We decided to celebrate our 100th loveletter to quality pro wrestling by coming up with as many MATCHES YOU SHOULD WATCH as possible. It was originally gonna be the TOP 100 but we figured that would be soooo square- and we wanted to keep it under Mobey Dickesque proportions. The main criteria is technical, in-ring quality – but since there is more to wrestling than that (sometimes) we also decided to pepper this with matches you should ALSO see for whatever reason. Also, we didn’t repeat matches by the same two people – thus only one of the Mabel vs Koji Kitao classics made the cut. These are in absolutely no order (or Fujinami vs Maeda would be first. HAHAHA!)




If you’ve never seen Misawa and wanna see what all the fuss is about, get this match first. This was the second All Japan match I ever saw (actually, make Tsuruta vs Misawa your first Misawa experience; it worked for me.) and it was such a strange experience to see wrestling like this. My past experience as a wrestling fan prepared me for some of this – seeing Dick Murdock eternally when I was a child, all those Ric Flair matches, all those Ricky Steamboat matches- but you really can’t express the FEEL of this match and I was blown away by the sheer COOLNESS of it. Kawada stoically charges the ring amidst frenzied fanfare – looking unpretty and tough as hell – an Far Eastern Murdockian figure if there ever was one. Cut to Misawa getting ready to enter the arena, keeping his legs limber, decked out in his green and silver pants with sharp looking James Dean silver windbreaker, for all the world like a Different Kind Of Elvis Circa 1968- Kenta Kobashi at his side like high-cheekboned Scotty Moore. When I first saw this match, I was blown away. This was like a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western in the cool detached way they locked up – focused on each other because there is no need to play to an educated crowd because this match has them at a fever-pitch already. The psychology is deeper than Lake Superior. Kawada is trying to get Misawa into position for his Stuff Powerbomb enough times for it to put him away and uses fat ass kicks, lariats and a random Stretch Plum to get to it. Misawa has to overcome the KING-SIZED beating from Kawada and use elbows and nasty suplexes to escape. They balance both sides perfectly so that there are points where Kawada could easily go over, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Misawa to kick out – an aspect of Japanese wrestling that gets lost these days as everybody has to kick out of fifteen finishers for no apparent rhyme or reason. The selling is sublime- as by the end it has the feel of great heavyweight boxing from the 70’s where the exhastion of the participants adds weight to every move and logic to the time between moves as they feel effects of the exhaustion of an athletic contest. Beyond the moves, the selling, the heat, the stiffness, these two at their best – and this is the best singles match ever arguably (though I’d argue for Maeda vs Fujinami)- are transcendent to anything else in the art of Pro Wrestling. It’s got all the elements of what makes great wrestling matches great, but it has something else that you can’t explain – like Roy Orbison’s voice or a Matisse painting. It’s ethereal and great and it’s art and you should fucking see this match.


I was going to go into this match in a lot more detail before Gabriel Sanchez of the CBVR – you know, one of the guys Foghat wouldn’t even take – and John D. Bockwinkel started cutting promos on each other on RSPW-M over the circumstances surrounding it. (“Expletive deleted. Nine minutes have been deleted from this match.”) The whole match is like a Rocky movie as the magnificent bastard Maeda kicks the shiznit out of strong-style defender Fujinami and works over all of his body parts, but Fujinami takes all of it like a man and refuses to go down to the upstart. Maeda is just a MACHINE, even busting out an Exploder on Fujinami at one point, and the crowd is insanely rabid for all of this from bell to bell. They have to improvise a finish after Fujinami gushes blood from a Maeda kick gone awry, and a double-KO just doesn’t cut it considering that both were fine and dandy less than a minute earlier. That said, this is just an incredible match that still holds up 13 years later… take away the Jazzercise-attired flower girls and folks’ll be none the wiser. And how does a guy scam a copy of Maeda’s theme music?


This match was 1997 match of the year and was one of the top five juniors matches ever. The thing that stands out in this match immediately is the big bump El Samurai takes on the reverse hurricanrana: Samurai lands directly on his head and neck, in one of the nastiest bumps you will ever see. However, the really standout thing in this match – and the part that outlives the initial shock of the big bumps – was the level of intensity and stiffness in the mat wrestling and the strikes. The kicks in this match were as stiff as any BattlArts match, and they had an especially nice long mat section, with big stretching on all the moves, at one point El Samurai had on a Rings of Saturn and he nearly had Kanemoto’s elbows touching. Koji worked on the knee the entire match and really got over the submission attempts. Koji was also a spectacular cock, tossing the ref around, slapping Samurai, putting Samurai in a kneebar and flipping him off and such. The big moves at the end were damn big, and the crowd was going nuts. Great wild match, with all the neck death of an All Japan match with the added bonus of tons of mat wrestling.


The end of a great feud. Hair vs. Hair. Old school 80’s wrestling. The Cotton Bowl. All the makings of a classic WCCW match. One of the Von Erichs best matches as a tag team (Kevin ruled; Kerry was horrible). All you kids who didn’t get to see the magic of master heel Gino Hernandez, run out and find as much WCCW as you can. Beg borrow and steal for it. And make sure you get this match because Chris Von Erich does the one cool thing in his whole worthless life as he prevents the heels from leaving the ring after the match.


This is a really brutal tag match. I remember watching this on tv and wincing with how bad the Rocker’s where getting beat up. If you’re going to watch any thing with Buddy Rose, you’ve got two choices : this match or the infamous “Blow Away” commercial from Saturday Night’s Main Event. This is really a nothing fancy match as Somers and Rose aren’t exactly the most dynamic offensive team in the world. In fact, Doug Somers is so Vanilla, I can’t think of single move of his that sticks out. It starts off with Michaels getting posted early on and playing Ricky Morton face in peril as Somers and Rose punch him and stomp him in the face and generally cut off any near tags, working the crowd into a frenzy. After about 10 minutes, Michaels matches the tag and Somers blades following two post shots. Jannetty then bleeds following some biting and punching. Jannetty goes out of his way to top the previous 3 blade jobs. We get a ref bump and Jannetty gets killed as Rose drops him stomach first on a set up chair. The locker room clears after Somers and Rose go nuts and start being on Michaels two on one. Post match, the faces try to hold back Michaels who chases after Rose and ends up bleeding on the camera. It was a great way to launch the feud between the young Midnight Rockers and the tag champs. The other great thing about this was that the Rockers continued to sell the beating from this match a few weeks afterwards.


The grudge match coming off Santito’s unthinkable rudo turn the previous week, and the tecnicos are out for his blood. This is the Brawl With It All – ungodly heat (when Santo hits the ring and mockingly blows kisses to the crowd, even the piss-poor Televisa audio mix can’t hide the fact that these folks would like nothing better than to see his ass on a platter), insane violence (Santo rips a set of ringside chairs off its moorings so he can level a bloodied Dandy with them) and perhaps the ultimate death-for-your-pleasure highspot (Garza tries a Shooting Star Press to the floor and accidentally invents the German Air Show Senton in the process). Dr. Morales marks out about a half-dozen times, the crowd is at a froth the whole time, Bestia is in tears at the end and Negro LAUGHS IN HIS FACE like a maniac. Unbelievably intense and dramatic. American bookers should be strapped in their chairs and forced to watch this Clockwork Orange-style to see how to book revenge matches.


One of the most beautiful and graceful matches – mostly because El Volador was such a great, great graceful high-flyer – before he ground his knee into oatmeal. Juventud is the perfect freaked-out foil as he sells the high-end in-ring lucha armdrags and headscissors of El Volador while whipping out his arsenal of cool ass suplexes. Psic was knee-deep in Sabu worship at this point in his career but reels himself in to do wads of great straight lucha to augment the psychotic highspots he brings to the table. Poor Mexicano is amazingly smoked in this, but to his credit, doesn’t drag down the proceedings because he wrestles over his head for a caida and stays out of the way for the rest. El Volador does a Full Extention Overhead Armdrag into a slide that still ranks as one of the most beautful and graceful things I’ve ever seen in wrestling.


An elimination tag which is a showcase for the beauty of Lucha Libre mat wrestling, we have a 20 minute section of the match before the first elimination where the luchadores pair off and take it to the mat like motherfuckers. Santo and Casas heat up that hottest feud in wrestling, Satanico and Atlantis bust it up old school, Ultimo Dragon makes the usually worthless Scorpio Jr. (posesser of the ganckiest back acne in the world) look kingsized, Silver King makes the tubby Oro look brilliant and Black Warrior and El Dandy exchange dandinos in some of the most breathtaking mat work I have ever seen. Then the match kicks it into high gear, as eliminations start coming, Shocker hits a tope where he goes completely vertical, and Felino turns Technico by eliminating four wrestlers to win the match. Nearly an hour of great wrestling and one of the best matches ever in Mexico.


For along time, this was the best match that I had ever seen. I rewatched it recently as I stumbled across it on a tape I was indexing for Dean. It was probably the first time I had watched the match in easily 10 years and it really withstands the test of time. The blinding pace that this match takes place at is unbelievable. There were something like 9000 armdrags each one of them ruling in their own way. I still don’t like the George Steele interference but at least his hairy ass wasn’t in the match. Savage used to really rule.


This match was the final of the 1993 Top of the Super Junior tourney and arguably the best junior match of all time. The hate was what made this match, it all fine for a stoic battle of great athletes but good old fashioned disgust will take the cake. El Samurai starts by slapping Liger in the face and proceeds to rip his mask, spit on him and give him some super nasty right crosses. Liger responds by shotaying the bejezeezus out of El and tearing his ugly silver mask completely off (which did him a favor fashion wise although it did expose his hideous mullet). This match also had some world class flying with Liger rocking out with the top rope senton to the floor on the prone Samurai, and a Orihara moonsault, while Samurai busted out the playeristic tope-con-hilo which he really needs to start doing again. This match had it all and is worlds better then the current no-selling intensive NJ Juniors stuff.


“Oh! Stan Hansen da! STAN HANSEN GA SECONDO DESU NE!” Those words send shockwaves throughout the Japanese wrestling scene as Hansen makes his surprise debut with All Japan, seconding Brody and Snuka scant days after working for New Japan in *their* tag league final. What people tend to forget is that the match itself is really damn good, starting slow and picking up at the 10-minute mark as Terry hits a fucking PLANCHA to the floor on Snuka. Things settle back down after a brief foray into the crowd by Terry and Brody, and the Funks start to work over Snuka’s knee setting up Dory’s spinning toehold. Brody tosses Terry to the floor… and in one of the most famous moments in puroresu history, Hansen nukes Terry with the Lariat. “TERRY DOWN!” Dory has to go it alone, and despite juicing Brody he soon falls to the King Kong kneedrop and Brody and Snuka take the RWTL. They start to work over Dory some more, which leads Baba and Jumbo to make the save for Dory, and Hansen shows he’s already a company man by immediately juicing for the BABA CHOP. Hey Koshinaka, jump in and make the save! You too, Misawa! All Japan will never be the same, as Hansen sets himself up for a 15-year run as a headliner with AJ, thanks to his actions here.


Wild match which was the highlight of the multipromotional Dreamslam cards. Sort of a weird blend of an FMW streetfight and a BattlArts match, as this is match that has piledrivers on tables and springboard tope-con-hilos along with judo chokes and armbars. Of course, what makes this match stand out is the level 16 blade job by Hokuto, who gets cut too deep by Wally Yamaguchi and sprays blood all over the ring, but this wasn’t just a gore fest (gore fests are usually consigned to the Other Stuff you should see category) this had loads of great wrestling in it. Kandori’s rep in Japan is as a virtually unbeatable legit badass, and Hokuto played the underdog. This match was super stiff with Hokuto delivering some nasty spin kicks, and Kandori delivering some real stiff punches, then ending was just top drawer, with Hokuto and Kandori busting out loads of wrestling moves (Northern Lights bombs, powerbombs, armbars etc.) and when those moves don’t put their opponent away, they just start exchanging punches to the face, with Akira breaking out a super nasty one to finally get the win.


This was the first real lucha show I had ever seen and it took this one match to make me an Eddy Guerrero fan and an Art Barr fan. Despite the fact that the PPV is in LA, the red, white and blue clad super dicks draw almost unparralled hate from the fans. Topped off with Art rattling the fan’s cages even more by doing “the swim” and assorted other cheap heat tactics to whip the Mexican fans into a frenzy. Eddy almost lawn darts Santo as he rana’s him off of Art’s shoulders and then they put away Octagon with a superplex followed by the measuring stick of Frog Splashes by Barr. Santo and Octagon rally hitting a great double tope. The psychology comes into play as Santo gets pinned, putting him out of the second fall and thus the whole legacy of the Santo family is in the hands of his partner who rallies to keep the team alive. The final falls starts out with a mix of stuff, Eddy uses Santo’s finisher on him, Octagon saves, Santo goes for it and Barr saves. Eddy busts out his father’s Gorry Special. Eddy and Art attempt the sterio topes which ends up with Eddy faceplanting on the floor. Barr tombstones Octagon rendering him DEAD for the rest of the match. Santo gets killed by Gringos double teams until a miscue and Barr’s arch rival Blue Panther runs in and kills him with a piledriver, evening the score and leaving it down to the second generation wrestlers settling the score with each other. Eddy busts out the New Japan Juniors offense but can only get two counts. Eddy’s suplexes attempts are eventually blocked and Santo rolls up Eddy as Barr says “where am I?”, and the Gringos lose their hair. It’s sad that Barr would die shortly after this as with his skills at drawing heat, you’ve got to wonder what whould have happened had he made it to New Japan and ECW like he was supposed to. Also present at the match was the late Louie Spicolli. You can also listen to Mike Tenay of the past, the one that could and was allowed to actually call matches.

RIMI YOKOTO vs. CHINO SATO – 1/4/80 -AJ Junior Title Decision Match

Rimi becomes Jaguar later and she REALLY rules it in this match – and, actually, in about every other match she was ever in, up to her last match in Jd’. Chino Sato is mean as heck and rules it hard in this match (maybe she’s a younger Jackie Sato- who besides Tim Whitehead could be sure? 🙂 ) This match is a freaky and great. At some points, it’s just magnificently old school to the point where it looks like they were both in a trance and channeling Dory Funk Jr – as they exchange Indian Deathlocks and PRESSURE HOLDS and work out of armbars and headlocks and – just when you think it can’t get anymore Old School Extraorinaire! – Rimi whips out the pinnacle of Old School – The Standing Head Scissors – and, of course, I popped like a monkey. Just when you thought that these two were simply perfecting a basic Steve Muzzlin – Boris Malenko match, Chino throws Rimi into the stands and Rimi does a somersault over the first two rows to land blindly on her head – thus taking an insane bump that wouldn’t become commonplace for another FIFTEEN years. After Rimi takes a rolling shoulderblock to the stomach while standing on the apron, they go to the OTHER section, showing where Jaguar took wrestling into the modern age by taking flight and by hitting primitive suplexes. Chino actually hits a swanky powerbomb to do her part. Inbetween all this, quarternelsons for the pinfall attempt were the rule of the day just to keep it real in the EIGHT OH. Rimi was a MASTER of both the old and the new aspects of wrestling at an early age and that’s why she was probably the best wrestler we will ever see. Jaguar probably shows this match to all her students to show them how to bump to get a match over, how to effectively set up a big finish, and basically how to wrestle like an incomparable QUEEN.


Anytime you could get Tony and Dusty to stop talking about the NWO, there is magic in the air. This match is Gold! Pure Gold BABY! Dusty starts screaming that this is his favorite match. That comes right when Regal delivers the world’s most vicious clothesline. This match is much better than the parking lot brawl because they don’t pan away from the carnage. I remember Phil and I having a long discussion on who we would rather have in a bar fight – Regal and Finlay. Can’t go wrong in with either, in my opinion.


I’d be lying if I told you that Spot-Fu was my cup of tea… that said, this is perhaps the greatest Spot-Fu match of all time. The fun begins before the match even starts as the babyfaces get individual intros before Kaientai DX say “Screw it!” and roll out en masse to their cool-as-living-fuck theme. What follows is 30+ minutes of lucharesu fireworks as all 10 guys throw out every single highspot in the book for the city slickers in Tokyo. K-DX was never cooler than they were here, and Sasuke can take pride in the fact that they had a big house legit and didn’t have to darken Sumo Hall like JWP, Tokyo Pro and Battlarts were forced to do.


Great lucha singles match, probably the best Psicosis match ever. Most of the great Psic matches depend on huge bumps and crazy highspots, this match was mostly on the mat, and Psicosis hung with Santo. Meanwhile, Santo out highspots Psicosis hitting a tope, a plancha and a flying tope-con-hilo on a prone Psicosis. The first fall rules, with both guys rocking it on the mat, and Psicosis getting a submission with Santos camel clutch. These two have had a bunch of great singles matches, and I think they meld even better then Rey Jr. and Psicosis.


BOY! This is whole lot of blood! There never was a more perfect allegorical representation of good and evil so tailor-made for so specific an audience and the astounding amount of heat is the result. All Japan Women in 1985 was all for teenage schoolgirls and- in their collective eyes- Dump Matsumoto is the embodiment of percieved womanly evil: grotesque, corrupted, corrupting, amoral, violent, hate-filled, powermad- TOTALLY DRUNK ON THE BLOOD OF EVIL! She was motherfucking great in this role. Her entourage of slutty evil henchwomen- Bulldozer Nakano, Crane Yu,- personified each schoolgirls future if Dump takes over in their lives- defiled, debased, subservient to the grotesque, the hideous, the violent. Dump represents the taking of the virtuous and turning it into evil- with the beauty of a young Bull Nakano creeping through the mohawk and cheap mascara drives the point home. Chigusa is perfect as the virtuous defender of all that virginal as she fights the dragon called Dump and her hoary minions. Chigusa- with Lioness as her virtuous second- really fights like a motherfucker and the toll is astounding as Chigusa hits the first of her several hundred world-class bladejobs to bring the whole hellish BLOODfeud to true fruition. The psychological and deep psycho-sexual undertones of these matches make them some of the most fascinating matches in the history of wrestling. The symbolism. the allegory, the blood, the violence- it all taps into a part of what it means to come of age and the journey to Womanhood and all these other things that I don’t understand- but was hitting the schoolgirl audience full-on in the face and they understood it perfectly. I think this match was the first time Chigusa understood the power of wrestling as an artform in expressing the unlying anxiety of being an woman in a patriarchial sport in an oppressively partriarchial society- and she uses this power fully in her bizarro Mid-South-Bill-Watts-as-quasilesbianic- messiah booking of GAEA. Great stuff, this. Someone should write a term paper on this angle.

THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (Lane/Eaton) vs. THE FANTASTICS (Rogers/Fulton) : US Tag Title Match, Clash of the Champions I (REV RAY)

Ahhhhh… Clash of the Champions, the NWA’s free tv answer to Wrestlemania. Then Hulkamania would come to town and it would be suck-fest city. Clash I actually had a lot of cool stuff on it, like a barbed wire match on free tv… TBS! Family entertainment at it’s finest! The Express have quite a bit of a following in Greensborough. This one turns into a pretty mean brawl as the chair shots and table shots come a plenty. The Fantastics were still pretty new to the territory at this point, but had pulled off a few “upset” wins over the Express to establish enough hate for one another. The Express start double teaming as they were the masters of it and get in cheap shots on Rogers who gets to play Ricky Morton. Rogers gets slammed and bulldogged on a table at ringside. You get your manditory 80’s “he made the tag, the ref didn’t see it. Frustrated with the Midnights and Cornette interfering, Fulton tosses Randy “Pee Wee” Anderson over the top rope and the Fantastics hit the Midnight’s Rocket Launcher to get a three count, only to have themselves DQed. You see, hitting a referee is illegal… and the NWA had that over the top rope rule. To tope it off, the Midnights lay into the Fantastics as Cornette doles out the racket shots topped off with Fulton getting lashed. Dusty-fied ending, but still a pretty great match. JR and Tony Shiavone call the match…. and Tony calls moves!


This was the first TRULY great match to come out of BattlARTS as Ikeda finally perfected the style that he wanted the promotion to use. He toned down the overly-esoteric shootstyle sections or simply used them as a vehicle for a pro-style psychological element and then kicked up the strongstyle and US Pro-style elements to the point that it became the first truly realized Postmodern Pro wrestling style- in that it synthesized whole elements of three styles and synthesized them to the point that they were usually pretty seamless. The match itself is a nigh perfect as the stiffness is fricking amazing and the effortless switching from shootstyle to strong style to US Pro style is really cool- like listening to Game Theory for the first time or something. The ending is fucking AMAZING as Ikeda and Otsuka try to see how much punishment each can take in a worked setting as they try to knock each other out by pounding the living crap out of each other. Harrowingly great.


This is set up with some mic work where Eddy Tiger dedicates the match to the Japanese people. Ohtani’s interview looks like he’s more interested in his fishing date with Misawa than the upcoming final. This starts as a 4 way brawl as Benoit goes over Tiger and Sasuke and Tiger are more than happy to brawl with them. Ohtani gets beat up for a bit and gets chaired for being such a puss boy. Tiger and Sasuke give Ohtani the Rocker-plex and start busting out the double teams. Ohtani survives the intial beating to get in a springboard plancha before playing dead in the corner. Eddy’s in full rudo mode with a lot of little dickish moves, including coming in and giving Benoit the old fashion Moe Eye Poke as he’s got Sasuke in a surfobard. Sasuke and Ohtani bust out the million pin and counters spot. Benoit suplexes the fudge out of Sasuke with Tiger breaking up the near falls. Ohtani drop kicks Sasuke off of Benoit’s shoulders. Ohtani goes after Tiger after numerous pin saves allowing Sasuke to get back on the offensive. This match is a lot of fun as it’s little things like Benoit who’s in a half crab making a tag to Ohtani and then tying up Sasuke’s leg so he can’t defend himself or tag so Ohtani can nail him. Ohtani plays totally limp dead after a top rope frankensteiner and Tiger puts him in the Gory Lock and tags to Sasuke who jumps off the top rope and nails him with a double ax handle. Benoit bounces Sasuke’s head off the canvas a few times with some powerbombs. Finish starts to build as Ohtani starts going down the murder’s row of Tiger finishers. Benoit answers by suplexing Sasuke to the floor and later stepping away from a Quebrada attempt so Sasuke finds nothing but floor. Benoit and Ohtani attempt the rana off the partner’s shoulders and pretty much kill themselves doing it, but it leads to win for Pegasus and Ohtani.

VADER vs. CACTUS JACK – WCW Saturday Night 1993 (RIPPER)

“The Potato Incident”. Vader hits Jack with something like 27 potato shots, each caught by the extreme closeups of the WCW camera work. The crowd gets hotter and hotter as Jack keeps coming back from the pummeling. Vader, who was World Champ at the time, sells a big bunch to make everything even better. The roof finally blows off the joint as Mr. Foley gets the countout win. Vader and Harley Race go nuts over the fact that Jack won so Vader, while destroying the set, challenges Jack to a rematch next week. That match would be the one were they do the “powerbomb heard round the world”.

JERRY LAWLER vs. BILL DUNDEE – CWA 10/19(or 12/30?)/85 (POGO PETE)

One of the best brawls Memphis ever produced, which is saying something. No-DQ, no time-limit, Southern title on the line, Lawler leaves town if he loses and Dundee AND HIS WIFE get cue-balled if *he* loses. Tony Falk had attacked Lawler earlier in the night and tossed ink, hair-remover or some other foreign substance du jour in Lawler’s eyes, and so Dundee stays just in Lawler’s blind sight and whales away on him for the first several minutes, even bumping the ref just because it’s no-DQ and he can. So there. Lawler finally catches Dundee clowning around and levels him, takes him outside and sends him into the famous Memphis ringside table. They wade into the crowd and brawl up the stairs, where Dundee sends Lawler over the guardrail and Lawler takes this insane horizontal bump 10 feet to the floor. Lawler somehow makes his way back to ringside (by smell?) and drops his strap so you KNOW Dundee’s a dead man now. Lawler drops Dundee (gotta love the Mempho crowd with those “OOOOOH!” pops everytime the heel takes a punch), but Falk gives Dundee the stuff he threw in Lawler’s eyes before. Dundee is on target with it, and one three-count later Lawler has to leave Memphis. Fantastic brawl with a beautiful storyline, done back when Lawler could still go and the Superstar was still at the top of his game.


