Published Sunday, 30th September 2012

From The Commentary Box: Beaten But Not Defeated

Statistics often make uncomfortable reading; they provide an unambiguous and cold-hearted account of an athlete’s progress and ultimate success.  The RPW archivists don’t use phrases like ‘nearly won’, ‘a close contest’, or ‘a gallant effort’ when logging the outcome of another battle in the squared circle.  Theirs is an unsentimental language: one that simply reads ‘win’, ‘lose’, or ‘draw’.  A language of percentages, titles held, and money earned.  For Noam Dar, waking up the morning after his loss to Prince Devitt at RPW’s maiden outing, ‘Summer Sizzler’, this was his reality – he lost.  Again.  RPW may have spread its wings and acquired a new name, but the curse of old seems to have followed Dar; neither for love nor money can he seem to get a win in this company.

Yet sport is not as cut and dried as the number-crunchers would have you believe.  Sometimes the record book is an unreliable narrator, because what it doesn’t disclose is whether or not an individual exceeded what was expected of them.  Dar v Devitt was about as David v Goliath as it gets, and the reality of sport is that Goliath tends to win.  In my opinion (and that is all this is), Dar v Devitt was the shock of the night.  Devitt won, but barely, when he should have destroyed his much less experienced opponent.  If wrestling did photo finishes, that’s what this one was: a match so finely balanced that it defied the form book.  Fergal Devitt has held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag-Team Championship six times – more times than anyone else in history.  He has also twice held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, along with countless other belts across the globe including the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship.  He is one of a select few to earn the right to be called ‘Best of the Super Juniors’.  Devitt is, without question, one of the finest wrestlers in the world, and on August 26th he was given the fright of his life.  The performance Noam Dar gave at Summer Sizzler would have beaten the majority of wrestlers, but Fergal Devitt is firmly one of the minority.  The Irishman is one of the elite group, and Dar kept pace with him for the duration of the match, ultimately narrowly failing to strike that one big move necessary to get the win.  But ask yourself – if that was the first time you had seen either man, would you have been able to tell which was the inexperienced youngster and which was the seasoned veteran of the Japanese circuit?

Make no mistake, Noam Dar has work to do; he is not winning matches.  However, only a fool would judge him solely on his win-loss record.  Devitt himself tweeted, after the match, “@NoamDar is one of the best performers in the U.K.right now.”  Praise indeed from a man who has graced the same rings as Tanahashi, Nakamura, and Goto.  Dar is one of British wrestling’s brightest – and indeed most dangerous – prospects, and he was clearly devastated to have lost yet again.  However, sometimes a high profile disappointment is the making of an athlete; would Andy Murray have won a Grand Slam and an Olympic Gold Medal without the motivation of his evisceration by Roger Federer at Wimbledonthis summer?  Would Ronaldo have scored twice in the 2002 World Cup Final without the traumas of his late-night seizure in 1998 still fresh in the memory?  Every stride that Kelly Holmes took towards double Olympic Gold in 2004 was driven by the pain that she had endured over several long, and bleak, years.  Noam Dar knows that he was on the verge of stardom at Summer Sizzler, and that he failed to take his chance, but that will only intensify his determination to never let that happen again.  In years to come, we may look back on August 26th 2012 as the turning point in Noam Dar’s career.

You can next see Noam Dar in action at The Uprising Weekender on Saturday October 13th & Sunday October 14th: