Watching Davey Richards and Prince Devitt go at each other in this 2012 match in Nagoya, Japan, makes me wonder why we can't see wrestling this deliriously exciting in the USA. I suspect that we can, if we're just in the right place at the right time, but something about Japanese fans and promotions brings up the best in American and European wrestlers.
Richards and Devitt have faced off dozens of times since 2007, in Japan and elsewhere, but never as brilliantly as in this 15-minute title match from New Japan Pro Wrestling's 40th Anniversary Tour on March 10th of 2012. You can watch it here and here. The fighters start off with freestyle takedowns and mat grappling, establishing their creds as "real" wrestlers (something I wish more US promotions insisted on). From there we move to some Irish whip grandstanding that stokes the fans' enthusiasm and gets the boys sweating. The give-and-take action in and out of the ring escalates to near-frenzy levels in a high-flying, stiff-chopping, and dizzyingly paced third act. That plot structure seems just about perfect to me: first, honest mat grappling; second, crowd-pleasing stiff chops; and third, clutch-your-heart acrobatics leading to a neat finish.
I'm a huge fan of both these guys, but in the final analysis I'm a Davey Man. I've seen him in two live shows in the past year and a half, and my heart has snagged in my ribcage both times. Richards is a hard worker and a performer, not in a gimmicky way: he saves all his flash for the action, and the action speaks for itself. Look how both wrestlers perfectly sell the moves illustrated in the gifs below. These exchanges are balletic in their grace, yet crisp and snappy as iceberg lettuce. Devitt's head-wobble after Richards' kick is inspired. The next three moves are brisk and flawless. And look how Richards sells Devitt's forearm chop in the last--head snaps back, body caroming to the next turnbuckle. These guys know what they're doing, and technical skill, showmanship, and physical training don't often come together in pro wrestling this beautifully.
Gifs from Beautiful Stalker