This match was the climax of the UWFI v. New Japan feud and was one of the biggest money matches of all time. The match itself was excellent, though short and was quite a show of both men’s versitility. Takada had won the IWGP title and Hashimoto was attempting to return it to New Japan so the drama was built-in. The psychology of the match was pretty simple: Takada wanted to knock out Hashimoto with kicks, while Hashimoto wanted to hit his brainbuster, both men used counters, Hashimoto countering a Takada high kick with a brutal leg sweep, and Takada countering the brainbuster with a Fujiwara armbar. Takada got some close falls with submissions, however after several tries Hashimoto hit the nasty brainbuster and immediately slapped on a triangle choke for the tap out. They never had a rematch, as Takada left New Japan after this show. It was interesting to watch how both men adapted to the styles of their opponent, with Takada using more pro style moves (back suplex, boston crab) and Hashimoto worked a shootstyle match (no pin attempts, submission based.)


Megumi Kudo was just GREAT at streetfights- a reg’lar distaff Cactus Jack but with a gorgeous face and actual wrestling ability. Mayumi Ozaki is the best garbage wrestler in the world so this was an absolutely gorgeous streetfight. Ozaki bedecked in her Navy Seal T-shirt and ripped up jeans takes it to the mat, hits the suplexes and goes face first into the barbed-wire like a MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN. Oddly bell-bottom bedecked Megumi Kudo, who wasn’t as technically adept as Ozaki, makes up for it bringing what she brought to every match she was ever in: an amount of toughness that was in direct correlation to the amount of HOTness she possessed- and goll knows Kudo was hotter than all living hell. This was TRUE Russ Meyeresque feminine archtypical sexuality and violence combined in a dizzying mish-mash of terror and hatred and other stuff that elude me as the coolness of the match washes over me. Ozaki is fucking awesome and Kudo was almost as awesome. Definiteley the best Women’s match ever in FMW. Definately disturbing unless you are used to Joshi Puroresu levels of violence and mayhem taken to the extreme unladylike level. It’s all very liberating and arty when you think about. This match is fricking great.



Oyez oyez! Hail to thee, gentle and discerning reader, and welcome to the Celebratory Studmuffin Centenial that is Death Valley Driver Video Review 100! Reunited, and it feels so good, the only choice for the best in pro-graps and straight-up ass-kicking, often imitated by those who have never fornicated, the Death Valley PLAYBOYZ stand united in honor of this momentous occasion in online history! So grab a single-malt and push your way through the mob of celebrants (Hey lady, we’ve got a ‘pasties’ law in this state, so cover up! No, I don’t care if your kid is a moderator or not!) as The World’s Sexiest Neurobiologist drops no less than *10* mixed martial-arts matches on ya, each one a masterpiece in its own right and collectively comprising a compilation of fights YA GOTTA SEE!

Let me state then, that these fights are by no means ‘in order’ of quality, but rather a collective compilation of matches significant for both the efforts of the combatants and the overall significance of the match in MMA lore.


The Background: Royce Gracie entered this early UFC tournament as the undefeated 2-time defending UFC champion; indeed, not only was Royce undefeated at this point, but essentially unchallenged, winning 5 of his 7 UFC matches in around a minute, confounding his opponents with his overwhelming mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, including a 57-second submission of Ken Shamrock. At a lithe 180lbs, Royce was dwarfed by the 270lb Hawiian monster, Kimo, an unknown who purports to be an expert in Tae-Kwon-Do. Kimo sports a wild assortment of tattoos, including an enormous crucifixion scene on his back, with the name ‘Jesus’ across his abdomen.

The Fight: Kimo enters the ring literally ‘on the cross’, dragging the enormous prop to the Octagon before prostrating himself in prayer. Kimo is led to the ring by the infamous Joe Son, who gained notoriety both for using his scrotum as a speed bag in UFC4 and for starring as ‘Random Task’ in the first Austin Powers movie. Kimo’s background is listed as TKD, home of flashy and useless Hollywood-style kicking, but once the bell rings, Kimo charges in maniacally and grabs hold of a shocked Royce. Kimo easily overpowers Gracie and has him pinned to the fence while Gracie desperately tries to protect himself. Gracie manages to drag Kimo into the guard, but Kimo is so powerful that Gracie’s ground technique can barely put a dent in Kimo’s assault; Kimo lands a few fierce punches and seems to be impervious to Royce’s previously dominant BJJ skills. Royce suddenly finds the opening that he’s looking for, in the form of Kimo’s well-groomed topknot/ponytail, which happens to make an excellent handle for Royce to grab on to. From the guard, Gracie uses the leverage of the hair (perfectly legal) and his hips and legs to unbalance the agressive Kimo and thwart his offense. After a blistering start, Kimo is visibly winded only 3 minutes into the match, and Gracie gradually takes over. In a flash, Royce has latched on to Kimo’s arm and tugs with all his might against the elbow. Kimo taps, and Gracie gets the win, but at what cost? Royce Gracie is carried from the ring by his family entourage and must withdraw from his next scheduled fight in the tournament against Canadian ‘tomato can’ Harold Howard. UFC3 thus marks the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament that Royce Gracie did NOT win. The entire match went less than 5 minutes of non-stop action.


The Background: Royce Gracie’s withdrawl from UFC3 left the field wide open for the first time in UFC history. Harold Howard went to the finals against alternate fighter Steve Jennum (replacing the injured Ken Shamrock) in undoubtedly the worst finals matchup in UFC history. Jennum became the worst UFC champion in its short history, and Royce prepared himself for a return to claim ‘what was his’ in UFC4. But one monkey wrench was thrown into the works, in the form of Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn, amatuer wrestler extrodanaire with dozens of wrestling titles to his credit. Combining flawless classical wrestling technique with his 250lb powerhouse frame, Severn makes an immediate impression on MMA fans with his utter demolition of 200lb muay-thai fighter Anthony ‘Mad Dog’ Macias, crushing the smaller man with a pair of textbook German suplexes before forcing the tap-out in under 2 minutes. Severn then disposes of Marcus Bossett, while Gracie submits Ron Van Clief and karate stylist Keith Hackney to force a championship match between the two men. Gracie had been overwhelmed by Kimo’s strength in his previous UFC appearance; could he be expected to do better against Severn, who combined strength with elite-level grappling technique?

The Fight: Severn immediately asserts his wrestling excellence by fending off a Gracie shoot and managing a double-leg of his own to land squarely in the guard. Severn establishes his base over Gracie, and as the minutes pass, the differences between Severn and Kimo become apparent; Severn’s stamina easily outpaces Kimo’s Hellwig-esque windpower, but Severn is incapible of throwing effective strikes, owing to his years of amatuer wrestling. Rather than punch Gracie in the face, Severn instead slaps his ears and attempts to smother him with his hands. The time ticks by, and although Severn hasn’t inflicted any significant damage to the much smaller Gracie, he easily maintains his position and seems in no danger of relinquishing his dominance. To the vast majority of the American audience who are uneducated to the nuances of MMA, Severn appears to be easily overwhleming the smaller Gracie. 10 minutes in, and this has become the longest fight in the history of the UFC until this point, with neither man showing signs of fatigue or distress. Severn continues to control the ground action and throw weak strikes, while Gracie skillfully uses his guard to keep Severn from overwhelming him with power. At the 13 minute mark, Royce’s legs begin to creep up on Severn’s back as ‘The Beast’ continues to scoot the smaller man across the mat. Suddenly, Gracie grabs one of Severn’s posted arms and locks his legs around the arm and neck, creating a powerful vice grip on the neck. Severn rears back to extricate himself, and must be absolutely astonished to find that he cannot. Gracie continues to apply the pressure, and Severn is left with no other choice but to tap out. The triangle choke makes its UFC debut at 13:49, and Royce Gracie is once again the undefeated, undisputed UFC champion.


THE BACKGROUND: Freestyle wrestlers made an enormous impact in the world of MMA during the mid-90s, combining unparalleled stamina and conditioning with a brutal ‘ground and pound’ attack that few fighters could withstand. As time passed, however, the flaws in wrestling’s armor began to manifest themselves, as non-wrestling fighters eagerly took note. From Dan Severn to Mark Coleman to Randy Coutre to Kevin Jackson, elite-level grapplers fell like leaves in the face of submissions specialists unafraid of groundfighting with the wrestlers. Only two men can rightfully claim to have emerged from the MMA battlefield with their wrestling credentials intact: Mark Kerr and Tom Erikson. Tom Erikson, a 290lb behemoth grappler, had been either second or third at the U.S. Nationals every year since 1985, and won the World Cup superheavyweight freestyle gold medal in 1992. Erikson maintained an undefeated MMA record through trips to both Japan and Brazil, often winning in dominant and spectacular fashion. His opponent here in the Martial Arts Reality Superfights (MARS) is a wiry 210lb Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, Murillio Bustamante (BOOS-ta-mon-tay), an unknown outside of Brazil who boasts an undefeated record and that steamy machismo to drive the chicas wild.

THE FIGHT: When Erikson wants to take the fight to the ground, he does. Bustamante has no hope of countering Erikson’s jackhammer shoot or Greco Roman power. So the fight goes to the ground early and stays there with Erikson in the guard. And as the minutes tick by, the big Boilermaker still looks fresh, landing sporadic short blows to the face, but Bustamante in unfazed. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that Erikson has no great advantage on the ground against the skillful defensive guard of the smaller Brazilian! Bustamante is so adroit at using his hips and feet to maneuver his opponent that he’s landing solid blows of his own, *from his back*, against a world-class wrestler who outweighs him by at least 50lbs. As the fight approaches 20 minutes, Erikson is growing frustrated by his inability to successfully ‘ground and pound’ this fuzzy little bastard, but he’s doing favorably in the war of attrition. Erikson tries to pass the guard on at least 20 occasions, but can never maintain an advantageous position for long before falling back into the guard. At 30 minutes, there is a break, with a 10 minute overtime to follow. Bustamante’s face is battered by Erikson’s clubbing blows, but remains confidant. Erikson flings Bustamante to the ground, but winds up in the dreaded guard again. In an amazing turn of fortune, Tom Erikson, one of the most feared wrestlers in the world of MMA, simply stands up, takes a step backwards, and dares Murillio to follow him to his feet! Just think about this for a moment – one of the best wrestlers in the world, a man who had been utterly dominant on three separate continents, is REFUSING TO WRESTLE with a man he outweighs by more than 70lbs! Bustamante grins from his back and slowly butt-scoots towards Erikson, beckoning the big American to try his luck in the guard again, but Big Tom stands still as a statute, his hands raised in the classic, ‘Put up your dukes’ pose. Finally, Bustamante clambers to his feet, but immediately collapses as Erikson closes in. Erikson clearly wants Bustamante to stand so that he can utilize his Greco-Roman background and fling the smaller man to the ground, hopefully landing outside the dreaded Bustamante guard. Bustamante has no intention of allowing the bigger man to flip him like a pancake, and flops to the canvas at the first sign of danger. As the minutes tick by, Erikson suddenly develops a strategy. Bustamante can butt-scoot to his heart’s content, but Big Tom isn’t going to be drawn into a groundfight. Instead, Erikson shoots in on the prone Brazilian, lands a few clubbing strikes to the head, and quickly backs out to his feet. After several minutes of this draining hit-and-run, Bustamante is clearly showing the wear and tear of a good whoopin’ on his handsome Brazilian visage. As the clock expires for the 10 minute overtime, the giant Erikson looks winded, but unscathed, while the smaller Bustamante has serious swelling on the left side of his face from those repeated flurries. After 40 minutes of grueling competition, MARS wisely decides there is only one possible outcome for these proud warriors. A draw is announced, but Erikson, clearly in awe of Murillio’s magnificent technique, holds the Brazilian’s hand up to the cheers of an appreciative crowd. One of the most phenomenal displays of dueling techniques ever placed on display in the history of MMA, this match is an absolute jewel for the serious connoisseur of the fighting arts.



