Shuji Kondo working over Masaaki Mochizuki's legs
Shuji Kondo was an early Dragon Gate star that made his debut in Toryumon Japan in 2001. He was fired for undisclosed reasons in early 2005. He went on to have a great career in All Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestle-1. This is his first match in Dragon Gate in about 14 years. Masaaki Mochizuki is one of the leaders of Dragon Gate. He's been with the promotion since day one and has done it all.
These guys skipped the traditional babyface-heel dynamic in favor of more of an athletic competition to find out who is the baddest man in the ring. Masaaki worked over Kondo's arm, and Kondo worked over Masaaki's leg. Even though Masaaki is 49 years old, and Kondo is 41 years old and bulky, both guys move around like guys half their age. Both are athletic marvels in their own ways.
Overall, this was really high-level wrestling with a little of everything for everyone. The pacing was superb. With the confidence that comes from being a veteran capable of controlling the crowd, both guys took their time and really let each individual portion of the match sink in. There were plenty of creative spots. Both guys have a high degree of attention to detail. Kondo's tough guy selling and Masaaki's strike are both on a world-class level.
Kondo picked up the victory with a lariat.
This is easily a match of the year candidate and a match that everyone should see. Right now the Kaito Kiyomiya Vs. Kenou match from NOAH is my leading candidate because that had more of a babyface-heel grudge feel that was missing from this Masaaki Vs. Kondo match, but both are excellent, and this Dragon Gate match wasn't too far behind. I know it's still very early, but if this isn't in my top 10 by the end of the year, then it's going to be a fantastic year for professional wrestling.