For the second time this year, the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer has dusted off the ultra-rare *****+ match rating by awarding the NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors Final *****1/2.
Pitting the absolute psychopath that is Hiromu Takahashi against recent defector Taiji Ishimori, this was a punishing, spectacular, and very ill-advised war. Its soon-to-be-infamous major spot did at least inform the remaining narrative. Takahashi - it bears repeating that he is a psychopath - took a Frankensteiner bump down the steep Korakuen Hall stairs, following which the Tokyo crowd received him as a figure of intense sympathy. This was a career-defining night for Takahashi, who controlled the emotions of the crowd in an absurdly gutsy performance against a man of immense speed and power, framing his comebacks with a layer of dramatic impossibility.
His opinion is of course subjective, but writing objectively, the crowd reaction was molten. Deafeningly disspelling the so-called "silent crowds" myth, they decided upon its instant classic status days before the release of this week's Observer.
This, strangely enough, was a conservative rating, when one considers the sheer extent to which Dave gushed over the match on Observer Radio in the aftermath. He was so taken with it that he doubted the ability of Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega - in their sequel to a ******1/4 match - to better it.
Meltzer, gauging by his write-up, felt an almost moral obligation to not "reward" the match by elevating it to the ****** scale because he does not want to encourage this increasing recklessness. Hiromu probably can't be reasoned with, mind.
He. Is. A. Psychopath.