LIGHTNING KID vs. JERRY LYNN: GWF Light Heavyweight Championship Final ’92:

Ah, ’92, when a young man named Shawn Waltman looked like he weight all of 100 pounds and would kill himself for your pleasure because he hadn’t taken 50 concussions yet. They take it to the mat early but then it turns into Kid kicking Lynn right in the face and Lynn countering with a dragon screw. This gets pretty bump intensive for a match of this time as Kid gets drop kicked off the apron to the floor and takes a pescado. Then, not to be topped, Kid does a tope about 15 feet from the post to a stage. Since it’s a Global match, we get our manditory ref bump as Kid hits a off the top rope somersault body attack to take out Lynn and the ref to lead to the Kid using a chain to knock out Lynn for the win. This is fun to see as for the time, it’s not something you’d see in the US. Kid was a great high flyer until the concussions and neck injuries caught up with him. Lynn was solid back then, but would get better with age.


Jumbo was SUCH a surly bastard as he was winding down his time at the top of All Japan and was LIVING UP TO the fricking legend that he had become in this- the first All Japan match I ever saw. Misawa is all about the Tiger Mask II offense that had just demasked from and was merely taking really stupid highflying bumps- like the dropkick off the aporn onto his own head- as opposed to the totally retarded Memory-Destroying skullbusting bumps he would get into later in his career. Misawa is also the surly young dick in this when he gets in the cheapshot slap to the face after a break (the legendary stoicism would set in later). Jumbo was a heavyweight that so good that he is the standard all heavyweights should be compared to. At his best, he was Old School, stiff as all hell and he swarmed over a match- dictating a perfect pace and telling beautiful, elaborate stories. Jumbo is definately a fucking one man slaughterhouse in the beginning of this- as he hits fat ass elbows and knee drops and suplexes and lariats. The story of this seemed pretty simple at the beginning of the match- old guard Tsuruta is a heavyweight who must fend off the challenge of quasi-Junior high-flyer New Guard Misawa who is using wacky highflying to baffle the larger, slower wrestler- but this develops into a multi-tiered story of Jumbo’s stiffness vs Misawa’s high-flying drifting into Misawa needing to hit Jumbo with higher impact moves to somehow contain the mauling offense of Jumbo. Misawa finally makes headway when he hits a crushing ringpost shoulderblock to floor that Jumbo sells like the final offensive transition for Misawa (as in “JUMBO TSURUTA- DEAD AT 44”), and when Jumbo kicks out the crowd is going insane. Jumbo gets back on offense and just starts killing Misawa with his jawbusting High Knees and his MAN-SIZED lariat that was beautiful to see. Wrestling gets no TOUGHER than this. This is MEN wrestling like MEN. This is why I watch pro wrestling and why I’ve never been afraid for anyone to know it. This is everything good and pure and awesome about pro wrestling. This is possibly the most perfect wrestling match I’ve ever seen.


Onita has been in dozens of exploding barbed wire matches, they all follow a simple match psychology. Onita takes a hellacious beating, scars himself up, bleeds a ton, makes a big comeback, wins, spits waters, yells on mike, goes into ambulance. This match was a little better then most, because Atsushi drags his back across the barbed wire and opens up some nasty cuts, Funk does his crazy old man selling which rules in small doses, Onita saves a beaten Funk from the ring explosion because of the shared All Japan history or something, and did I mention THAT HE SLICES HIS OWN BACK UP WITH BARBED WIRE? Some decent wrestling psychology with Funk working over the knee for the spinning toe hold, but mostly a worldclass bloodfest. Onita death matches are a must see phenomenon and this is the best.

TENRYU vs. SHINYA HASHIMOTO: 2nd Round, G-1 Climax Tournament ’98

This is a big old batch of fun. This is a whole lotta chops… STIFF chops and Tenryu gets all super grumpy and decides to bring the pain to Elvis Hashimoto who serves up a hunka-hunka-burning chest pain as they just pound on each other. Moves can get old. Stiffness doesn’t get old and this match as a result has the potential to age very well. Tenryu decides he’s old and the only years he’s cutting off are the wearing an adult diaper years so he dives FACE FIRST into Hashimoto leg lariat. Enjoy this and avoid their truly awful J-1 Title match later in the year.


All Japan Women made their reputation on high workrate matches with lots of high flying action done at a wild pace. Well this ain’t that, this is two women beating the every living fuck out of each other, and- call me a sadist- I will take a Lioness Aska punch square to the face over a Manami Toyota missle dropkick six days a week and twice on Sunday. This match was under UFC rules, which appears to just mean that they didn’t pull any of their punches. This was wrestling taken to it’s extremes, the only thing that seperated this from a real fight was some level of cooperation; every kick, forearm, punch and submission hold was applied with full force and intense malice, there was no artiface. Parts of this match are uncomfortable to watch because the brutality is so complete. Great shootstyle wrestling has a grace to it, this was graceless. By the end of this 22 minute match, both women were bleeding from their mouth. The first part of the match was exchanges of punches and kicks, and then they sprinkled in some knees, and then had a section where they tried to rip each other’s joints out , then they had a section were they powerbombed each other right on their heads, and they finished with a Hotta shoot kick which was as legit looking as any worked kick I have ever seen. Amazing match.

CHRIS BENOIT vs. KEVIN SULLIVAN – Falls count anywhere – WCW Great American Bash (6/16/96)

This was the first great heavyweight bout Benoit ever had- and the fact that he does it by beating the holy dogshit out of total schlub Kevin Sullivan makes it all the more incredible. The great thing is that the amazing degree of sheer violence in this match is pretty much what Sullivan had been trying to pull off his entire career. And it was surprising that he finally found a conduit to bring the TRUE in-ring violence (that he could never muster himself) by booking a feud against an unover Canadian Junior Heavyweight. It was a bit of booking insight by Sullivan that he saw in Benoit an amazing brawling quality that was not present in his prior work and pushed it all towards this match. The key to this match is that Benoit looks legit badass punching Sullivan right in the fucking face so that when Sullivan (who couldn’t sell ice water to people in hell) no-sells them, it just makes Sullivan look tough- as opposed to what he usually looked like: a no-selling piece of shit. My favorite part about this match is that it really has the feel to a barroom fight- as they continuously punch each other right in the motherfucking face on their way to each designated spot. The importance of this match is many fold. It set a prototype of what a brawl in the 1990’s needs to have to be considered “great”- as it surpassed the gimmicky and overly-contrived brawls in ECW from which this style of match sprang, and it had a gimmickless intensity and violence that only Finlay/Regal, Finlay/Benoit and Hashimoto/Tenryu have achieved through sheer stiffness and toughness. The ECW bouts and the amazingly lesser WWF/WCW hardcore bouts lack the sheer in-ring knowhow of how to convey the sheer violence and hatred that this match impressed upon the viewer- a quality that the three truly great brawls of the 90’s also possessed. The other important thing about this match is that it put Benoit in position to be a legitimate heavyweight in the eye’s of the US public- a feat that the other New Japan 3 never pulled off. The Amazingly Over Benoit started with this match and hindsight is starting to look twenty-twenty that this was a great move for Benoit’s career.

DOS CARAS vs. THE GREAT SASUKE: Mask Tournament Final : ’95

This is pretty insane as the Great Sasuke gets skull fracture #1 of his career. Not content with his first death bump of the tournament (a top rope frankensteiner to the floor in his loss to Gran Naniwa in the first round), Sasuke decides he’s going to have Dos powerbomb him off the apron. Now, usually when you see this spot, people will at least have something to break their fall, like maybe a table so they do go directly from the apron to the floor. Well, not our hero Sasuke. Mr. Skull, meet Mr. Floor. Then, after getting his skull cracked on the floor, Sasuke takes ANOTHER powerbomb in ring… but that’s not enough boys a girls… he decides to KICK OUT! FUCKIN’ INSANE. One more powerbomb seals the deal. You know, there is such a thing as too much commitment to one’s job.


As beautiful as the Hash/Tenryu match from the ’98 G1 Climax was for all the stiffness, this IMO is even more beautiful for the variety of attacks used. Kobashi controls the early portion, electrifying the crowd to the point where they’re counting along with Joe when Kobashi goes for a pin less than 2 minutes into the match. Stan sells like a champ early, but he finally takes control by sticking his boot in Kobashi’s face as he charges into the corner, which results in the left side of Kobashi’s face immediately swelling up like a grapefruit. Kobashi rolls to the floor, at which point Stan Misterio Jr. hits a motherfucking TOPE! Kobashi somehow finds the strength to come back, and the rest of the match has the triple-tough veteran and fiery youngster throwing every move they know at each other. The finish is my all-time favorite: Kobashi slams Stan and goes for the moonsault, but Stan recovers and keeps him from going for it. He steps out to the apron and the two trade slaps, headbutts and elbows… at which point Stan absolutely O B L I T E R A T E S Kobashi with an honest-and-for-true Lariat From Hell and gets the pin. You have to hear the reaction when Stan hits it… 16,300 people collectively screaming “Oh my God, he’s DEAD!” Most of them don’t even bother counting along with Joe when Stan pins him- that’s how final this looks. Awe-inspiring.


This match was the highpoint of Extreme Tijuana (there is a star of death match that is rumored to rule even more but no one has a tape). This match was in a barbed wire cage and all four of these nuts weren’r afraid to go face first into the barbed wire multiple times. The meat of the match was good with plenty of guys being strung up in the barbed wire, but the real fun is post match. Haloween lights a barbed wire baseball bat on fire an starts hitting Ultraman with it (Ultraman is Damien 666 ), he pops him pretty good a couple of times, and the Psicosis just whallops him with it, breaking it into pieces of flaming material off the bat. Psicosis then decides to leap off the top of the cage and leg drops Leon Negro through a table on the floor. Then everyone from the locker room comes out, and Rey Mysterio Jr. does a bunch of highspots, they crucify Leon Negro, there is a valet catfight and a bunch of guys yell on the mike and it is wild. Try to get the version with the post match showing of scars, including the charred back of Damien. Not a technical masterpiece but quite clusterfucking goodness.

JUSHIN THUNDER LYGER/FLYING BRIAN PILLMAN vs. BEEF WELLINGTON/ CHRIS BENOIT: Clash of the Champions – NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament – Round 1- 6/22/92

Despite some truly bonehead moves by Bill Watts at the time : pushing his son and banning the top rope, someone had the braincells firing as they decide to throw together the Light Heavyweight Dream team of Lyger and Pillman who had feuded over the WCW Light Heavyweight earlier. Then to top it off, they make it a big ol’ Calgary Stampede reunion by throwing in that Chris Benoit feller and Beef Wellington. Had beef been replaced with say, Owen Hart, people’s heads probably would have exploded, but Beef doesn’t get smoked too badly in this. Beef sports a weird ass hair cut, pretty much buzzed except for a pony tail in the back. Beef bumps quite a bit in this, he takes about 3 or 4 bumps to the floor, once drop kicked off the apron, once suplexed to the floor, once through the ropes and once over the post after missing a corner charge. Benoit takes a Pillman belly to back superplex and makes it look totally king sized by making it seem he was dropped on his neck. Pillman hits a cross body off the apron on Benoit to the floor and they lay into each other with chops. Lyger does a cross body from to the post to the floor. Beef counters a Lyger crucifix attempt with a fall away slam setting up Benoit attempting a top rope belly to back suplex which Lyger lands on top of Benoit out of and then pulls out a then unheard of in US wrestling Quebrada. Lyger and Pillman win after Lyger moonsaults Beef. Pillman and Lyger would go on to job to Steamboat and Nikita Koloff. Benoit doesn’t get a chance to say “You tell ’em, Beef!” Bill Alfonso is the ref for the match and Ross and Ventura do the commentary. In watching these old tapes, I really miss the days when announcers would call matches and put over the match in the ring rather than talk about the guy who has the book or some bimbo’s boob job.

