Recap from David Arthur:
This is the finals of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual Best of The Super Juniors tournament in 2009. Koji Kanemoto, a veteran of New Japan’s junior-heavyweight division, who early in his career donned the mask and persona of Tiger Mask III, was 43 years old at this time. His opponent was Prince Devitt from Ireland, who was invited to train at the New Japan Inoki Dojo in Santa Monica, California after being a stand-out performer in the UK starting at the young age of 18. He was 15 years Kanemoto’s junior at this time (for those of you who are bad at math, he was 28).
The match begins with the two competitors trading holds on the mat, trying to gain the first advantage. Devitt takes the first strike, but Kanemoto, known for being quite the striker himself, fires back with strikes of his own and begins to work over Devitt’s leg and knee before a break. Devitt tries to regroup, but Kanemoto seems to be a step ahead of him. Experience, kid. Experience.
Devitt finds the opportunity to utilize the high risk portion of this offense. At two points he dives over the top rope to the floor with the intention of landing on Kanemoto. However both attempts fail. On the first dive, he lands on one of Kanemoto’s ring seconds ( dojo trainees who accompany the wrestlers to the ring, also known as “young boys.”), the second attempt, Devitt crashses into…..nothing whatsoever except the floor (splat!), But despite all of this, Devitt is full of fight. He takes it into the crowd, and then, as if two failed high risk dives weren’t enough, Devitt manages to hit a leaping double stomp on Kanemoto from the ring apron while Kanemoto is laid out in the front row of seats.
The match makes its way back into the ring. Kanemoto seems to have lost the step he had ahead of Devitt. They exchange stikes multiple times, and every time things turn to Kanemoto’s favor, Devitt fights back. At this point things are clearly even between the two. Kanemoto finally gains ground in his attack on Devitt when he gets ahold of his leg and applies the Ankle Lock. Devitt keeps making his way to the ropes for the break, no matter how many times Kanemoto takes the advantage and targets the leg, Devitt finds an escape and continuously fights back. Give the kid credit, he really wants it.
The striking game continues, neither man backing down or giving the other any quarter. Eventually, Kanemoto ties Devitt’s legs up Figure 4-style, and turns him over with both legs trapped and applies the Ankle Lock again. Devitt moves in every direction but cannot make it to any ropes. He is forced to submit. Koji Kanemoto wins the 2009 Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
Afterwards, the two men bow to one another, and then to the audience, honoring the tournament, and honoring New Japan Pro Wrestling. The award presentation follows. Trophies that got bigger, brighter, and gaudier as the ceremony went on were given to the tournament’s competitors. I’m uncertain who all the well dressed men were who presented these trophies, but Kanemoto was awarded the tournament championship trophy, 5 other trophies, and a large check for 5 million yen. Devitt was awarded one as well (runner-up I assume), and a second one later (no idea what it was for). Also awarded trophies were Kota Ibushi and Atsushi Aoki, the two competitors who competed in the semi-final matches with Kanemoto and Devitt. Two other men, who competed in the tournament, were also awarded trophies: New Japan veteran Akira Nogami and Dragon Gate’s YAMATO (actually he got a shiny plaque).
Prince Devitt is amazing and quickly becoming a favorite. I like most things that involve Koji Kanemoto, as he has been a favorite of mine for quite some time now. I’ve seen many battles involving him against the likes of Jushin Thunder Liger, Shinjiro Otani, Chris Benoit, and others. The bottom line is that this match is great.