What do you get when you have twenty-five year old Kota Ibushi facing off against against twenty-two year old El Generico in a match that, while not having any kind of build, managed to be a damn fine exercise in storytelling? Probably one of my favorite matches of all time. Yeah, you read that correctly.
I’ve heard a lot of people call this a good match and just a spotfest. While I agree, I hardly see that as a problem. For their FIRST TIME in a singles match against each other, Ibushi and Generico had chemistry and paced the match to match their similar styles. Take the highspots for example; there were quite a few of them in this match, but the lead-in AND the placement of those spots were executed perfectly, and looked like there was build to them. I have no problems with a spotfest as long as it’s well structured, and this was just that – and it’s definitely possible to have a well structured spotfest, even a wild one such as this. Coherency and a lot of highspots ARE NOT mutually exclusive, nor do they need to be.
The story that this match told was nothing particularly special, but the execution made it better than it needed to be. This was Ibushi’s last match before heading back to DDT. With two straight losses under his belt he had a great deal to prove and that story aspect translated extremely well into the match. That just made this all mean a lot more than it should have. This is just a testament to how amazing both of these guys that they could take a random match like this and make it an emotional ride. The post-match scene cemented the emotion with both men shaking hands before Generico raising Ibushi’s arm as the crowd chanted “Please come back!” to Ibushi. It was a heartfelt goodbye that heightened Ibushi’s win, making it feel like so much more by the end. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t in some way feel pretty damn upset when I remember that it’ll be a good while before we see Ibushi in a wrestling ring, much less one of Ring of Honor’s.
I don’t fault anybody if they see this review as nothing more than me just being a mark over an eight year old match from some random ROH show (you’d be dead right about that), but I feel like all the wires were crossed in the right places with this one. Outside of some mild pacing problems that could be attributed to them not getting as much time, this was stellar; and if anything that problem left a lot of potential for the encounter they eventually had four years later. This was one of my favorite matches of all time. If there was ever something that breaks the law of diminishing returns for me, it’s this. Thanks for reading.