HEADHUNTER A vs HEADHUNTER B: 5/1/95- IWA. Glass Death Match

One of the sickest matches ever but with a swanky twist!: attempted fraticide – as Brother A tries to kill Brother B. Really great stuff in this match with a couple of really twisted garbage spots, the foremost being the Suplex through the box of a pane of glass and the following carving up of foreheads with said glass. REALLY fucking foreign. NOT like something I had seen ever before – as it combined the extragant and elaborate garbage spots with the matter-of-fact violence of the best Puerto Rican bllodlettings. Crowd is behind HeadHunter B and chant “B! B! B!” to add to the whole fucked-uppedness of the proceedings. This match is great if you want to show a friend how fucked up the world really is. Transcendently great garbage match and the Headhunters finest (and possibly only) hour.


This match is a prime reason why everyone should love indie wrestling. The stars of tomorrow today. The Hardy’s are now former WWF Champions and legit stars. Shane Helms has signed a deal with WCW and Mike Maverick is a passable worker who would work well somewhere. To quote myself from the initial review of this match: “Man that was so the WORLD’S HOTTEST CROWD. The Thesz press ruled so much that in the car on the way home all three of us started to thing about it for no other apparent reason than it RULED. The Hardys show that they spend too much time around Too Much as the bust out all the homoerotic sexual overtones. The wrestling was great but I could have lived without the 69 spot. Anyhoo, Jeff Hardy decided to receive the Dangerous Ring Toss Driver as he flies like five feet over the ropes and to the floor. ” Hi. I’m Jeff Hardy. You might not know me but I’M INSANE!!! People who think tag team wrestling is dead need to get copy of all these Serial Thrillaz/Hardy Boyz matches because there is this special anomaly that keeps all this choiceness hovering around the Raleigh/Durham area.




THE BACKGROUND: We hike down to Brazil for this simmering fued between two of the most respected fighters in a country that knows its fighting. Renzo Gracie, of course, represents the famed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu franchise that revolutionized the way the rest of the world views MMA competition. 3-time UFC champion Royce Gracie may have gotten more ink in North America, but the wiry Renzo is just as overwhelming in his technique, and is quicker to boot. The Gracie clan has long touted its ‘Gracie Challenge’, an open invitation to anybody who thinks they can defeat the Gracie style under the most minimalist Vale Tudo rules. Stepping up to the plate tonight, Eugenio Tadeau represents the competing Brazilian style of Luta Livre, literally free fighting’ in Portuguese (the Spanish translation? Lucha Libre! But you’ll see no ranas or tope-con-hilos in this one, kids, though Tadeau will do the ‘Big Wiggle’ if you catch him on Schnapps night at the Limbo Club). Luta Livre incorporates aspects of BJJ in its groundfighting techniques, but tends to focus more on proper striking, and as such borrows heavily from Western boxing and muay-thai. Besides being a matchup of two highly respected fighters from competing styles, there’s the added incentive of bad blood between the two, owing to some pro-wrestling style remarks from Tadeau about the Gracie family. Jerry Lawler would be proud of the way Eugenio bashed 80+ year-old family patriarch Helio Gracie and put the moves on Renzo’s 14 year-old sister! Well, actually I think he just winked at her, but you could see the lust in his eyes.

THE FIGHT: The men approach each other in the center of the ring, and you can immediately see that
Eugenio uses a highly unorthodox stance, with bucketfulls of jerky head movement and hyperactive hand feints and gestures, showing his Capoiera background and groove-tastic funkmanship. Renzo works a couple of clumsy left jabs at the wildly twitching Tadeau before diving into a shoot for a double-leg takedown near the fence. Eugenio tries to maintain distance from Gracie in his guard, but Renzo raises his body up until Tadeau is nearly standing on his head against the fence. A couple of poor punches from Renzo and then its back to the ground, only this time Renzo has moved out of the guard and into the side-mount position, and huge tactical improvement. In a move that defies all common sense, Eugenio turns over on to his stomach, and quick as a hiccup, Renzo is all over his back positioning himself for the rear-naked choke and another easy Gracie win over another loud- mouthed chump. But wait! Eugenio turns out and shakes Gracie off his back before once again rolling on his stomach, where Renzo once again takes his back for the choke. THIS time Gracie will make short work of his challenger! Assuming Tadeau has read the script, of course. NO! Dammit, get this man a copy of the booking sheet! Eugenio twists and convulses and manages to shake free of Renzo’s grip once again and manages to get to his feet – with Renzo Gracie in a guillotine choke! The crowd is rabid as the supporters of the two schools of combat roar in approval of the technique on display here; Renzo’s execution has been textbook GJJ, but Eugenio combines his natural athleticism with an exceedingly unorthodox and unpredictable style of fighting which seems to have perplexed even the great Gracie! Tadeau hangs on to the guillotine and drops to his guard with his legs around Renzo’s waist to better crank the choke. Renzo wiggles his head free from danger to an enormous eruption from his partisans in the crowd. Tadeau now has Gracie in the half-guard, and Gracie takes advantage with some strikes, at one point landing 6 unanswered lefts before Eugenio manages to recapture the full guard again and stop the onslaught. Suddenly, Renzo backs out of Tadeau’s guard and stands, launching a crushing kneestrike as Eugenio sits up from his back. Renzo falls back into the guard and gives Tadeau time to catch his wits while he drives more kneestrikes into the thighs before improving his position to half-guard and continuing to throw knees at the ribs. A loud chant of “Renzo” swells from the crowd, not unlike the chants of ‘Goldberg’ in timing. Tadeau again rolls onto to his stomach and gives Renzo his back, which is (and you’ve heard this before) THE MOST DOMINANT POSITION IN FIGHTING. Giving your back to a Gracie is akin to letting your opponent go first in a groin-kicking contest, but Eugenio dodges yet another bullet and wiggles (no, not ‘Big Wiggle’; Tadeau points at where his watch would be to indiciate that it isn’t the appropriate time) free of Gracie’s clutches as the crowd falls just short of autofellatio in expressing their excitement. Eugenio returns to his feet, as does Renzo, with Renzo pressing the action with short leg kicks before shooting for a single-leg and attaining the full mount and raining down punches, while Tadeau returns fire by punching from his back. Two men climb on the ringside apron to shout encouragement to the fighters before being dragged back to ground level like crabs trying to escape a bucket. Tadeau squirms out of the mount and clambers to his feet. Both men are visibly winded here, and it bears note that we’ve had more than 10 minutes of solid, non-stop action from these dynamos. Tadeau throws a lethargic muay-thai whip kick at Gracie’s leg, and Gracie inexplicably collapses to the ground and refuses to stand, motioning Tadeau to come to the mat and grapple with the GJJ master. Tadeau throws some weak kicks at Renzo’s outstretched legs as 3 more men climb from the crowd to the ring apron to root on their fighters. A drink flies from the crowd and explodes in a shower of ice in the ring and the volume of the crowd reaches a fever pitch. Now more than 10 men are standing on the ringside apron, one of whom is clearly having a conversation with Tadeau as he hovers over the prostrate Gracie. Now an argument erupts at ringside as the entourages of both fighters jostle for position and visibility. Renzo slowly regains his feet but seems exhausted as the fighters circle again. Eugenio offers another listless whip-kick, which Renzo makes almost zero effort to block. Eugenio feints another kick and Renzo shoots in for a single-leg, driving Tadeau to the fence. More men have now jumped on the ringside apron to scream gibberish at the fighters who are too exhausted to hear anything other than the sound of their own heartbeats. The announcer comes on the public address system and begs the folks on the apron to sit back in the crowd so everyone else can see whats happening in the ring, but to no avail. Tadeau grabs a sloppy double-leg and literally rips Gracie’s legs from under him and dumps him on the mat. Now people are coming from everywhere to hang on the ring apron; one loses his balance and falls into the teeming mass of rabid fans which crowd-surfs him briefly before presumably stomping his face in. The referee steps between Tadeau and Gracie in an attempt to restore order. And then? Well, then all hell breaks lose. Its every Brazilian for himself as the crowd’s appreciation of the technical nuances of submissions fighting go right out the window in favor of an orgy of chairshots, wild punches, and lots of profane Portuguese. There ain’t a winner, and the eventual outcome of this match is filed away in the “What if?” cabinet with the winner of the 1994 World Series (which would have been the Yankees, BTW). Would Tadeau have continued his late dominance and been the first man to crush the Gracie NHB legend with the entire NHB world watching? Could Renzo have managed a miracle comeback predicated on Eugenio’s sloppy groundfighting and pulled the rabbit from the trap, as in Gracie v Severn at UFC4? Alas, we will never know. No rematch was signed, and Tadeau had fought his last great match. His North American debut in the UFC resulted in a hellacious slugfest with unknown Mikey Burnette, with Eugenio on the losing end.


THE BACKGROUND: Mark Coleman has no neck. OK, I got that out of the way. Mark Coleman is a spectacular freestyle wrestler, dominant in international events and winner of a World Games gold medal in the heavyweight class. Since his MMA debut at UFC10, Coleman’s explosive shoot and withering ‘ground-n-pound’ assault literally chewed up the UFC’s lineup. No sooner does referee ‘Big John’ McCarthy cry, “Lets get it on” then Coleman charges across the ring, shoots the double-leg and smacks the bejeezus out of some poor sap’s face. After winning UFC10 in short order (including a win over one of the greatest all-around fighters to ever step in to the Octagon, Don Frye), Coleman continued his winning ways at UFC11, taking another title when Scott ‘The Bozo’ Ferrozo was unable to continue after his match against Tank Abbott. Mark took some time off from fighting to accompany his ‘Hammerhouse’ team to Brazil, where he saw the Vale Tudo up-close, before returning at UFC12 for a ‘Superfight’ against 2-time UFC champion Dan Severn. Despite Severn’s world-class grappling experience, Coleman steamrolled ‘The Beast’ easily, tapping him out in under 4 minutes. Can anybody beat Mark Coleman? Coleman certainly doesn’t think so, to judge by the dismissive tone of his interviews during this period ofdominance. Enter Maurice ‘Mo’ Smith, the reigning heavyweight champion from the defunct rival Extreme Fighting promotion. Smith is a kickboxer, and if the history of MMA has anything to say about it, this means that he’ll be crushed like a bug on Coleman’s win-streak winshield. As the challenger in Extreme Fighting, Smith was a heavy underdog against their heavyweight champion, the 250lb Carlson Gracie diciple Marcus ‘Conan’ Silviera (note to fellow Miami natives – Conan’s Gracie Jiu Jitsu studio is just off Washington Ave on South Beach! So stop on by and then head to Sha-Been around the corner for the best spicy beef patties this side of Jamica!). Maurice shocked the world by exhibiting surprising groundfighting defensive accumen before knocking Conan’s shaved head into the third row with a crushing round kick to the temple. He followed this up by knocking out Japanese judoka Kazunari with a wicked right cross that damn near beheaded the poor chump, and claimed to have been working extensively with respected Japanese shootfighter Tsuoshi Kohsaka on his ground game. But now he was heading into unknown territory, against a fighter some called unbeatable.

