Tetsuya Naito vs. Juice Robinson from NJPW 2017

This was for Naito’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This match had more important goals than delivering the best match possible in this spot. This match was about Juice Robinson diving head-first into the NJPW main event equation formula and living to tell the tale. He needed to take on a genuine main eventer. They had to go long. He had to take limb damage. He had to make it seem believable down the stretch that he could win. And, finally, the fans had to believe in him despite all reason and logic saying he did not have a chance to actually win this one.

All that mostly happened here, and it made this match a success. Naito did tranquillo shenanigans. Juice took the fight to him. Naito went after Juice’s leg. Juice sold it mildly better than a lot of NJPW main eventers (it didn’t stop him from doing anything basic, but he was not exactly running and flying all over the place like most of the dorks that populate the NJPW main event scene). Juice made an honest go of trying to win with the Killswitch. Naito managed to avoid it though repeatedly and then finally put Juice down. (***)

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