I didn’t expect this one to be a sprint, mostly because it involved The Bodyguard, a man who may be physically incapable of sprinting, but that’s what it was. Just seeing these two go at it was something, and Bodyguard’s presence as a prominent figure on the Japanese wrestling scene is as confusing as it is delightful. Never did I think when this strange man appeared in Osaka Pro years ago that (a) he’d still be around and (b) he’d actually be capable of having a good match. The contrast in appearances was fun too, with Bodyguard resembling the man your younger sister shacks up with when she decides she’s into older men so she finds one that’s well into tribal tattoos and nutrition. Loads of nutrition. Akiyama is yer da, perhaps the greatest, grumpiest father in pro wrestling today. Sure, this new fella might look the part, but yer da’s been doing this for years and doesn’t give a fuck. He knows you don’t treat her right and he’s gonna teach you a lesson. Your sister in this scenario is, of course, the big man Zeus.

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This began fast and furious as Bodyguard attacked Akiyama with a couple of lariats, one of which preceded the bell, causing him to call for it like a lad trying to cash in Money in the Bank. Akiyama eventually rallied back with his knee strikes and an exploder, all of which Bodyguard was able to kick out of, before another flurry of lariats (and a high kick!) earned Bodyguard the upset win. I got a kick out of the finish to this; after dominating early Akiyama was showing increased spirit and only getting stronger as the match progressed. The early attack got Bodyguard the advantage so he only needed the one final kill shot, which he finally hit to win the match. Bodyguard’s pretty limited but this was paced in such a way that it hid a lot of his weaknesses and accentuated his strengths, so you can’t really ask for more than that. Nearly all of the veins in Bodyguard’s body exploded after his win, he was well hyped, and for a man of his advanced years and physical shape this was a worry. One day his heart will stop but it will be fine because he will probably be flexing at the time and his wrestling career (at least as a tag team wrestler) will be able to continue in a Weekend at Bernie’s-style fashion. ***1/4

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