Takuya Nomura vs. Fuminori Abe: Best Friends Forever

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There have been many attempts at capturing the themes of friendship in wrestling matches over the years. They’ve done it in different ways. MJF vs. Adam Cole most recently is a big example of this. They’ve tried to manifest themes of friendship and love through hesitation to harm each other. I’ve always felt that this kind of friend vs. friend is the most dishonest, grating, and the absolute worst way you can do that kind of a match. So when Astronauts announced they’d produce a show as a tribute to one of the greatest promotions of all time, BattlARTS, it is safe to say that I was extremely excited to see their take on a one-on-one clash between the pair. On a card that featured Daisuke Ikeda and Yuki Ishikawa rekindling their rivalry, this was my most anticipated match. And boy, it more than lived up to the hype.

They start the match with a typical feeling out process, and Nomura gains the upper hand, so Abe, in typical Abe fashion, bites him to get out of it. From there, this turns into a violent thriller. They take turns beating the shit out of each other until Nomura regains control of the match and works on Abe’s leg, with his selling serving as a nice transitional period into the next segment. As it would happen many times during the match, the tides turn when one of them lets their anger get the best of them and try to unload too many strikes, dropping their guard and paying for it. The long Nomura control segment that follows is absolutely sensational. He beats up Abe in every way possible. Abe trying to shoot headbutt and punch his way out of this to no avail absolutely rocks.

Through all of this, the escalation of violence is mind-boggling. It’s not epic for the sake of being an epic. They try to win this by simply hitting each other harder than the other. When it doesn’t work, they start hitting harder and then even harder than that. Transcendent malice. Toxic masculinity at its absolute best. The lengths these two go to just to not give an inch to their friend are simply preposterous.

In the end, Abe is only able to pull this one off because Nomura is a slightly more level-headed person. There is no other way to explain this other than Abe just outlasting Nomura by being an insane nutjob in this visceral display of violence. I could talk about many other times they tried to give each other CTE during it, but none of that will do this justice. Go watch it for yourself and witness greatness unfold.

It is just simple, honest, pro wrestling. You do not want to lose to your buddy. There’s too much professional and personal pride on the line. And there is no better way to show your respect and love for them than to give it your all in trying to take them down. It’s not just in wrestling, either. It’s everywhere in life. The stupid kid that I was did this back then!

They capture the true spirit of BATI-BATI and BattlARTS in this classic, and I was hooting, hollering, and laughing like a geek through it all. As I finish writing this after already watching it a 4th time, all I can say is that I’m just happy this happened. The ultimate feeling. Haven’t seen anything as transcendent as this match in a while. God bless professional wrestling.

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