THE FIGHT: After a minute or so of cautious circling, Coleman makes the inevitable shoot and drives Smith to his back. With animalistic rage, Coleman releases the bludgeoning power of his vaunted ‘ground-n-pound’, winging blows with both hands at the head of Smith. Smith covers up well, but the strength of the assault rocks his head violently. Coleman continues with the drubbing, throwing 20 or 30 punches in just a couple of minutes, but Smith hangs in there. As Coleman’s punching slows, Smith wisely uses his legs to push him down in guard, protecting his head and grabbing Coleman’s wrists to impede his punching. After only 5 minutes, Coleman has slowed visibly; how is this mere kickboxer withstanding his hurricane offense when all others had failed? As Coleman struggles to cope with this unexpected development, Smith jars him with a short right hand from his back. Smith continues to use his guard in conjunction with chopping punches to befuddle Coleman. At the 9 minute mark, Coleman tucks his head to catch a breath, and Smith quickly scoots out from under the bigger man and regains his feet. Maurice Smith has become the first man to pass the test of Mark Coleman’s blistering ‘ground-n-pound’, and Coleman, expecting another blowout win, suddenly realizes he has a fight on his hands. The crowd errupts for Smith. Smith lands a few strikes standing before being taken to his back again, even getting mounted by the wrestler and absorbing some stiff shots to the face, but Smith maintains his cool and continues his textbook counters; when Coleman rears back to throw a punch from the mount, Smith bucks his hips, unbalancing Coleman and muffling his power. The time ticks by and Coleman is sucking serious wind, while the challenger seem calm and collected. In an unexpected move, Maurice even flops to his stomach, exposing his back for the rear naked choke fully confidant that the muscleheaded Coleman lacked the technique to take proper advantage of his position. He was right, and soon managed to return to his feet yet again, challenging the exasperated Coleman to come and fight. Smith strikes effectively from his feet, using rudimentary boxing techniques which might as well be ninjitsu as far as Coleman is concerned. Coleman shoots and misses, Smith dancing just out of his reach. With time winding down in the regulation time period, Coleman takes Smith down again and gets the headlock from the side mount, the same submissions crank that caused Severn to quit, but Smith alertly fires some wicked kneestrikes at Coleman’s noggin and survives. The first regulation period expired, with two 3 minute overtime periods to follow. In the first, a fresh Mo Smith dances to the center of the ring and totally outclasses the 2-time, 2-time, 2-time defending UFC champion. Scoring at will with jabs and Muay-Thai kicks, Smith is so dominants that even missing a round kick badly enough to fall on his ass doesn’t give Coleman the opening he needs. Coleman hangs back against the Octagon fence, refusing to go to the center of the ring, where all good strikers like their fights to be. The second overtime continues the humiliation of Coleman, so tired at this point that he can barely stand, but Smith, for reasons he would later reveal to be respect, doesn’t press his advantage by going for the knockout, content to jab and dance until time expires. The judges decision was a formality. Maurice Smith had totally overwhlemed the most dominant fighter in the UFC, and in doing so shocked the martial arts world by proving that a kickboxer/striker can hang with the big boys on the mat.

RICKSON GRACIE vs. ZULU (Brazil, 1980?)

Is case you’ve been living under a MMA rock for the last decade, you’ve heard the tales of a man named Rickson, the cream of the Gracie crop. Boasting of an undefeated record with more than 400 wins, its hard to imagine a time when Rickson was considered just another skinny 19 year-old kid with dreams of Vale Tudo greatness and the flood of foxy Latinas that comes with it. So its no surprise to see that Rickson, weighing in at 170lbs, was a heavy underdog against Brazilian brawling sensation Zulu, an unorthrodox fighter with experience in Capoiera and a gaudy 140-0 record in MMA competition under the sparsest of Vale Tudo rules. Rickson gives up size, experience, and strength to the muscular 230lb Zulu. This fight, snippets of which can be seen on the ‘Gracies In Action’ (GIA) tapes, has acheived legendary status in Brazil; a Brazilian radiologist and fight fan with whom out laboratory collaborates compared the Rickson v Gracie series to Joe Frazier v Muhammad Ali.

THE FIGHT:- Zulu performs some sort of ritualistic dance in his corner before the start of the match, which was held in a boxing ring. Zulu quickly goes on offense, and easily takes the smaller Gracie to the mat and flurries with wild chops and punches. Gracie works furiously in the guard, trying to keep the powerful brawler from inflicting serious damage. Rickson tries some striking from his back, but isn’t enough of a striker to make a difference from this position, so he decides to smother his opponent by blocking his mouth and nose with his open hands. Time and film editing take their toll, and soon Rickson has managed to reach his feet. Zulu is visibly pooped, his huge arms rising and falling as he gasps for air. Zulu performs a bizarre dance in the ring, puffing out his cheeks and waving his arms like he was listening to his ‘Morris Day and The Time’ albums or something. Rickson is unfazed, but the crowd seems to dig it. Still, its all just bluff from a poorly conditioned brawler unused to being taken this far in a match. Written reports peg the time of this fight at around 12 minutes, and in the end, a fresh looking Rickson uses strikes from the side mount to force Zulu to give up his back and fall prey to the rear naked choke. If anyone knows a source for this entire fight (not the rematch from 1985), I’d love to own a copy. And the same goes for old Morris Day albums. Do the Oak Tree!

DON FRYE vs. TANK ABBOTT (Ultimate UFC ‘96 12/7/1996)

THE BACKGROUND: Don Frye is one of the greatest all-around fighters to ever step in the Octagon. A collegiate wrestler with professional boxing experience, Frye adds an intelligent, studious approach to fighting that makes him one of the sports’ most respected strategists. Frye’s debut in UFC8 resulted in his first UFC title, beating 3 fighters who outweighed him by an average of more than 70 lbs. Next stop was UFC9, where Frye stole the show from the ‘main event’ Shamrock v Severn snoozefest with a surgical decimation of BJJ champion Amaury Bitteti, before running headfirst into Mark Coleman’s threshing machine in UFC10. Tired from a draining battle of endurance with Mark Hall, Frye eventually lost the fight by referee stoppage after absorbing a tremendous beating at the hands of the bigger wrestler. UUFC’96 represented Frye’s first effort since he received his first career defeat by Coleman, and he didn’t disappoint. Frye tapped Gary ‘Big Daddy’ Goodridge in the opening round of the fight before sinking in a kneebar against Mark Hall to advance to the final round of the tournament. And who was on the other side of the Octagon? None other than Tank Abbott, UFC6 finalist and all-around thuggish brute who anahilated both his earlier opponents in this tournament with ease, including an absolutely frightening knockout of Steve Nelmark that should be required viewing for all WCW wrestlers who might think of no-selling for the Tank. THE FIGHT: Abbott didn’t put down his beer to come play games in the Octagon, and charges out with his trademark haymakers, and Frye is there to match him, blow for blow. Frye lands a stiff right cross, but Tank absorbs the blow and lands his own right cross counter. In the center of the ring, the 210lb Frye and 260lb Abbott trade brutal shots for nearly an entire minute of breathtaking action. Although Frye is more accurate and precise with his punches, Abbott is landing the heavier blows and seems to be wading right through Frye’s dangerous offense. Tank’s deadly punches draw blood from Frye’s nose and open up a small gash over his left eye, but Frye refuses to back off and insists on trading knockout punches with ‘The Human Concussion Machine’. Tank lands a wicked right hook, knocking Frye’s head back at the one minute mark, and charges in to finish the dazed fighter he once called “a Tom Selleck wannabe”, but fate intervenes. As he moves in for the kill, Tank somehow slips on a wet spot on the mat and sprawls flat on his face. A dazed by still dangerous Frye quickly leaps on Tank’s back and after a couple of distracting punches manages to sink in the rear naked choke to tap out the Tank. Total elapsed time, 1:23 of nonstop action from two of the guttiest fighters to ever strap on the gloves and step into the Octagon. Frye wins his second UFC title and soon retires from active competition to begin a career with New Japan pro-wrestling, while Tank Abbott would make some comment that evening which would draw the ire of one Ken Shamrock, who challenges Tank to a fight. Tank later accepts, but Shamrock had already left the Octagon for the safer rings of the WWF, and Abbott must live vicariously through the accomplishments of former sparring mate Tito Ortiz, who thrashes two of Ken’s top Lion’s Den students in early 1999 to gain some small measure of revenge.

FRANK SHAMROCK vs. ENSON INOUE (Japan Vale Tudo Open, 11/29/1997)

THE BACKGROUND: These days Frank Shamrock is riding high on a string of impressive victories in the UFC. Perhaps the most well-rounded 200lb fighter in the world, Frank eased into the world of MMA in Japan, starting with Pancrase competition and gradually progressing to compeitions with fewer rules and restrictions as he expanded his arsenal of techniques. But just a few short years ago, Frank Shamrock might as well have been Frank Stallone; the younger brother of a highly successful figure in his field, it seemed inconceivable that young Frank could ever aspire to reach the heights of skill and respect that his big brother Ken achieved both in Japan and North America. In this fight held under shooto rules (which include three 10-minute rounds and takes place in a 3-roped boxing ring), Shamrock challenges Enson Inoue, one of the famed ‘Fighting Inoues’ alongside his brothe Egan. Enson Inoue, a Hawaiian native of Japanese extraction, is a remarkably well-rounded fighter with no discernable flaws in his style, being adept at submissions as well as striking. Both men are evenly matched in size, with Shamrock holding a slight edge in power and Inoue posessing somewhat more experience in shooto.

THE FIGHT: Inoue opens with a thunderous right cross that send Shamrock reeling to the ropes. The men clinch and tumble to the mat, where Enson took guard and did a typically excellent job of thwarting Shamrock’s strikes for the next several minutes. Shamrock remains composed, however, and continues his methodical work in the guard while working to advance position. The first 10-minute round ends following more than 8 minutes of highly technical grappling on the ground, with both fighters looking fresh and unmarked for the next round. Early in the round the men clinch and Shamrock attempts a waistlock takedown, but Inoue is too composed to be thrown and ends up mounting Shamrock near the ropes! Enson took advantage of his position with some stiff strikes to the head, but Shamrock does a competant job of fending off the damage before rolling out and powering his way back to his feet. Inoue sees an opening and charges, throwing focused and precise stright rights and lefts, while Shamrock counters with wild punches from many angles. Its an all-out brawl in the ring, with both men throwing hellacious leather and bleeding as a result. Shamrock clinches his knuckles behind Inoue’s neck, Muay-Thai style, and fires a series of wicked kneestrikes to Inoue’s jaw, some of which are blocked with the forearms but others land. Inoue counters with nasty right uppercuts to Shamrock’s chin as he tries to free his neck from the downward pressure. With one explosive burst, Shamrock launches a devastating kneestrike that lands cleanly on Inoue’s jaw, dropping the shootfighter to the mat in a dazed condition. Shamrock follows up his advantage with more punishment from punches, prompting Enson’s brother Egan to enter the ring and insist the referee stop the fight. Enson is unable to defend himself in a coherant manner, but perplexingly the official decision is a disqualification due to Egan’s interferrance. Enson later acknowledges Shamrock’s victory with the kind of class and grace I’ve come to expect from this family of fine professional fighters. Shamrock celebrates in the ring, and you can see the joyous figure of Maurice Smith celebrating with Frank in the ring. Oh, so THAT’S where young Shamrock learned to work the Muay-Thai infighting! A brilliant win that launched the younger Shamrock to prominance in the fighting world; soon he would eclipse even his own brother in stature as a fighter. Enson Inoue continued to fight successfully in Japan and North America, defeating UFC Champion Randy Coutre (yes, the same man who bludgeoned Vitor Belfort into submission in the UFC) in Japan in less than two minutes to cement his place in the fighting community.

And for the last fight, here’s a u-pick-em of two brillaint short matches!


Nobody knew what to expect in the first UFC, which introduced MMA to North American audiences on PPV. The closest these curious fans had come to this style of combat was probably in the wretched Van Damm movie, ‘Bloodsport’, with every martial arts style in the world exercising flash-tastic kicking and other Hollywood striking techniques. The casual fan had to pick US-born Japanese import Ken Shamrock as the favorite in this fledgling tournament. Not only did Shamrock boast significant success in Japanese shootfighting promotions (and a few worked promotions), but he had the chiseled physique that Vince McMahon has been telling us for year is indicative of tough guys! But amongst the other pretenders lurks the frail frame of a young Brazilian stud named Royce Gracie (pronounce the letter ‘r’ as if it were an ‘h’), representing the bizarre and unknown style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu, ninjitsu, shinanju, what the hell, its all a bunch of hokey fireball-throwing crap anyways, ain’t it? Royce enters the Octagon at an inflated 180lbs (probably closer to 170), while Shamrock is a ripped 220. Big John yells, “Lets get it on!”, and Shamrock fends off a shoot from the smaller man before sinking to the ground. Before anyone can relalize what is happening, Royce Gracie quickly scoots to the back of Shamrock, who turtles up on the mat. Using the sleeve from his white Jiu-Jitsu gi, Gracie slips under Shamrock’s throat and gentley restricts his breathing. Its all over in 57 seonds as Shamrock has no choice but to tap out or lose conciousness. Gracie would go on to dominate the UFC like nobody has ever done before or since, going undefeated on the way to 3 UFC tournament titles.


