Hideki Suzuki v Ryuichi Kawakami (Big Japan, 2/10/17)
Presumably the follow-up singles to the January tag (for more information on this wrestling match, see Hideki of the Day #3), this definitely had a 'first match in the feud' feel to it. You need to start somewhere, though, and for eleven minutes it was a cool first match in the feud. Both guys are pretty coy in the early parts, neither wanting to play too much of their hand too early, though like in most Suzuki matches we get some nice exchanging of holds. There's a great Suzuki moment where he counters a chin lock by grabbing one of Kawakami's wrists and twisting like he's opening a stubborn jar of pickles. Sometimes you can just tell from a wrestler's reaction whether it's all selling or not, and this looked like the grimace of a man who knew he was either being taken down to the mat or losing a hand. There was another part as well where Suzuki had him in a tight headlock and Kawakami's face was contorted into about four different expressions. I've only seen Kawakami twice so I'm still in the process of formulating an opinion on him, but I'll tell you this much: he hits like a bastard. He threw some MEATY forearms, brothers. Last few minutes were real good and the finish was great. Suzuki had come close to hitting the butterfly suplex a couple times, but Kawakami had been able to reverse. Kawakami then connected with a big forearm and Suzuki went full on dead weight, and for a second I thought they were actually gonna do a ref' stoppage. Kawakami eventually managed to get him up, but Suzuki was playing possum and hit the butterfly for the quick three. Satisfying build up to what I assume will be plenty of ill will and ass-beating and whatnot.