately never likely to wrestle again due to an injury he sustained in 2017. He is easily one of my all-time favourite wrestlers and when I’m watching a NJPW show I often find myself wishing he was still around, PK’ing his opponents into oblivion. Damn I miss Shibata.