Say what you want about wrestlers in MMA, but you’ve got to make this concession: None of them have the international reputation of Kevin Jackson, who is almost undesputibly the greatest 200lb freestyle wrestler in the world. An Olympic Gold Medalist, Jackson was undefeated in MMA and continued to win international wrestling tournaments even as he forged a career for himself in fighting. Frank Shamrock, the 1996 King of Pancrase, was pegged as a rising star in MMA, and Jackson stood to be his toughest test yet. But when the fight began, Jackson’s lightning shoot was embraced as warmly as a date with Torrie Wilson. Frank calmly rolled to his back, hiked his legs, and locked Kevin Jackson’s exposed right arm with an absolutely picture-perfect armbar. Jackson, for all his wrestling accumen, had no choice but to quit. Official time? 17 seconds. Wow.


So who’s next for the Shamrock express? How about a former captain of the Russian judo team and a master of the deadly art of Sambo? Igor Zinoviev shocked the world with his (very contraversial) victory over 272-0 Mario Sperry in the first Extreme Fighting tournament, and came into this match undefeated to face Frank Shamrock in Sham’s first UFC title defense. Can Zinoviev outlast the last Olympian to cross paths with Shamrock? Zinoviev throws a right hand lead, and Shamrock shoots, grabs a waistlock, and hurls Zinoviev to the ground with undescribable violence. Zinoviev is finished before Shamrock can even comprehend what just happened. The time? A mere 28 seconds. The aftermath? Zinoviev fractured his collarbone, dislocated his jaw, lost a tooth, and crushed a rib. Utterly awesome.




Come, let us travel to Bunka Gym, where the AJW vanguard attempt to humiliate the JWP stalwarts in their very own ring- if we hurry, we can make it in time for the JWP and AJW ring announcers announcing the main event in stereo! This has got to be the greatest women’s tag match ever. The match starts with four straight singles matches with a 5-minute time limit (“First Attack”) followed by everyone in the ring for an 8-women tag match lasting the rest of the hour. Most falls at the end wins. Non-stop action the entire hour with countless spots, brutal kicks, hardway juice from Kyoko and solar heat all the way from the pro-JWP crowd. Everything here is just so RIGHT, from the aforementioned stereo ring announcers to the scoreboards in the building tabulating the falls to even the first referee getting subbed on the fly when the tag portion starts. You can’t go wrong with this match under any circumstances whatsoever.


This match was for the UWFI title and had all the drama of a heavyweight title fight, from the national anthems to the intros by Lou Thez, this felt like a legitimate athletic contest. The coventional wisdom would tend to favor Vader striking and Takada being forced to take it to the mat, and the match starts with Vader scoring a knockdown, however Takada is unable to stymie the big man on the ground and decides to attempt to knock him out, scoring some knockdowns with brutal kicks and knees, however Vader is able to get the best of Takada in striking and Takada is forced to attempt a kneebar which Vader counters. Then it is back on their feet, as they exchange brutal strikes, until Vader is able to counter a Takada shoot with a powerbomb to knock Nobihiko silly. A couple of big punches later, Takada is down for the count. This match had great drama, stiff work, and wonderful psychology. Truly a classic battle.

EDDY GUERRERO vs. DEAN MALENKO : 2/3 Falls ECW farewell match

Dean and Eddy had lots of matches that were better than this, but from a crowd heat and respect stand point, I don’t think it can be equalled. This is one of the classiest moments in wrestling I have ever seen. The crowd was extremely vocal in this as both got their names cheered at the beginning of the match followed by very loud chants of “Please Don’t Go”. The match it self is good in that both guys counter stuff that they had been beaten with during the feud. Eddy takes the first fall after the two fight over a backslide with a cradle. Malenko quickly scores the second fall after countering an Eddy hop out of the corner into a double leg slam and then into the Texas Cloverleaf. Each guy kicks out of each others big moves and the match ends when Dean rolls up Eddy and bridges, but Eddy catches Dean’s arm so he ends in a draw. Both guys give their farewells, including Dean who’s character of the Shooter never spoke on camera until that moment. It’s a situation that I don’t think can be duplicated again.


Aja Kong shows why she will be remembered as the greatest monster heel of all time- as she takes a very green Dynamite Kansai and leads her to a quite beautiful and violent match. Aja is Flair as she masterfully sets up every spot for Kansai for the most impact while carrying the body of the match. The build is great as it starts with Aja stretching the fudge out of Dynamite and rubbing the punks face in it and Dynamite would shake loose and kick the holy crud out of Aja. From there it’s deulling eight counts as Dynamite hits a NASTY spinning kick to the face and Aja counters with a totally hellish Urican. From there, Kansai and Aja murdalize the heck out of each other with horrible finisher after horrible finisher as they do the Joshi Puroresu clinic on skull-crushing powermoves , Kansai crushing Aja’s head with kicks, Aja crushing Kansai’s face with Uricans and headbutts, nearfalls and super dangerous highspots. Absolutely gorgeous.


It is still one of my favorite matches. Some of the highlights are a surly Andre the Giant. A truly hot crowd and two guys beating the fudge out of each other. You have to watch to see Andre debate with the ref. That alone is worth price of admission. This was the match that made me realize that Andre could go when he wanted to. I also recommend that anytime you can see Stan Hansen punching someone right in the face you do so.


The best tag match ever, take it to the bank. What seperates this match from the other six million five star classics in All Japan is the good old fashinioned rudoism. This wasn’t a stoic battle of athletes warring for greatness this was Toshiaki hates Mitsiharu. The match really gets cooking in the first minute while in the midst of a lockup with Kobashi, Kawada runs over and kicks Misawa right in the face, then he gives him a look like “Fuck you and everything you stand for.” Kawada was feeling it tonight, every kick was as sharp and stiff as it gets, every suplex was more forceful, every facial expression stoically hate filled. The psychology of this match was perfect. Kawada and Taue decide to take out weak link pussboy Kobashi who has a bandaged thigh, so they lay waste to it, with kicks, kneedrops, kneebars and even Nodawizing Misawa on it. Then when Kobashi can’t walk, they focus on Misawa, Taue nodowa’s him off the ring apron to the floor, the crippled Kobashi covers Misawa up, but they drag his crying ass off. Then Kawada throws Misawa back into the ring, but Misawa rolls all the way to the floor, Kawada is steamed but he gets Misawa in and hits a powerbomb, 1..2.. kick out. Then Kobashi covers him up again but gets layed out with a nodowa-dangerous backdrop combo. But Misawa is up again laying out Taue with some elbows, but just as he shakes off the attack, Kawada catches him with a jump kick, in a perfect moment. Now the black and yellow shark smells blood he covers him but Misawa kicks out, Misawa then hits a last ditch elbow, but Kawada responds with jump kick … cover … two count, then he hits a brutal backdrop driver and a big powerbomb for Kawada’s first ever pin on Misawa. Then the best part the post match interview, Kawada just got the biggest win of his career, and he sounds like an NFL coach who just lost the first pre-season game “Well we have a couple weeks to the season starts and we have to work on our execution”. That is stoicism baby, that is what makes Kawada the king.


The match that had the double turn and the match that made Steve Austin. This match should have been the main even but instead we were tortured with a 20 minute Undertaker/Sid match. This match followed up the great match they had at the 1996 Survior Series. Austin does the Level 9 El Dandy blade job. (Even though he hit a gusher to start with, he blades again in the sharpshooter to make it even worse.) He never submits to the sharpshooter, instead assing out. Wins crowd over. Hart beats up helpless guy and fights win special ref Ken Shamrock to turn himself heel for his last moments in the WWF.

CACTUS JACK vs. TERRY FUNK- 8/20/95; IWA Death Match Tournament Finals

This match is a good Plasmatics song- all about superhuman depravity and superhuman hate (Plasmatics were also about superhuman lust- but they don’t have that here unless it’s latent or something. I deeply don’t want to know that much about myself.) Cactus is just wearing a mask of red goo as he goes from one amazingly sick bump to the next. Funk also rips his own flesh to pieces for your amusement on the way to the infamous Cactus ladder spot onto the barbed wire. That spot is so fucking sick. I triumph of the will and as close to performance art as YOU’ll ever wanna come to seeing. I don’t know if it’s wrestling, but it’s intense as shit and riveting. I just know about this shit sometimes. It’s such a rambling wreck of a match and it works because it’s all about the ugliness inside- and golly is this ALL ugly. Without any grace and charm, this match challenges your ideas of what you are actually watching when you watch professional wrestling. It’s tricked out, fucked up and totally nihilistic- everything good has gone horrible wrong and now you left in the bleak landscape of Cactus Jack and his bloated and hideous worldview of pain and death and hell. Yeah. This shit was REALLY great. The interviews were fucking great too.

RIC FLAIR vs. RICKY STEAMBOAT 2/3 Falls – 4/2/89

The last great old school match, sort of an end of an era, wrestling would move into shorter more highspot orientated matches, which began at this card with the entrance of the Great Muta into the NWA , this was possibly the greatest 70’s style match of all time. 53 minutes of classic mat wrestling, stiff chops and dramatic near falls. Flair and Steamboat put on an epic, on free TV which so thoroughly outclassed the Wrestlemania it was up against. Couple of the things that made this so great, during the restholds, they would just sit in a headlock and catch their wind, both men would be working for position. The end was classic with the double pin which provided a clean ending but kept the drama alive, Flair was at his prime, finally in with an athlete that could rival his skill on National TV with no outside Horseman interference, able to put on the match he always wanted to.

MASAHIRO CHONO vs. RICK RUDE – NEW JAPAN- Finals of the G1 Climax (1992)

When I first started compiling list of matches that I thought people should watch it was around the time of Rude’s death so I figured I would pick one of his best matches as a tribute. This, in my own opinion, is his best match. Chono and him rip it up for the vacated NWA Heavyweight title at Sumo Hall. Rude was in the best shape of his career and he really seemed to click with Chono. (I still haven’t figured out exactly how he went over Hashimoto and Sasaki but I’m not the booker.) The race to the STF is a prime focus of this match which means PSYCHOLOGY!!!! This is also a lot better than their rematch later on on American soil.


This is the better of the two matches which made Shawn Micheals. Micheals bumped even crazier during this match, and his babyface status made the bumping more credible from a psychological basis. This had tons of regular psychology for a gimmick match, with both men avoiding the others finisher, and with Ramon demolishing Micheals’ knee. Including the ring apron to the floor suplex with the leg hitting the guardrail, the ladder colapsing on the knee and kneebreaker across the ladder, the ending was a little convoluded, but the meat of the match is just rocking.

CHRIS BENOIT vs. THE GREAT SASUKE – Super J finals 1994:

It’s Chris Benoit vs. the Great Sasuke. Do you really need any more reason to watch this match? Well for all you Benoit marks who only just jumped on the bandwagon, go watch this match and you get to see all the SWANKY Benoit moves that he never performs in the states anymore (ie: the powerbomb, the springboard elbow, etc.) Sasuke’s knee isn’t shot to shit so he really rules it too. Especially on the BOSS Space Flying Tiger Drop. (Fuck you Shinsaki!). Sasuke does try to crack open his skull a few times, proving that he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Top it all off with Benoit celebrating the win in a hideous yellow jacket taken straight from Dean’s closet.


This is the one where TM backdrops Dynamite Kid over the guardrail- slaughtering all civilians in it’s wake. This TM/Dynamite series of matches have been analyzed, counteranalyzed and reanalyzed to death, so- of course- here I am kicking the corpse a bit. The thing I noticed about this match beyond the obvious (“GOLLY! THAT THERE BENOIT FELLA SURE DOES A LOT OF THINGS LIKE THAT DYNAMITE GUY- ONLY BETTER!”), the sublime (“BOY! THAT MISTERIO GUY STOLE STUFF FROM THAT TIGERMASK FELLA!”), and the mountain of analysis we can all steal from John D Williams (“WHY I- DEAN RASMUSSEN- THINK THAT SAYAMA REALLY BENEFITTED FROM THE FACT THAT DYNAMITE KID COULD SETTLE HIM DOWN AND SUPPLY THE PSYCHOLOGY TO THE MATCHES! I JUST THOUGHT OF THAT! REALLY! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO JOHN D WILLIAMS IS! WHY I’VE NEVER EVEN BEEN TO CLEVELAND…”), is that some of the most classic match ups in all of Junior Heavyweight wrestling copped whole sections of this match for their own classic feuds (and it isn’t even the Chris Benoit vs Lyger feud that I’m talking about). The first thing I notice is that huge sections of El Hijo del Santo vs Negro Casas borrow the whole mirroring of moves section from this match- and that would be five years after the fact. I should also mention that the mirroring of moves section in this is a lot larger than I remembered- or it may be that in the time between since first seeing this match in late 1994 and watching it twenty minutes ago, I’ve seen five great Juventud Guerrera vs Rey Misterio Jr match, eight or nine great Eddy Guerrerro vs Dean Malenko matches and three or four Pre-Nothing But Great Brawling Casas vs Santo matches- and all them seem to trace to this feud and this same sequence of moves- with Eddy and Malenko taking it to the most elaborate lengths. The more obvious things about this here match are that- MOTHER OF FUDGE!- is Tiger Mask fast as crap! And Dynamite was taking bumps in ways even back then in ways that you could pretty much tell he wasn’t gonna make it to the Nineties- which is the bittersweet side of this great match.

RIC FLAIR vs. TERRY FUNK – “I QUIT” Match – (WCW Clash of the Champions IX “New York Knockout” – 11/15/89)

This Clash of the Champions ruled the most. Not only did it have this match (which Meltzer gave 5 stars) but it had the Midnight Express vs. The Dynamic Dudes, a surprisingly good Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman match and The Steiners vs. Viscous/Spivey (More on this match later on)- all of this in front of a super juiced Troy, NY crowd. Flair and Funk beat the hell out of each other for awhile and the blow-off was this match. Lots of great brawling and all the while ref TommyYoung is sticking the microphone in each guys face. Truly this match was the most successful to use “I Quit” formula. Granted everyone knew Flair was going over but there was still big wads of drama and suspense and psychology and shit. Listen for Funk’s classic quote “Oh God. My leg is breaking!” when he is in the figure. The post-match is really hot to as Gary Hart turns on Funk and Muta, Sting and Luger all get involved.


This was their mask v. hair match which concluded the hottest feud of 1998, most of their matches over the years were technical wrestling masterpieces, this however was a brutal brawl, which was miles stiffer then any lucha match I have ever seen. Both guys beat the crap out of each other, working a style which is closer to UWFI then UWA. Casas spends alot of the match working on the knee, and at one point he even attempts mount, while Santo goes for a crossarmbreaker and eventually wins with it like he was El Hijo Del Yamazaki. The match did have some lucha matwork and a swank tope by Santo which sent Casas into the seats, but what really made this match was the force of the blows.

RYUMA GO vs. UCHU MAJIN SILVER X (Go Gundan)- 4/2/95

(note- Hi this is Dean. Ray would only review this match if we promised to put in the “greatest matches you need to see” column and being a man of my word….:)) This match gets on the list because it’s so bizarre you have to see this. On 4/2/95, there was a huge copromotional show run by one of the magazines in Japan. All the big promotions in Japan were on the show, NJPW, AJPW, AJW, FMW, M-Pro… all of them except for WAR who decided to run against this show. Anyway, I guess they added this match to the card to fill that open slot. Go’s gimmick was that he was the Interplanetary Champion and was fighting “aliens”. The aliens consist of two guys wearing alien masks and wearing overalls (I guess they’re intergalactic white trash. Their saucer must be up on blocks in the yard with a bunch of 10 eyed dogs living under the porch) and two guys in hockey masks, one with a Star of David like design, I guess a refugee from Mel Brook’s Jews in Space. To his credit, it seems like everyone’s into Go during his entrance and it seems like everyone’s into the spirit of the match. The guys who are taping the handheld seem to be laughing their asses off as well. The fans chant “baka!” which I believe means “stupid” at go and comes off like the old ECW “SHAH!” chant. X spends a lot of time adjecting his hockey mask and has intergalactic buddies interfere liberally. X goes after Go’s leg using the Crab Nebula Clover Leaf and and figure four. It starts getting really goofy when Go started headbutting X (who’s wearing a hockey mask mind you) and X’s is selling it. Go starts working submissions and the aliens start attacking him with some sort of object which looks suspiciously like a vibrator on the jumbotron. The match has more than it’s share of blown spots, but it I think it adds to charm of this. This one match in the dome probably had more people watching a Go Gundan match than if you added all the promotions house shows attendence together in the entire run of the company.




This match has one of those weird links to the place that held it. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, but I like to think of it as a place where you can go to Roberto Clemente Stadium and see Abdullah the Butcher throw Wildfire Tommy Rich’s head into a white RV and splattering blood against the quarter panel. It’s an anti-romanticized idea that wrestling can represent the violent side of the culture it comes out of- which is of course Bullcrap probably, but it’s fun to think. But that’s why I love this match. I’ve never been to Tijuana but I like to think that it is the jaded, corrupted, cynical part of Mexico that I always pictured in my head and that this match represents that image in my head. No beauty or grace or anything else that makes me love Lucha Libre above all- just AMAZING amounts of violence and blood. Los Destructores were the true old-school rudos along with Mirabunta, Mr Condor and the ilk and they BRING THE FUCKING NOISE to the Pandilleros and show them how to bleed like MEN.


So much of the spectacular idiocy of World Championship Wrestling exists outside the confines of a wrestling ring. Thus I can’t recommend The Desperados search for Stan Hansen, Hulk Hogan’s trip to the Dungeon of Doom, OZ, the Ding Dongs, The Shockmaster, The Speedboating bomb tossing dwarf, Robocop, Chucky, The Ultimate Warrior’s reflection, The Black Scorpion, the attack dogs, the Giant falling off the roof of the Cobo Arena and much more. However, the Chamber of Horrors match does a pretty good job of integrating the imbecility of WCW into one match. We got El Gigante, the Refer-eye camera, the electric chair with the switch that keeps falling down, we have anonymous masked men popping out of caskets and attacking wrestlers, we have the ghouls covered in baby powder carrying the stretcher, we have the mini cage being lowered slowly onto wrestlers, you’ve got it all. On the flip side you have Mick Foley, a man who has made his entire career on turning chicken shit into chicken salad, making the decision to save this monstrosity on his own. He does a El Dandyesque blade job, takes a dozen big bumps (including getting a wood casket lid dumped on his head) and basically turns an embarrassing spectacle into a worthwhile match.


Reviewed in DVDVR 91- I’m not going to see this ever again if I can help it. Suffice to say it’s so bad it’s a must-see- the “Robot Monster” of wrestling matches.


This match created the Cult Of Barry Houston. Lyger- being the best wrestling on the face of the earth- decides to smoke ever choade-smoking fat lazy WCW chump doggin it at the Disney taping by having a four star match with a random scrub named Barry Houston. Lyger basically says, “Do absolutely EVERYTHING you know how to do well and then I’ll kill you.” Houston- realizing that he is in the ring with Jushin motherfucking Thunder Lyger- FEELS IT, seizes his MOMENT with greatness and wrestles five leagues over his head and hits everything fabulously- even hitting an Asai moonsault waaaay before anyone else whipped it out in WCW. Lyger sells like motherfucking Jushin Lyger and makes this the best match ever to appear on THE PRO. A true forerunner of the great, cold. lost forever WORLDWIDE match. Houston went on to have memorable WorldWide classics against Psicosis and the FUCKING AWESOME Finlay ass-stomp that sealed Houston’s fate forever as the great lost American cruiserweight.


Horowitz wins a match and stars “The Winner” gimmick, complete with marketing of a $49.95 video tape of the victory.


This is the show that takes place entirely at Korakuen Hall on 2/12/95, a Heisei Ishingun/NJ doubleheader. Show starts with Shiro Koshinaka inviting some big kid named Hiroyoshi Tenzan into the group. Tenzan responds by beating the crap out of him, leading to a challenge from then-HI member Ohara. Tenzan nukes Ohara the whole way and pins him, then continues to beat on him afterwards. Kabuki, Goto and Kosh attack him in turn, which leads Masa Saito, Yatsu and Hirata to make the save and start *their* 2/3 falls match with the HI members (mercifully clipped). HI get the win, then proceed to gang up 7-1 on Saito after he spazzes out (more on this later). Tenzan and Masa Chono (!) make the save for Saito, only to immediately turn on him. Cut to later that afternoon, where Choshu arrives at the Hall and Kosh gets all up in his area for not being at the HI show that afternoon. All of this leads into the main-event of Chono/Tenzan/Hiro Saito vs. Choshu/ Hashimoto/ Hirata, which is a really great brawl but doesn’t go long enough to make the first list. The story here is that Choshu beats the fudge out of Tenzan while everyone else is brawling on the floor, but Chono sneaks in from behind and hits the Yakuza kick on him. This allows Tenzan to hit the top-rope headbutt and get the GIGANTIC upset pin on Choshu, and everyone in the building goes absolutely berzerk. It gets even better from there as Hash kicks the crap out of Tenzan all over the building until Sabu (!!!) shows up and helps Tenzan put Hash through a table. One last cut to the locker room afterwards, where Choshu, Hash and Hase are filled with shame and throw chairs at the cameramen. Just a wild show with some crazy booking- I was watching this with Rev Ray and we must’ve marked out a dozen times. The important thing is that the booking is effective as Tenzan is instantly over as a player after getting the pin on Choshu. MASA SAITO GOES NUTZOID: After the six-man tag match on the HI show, Saito gets pissed off and proceeds to BODYSLAM everyone in HI. Ray and I went through several lifetimes worth of “Bull of The Woods” jokes after this one was over.


This match gets on here for what was long time refered to as “The Spot” as Chris Benoit kicks up the heat to turn this into the three way feud as he runs in post match and powerbombs Sabu off a table on the top rope onto Rocco Rock who’s laid out across a table.


The great thing about WAR was that they weren’t afraid to fly all these guys over, corral them all in a wrestling ring and say, “HEY! You guys should wrestle round the ring and stuff!” Jimmy Snuka. Perry Saturn. Mil Mascaras. Bob Bachlund. Hector Garza. John Kronus. Ah- why the hell not. Of course, a match with a line-up as disparate and fucked as this- three over-the-hill guys against three (then) crazy high-flyers must assuredly……….. RULE! Go figure. Snuka works his ass off for the last time in his career. Backlund lays the foundation for his freaky BattlARTS run four years later. Perry Saturn DIES like a MAN. WAR frickin’ ruled and it ruled because of weird shit like this. Mil Mascaras is suitably corpse-like.


Snow & Unabomb cut an interview prior to the match where they pretend to be the Rock’n Roll Express. Truly hilarious as the future Kane even does the Robert Gibson wandering eye.

SUGAR SATO vs YOSHIKO TAMURA- JUNIOR ALL-STAR 1997 WCW Cruiserweight title (10/4/97)

Tamura, who was nearly killed by Aja Kong once (oops! Go watch that match too!), proves once again that she should have thrown in with Chigusa instead of going to Neo Ladies and Kyoko Inoue (who had THREE GREAT MATCHES against Lioness Aska. OOPS! Go see those MATCHES! Especially their last one where Aska does the double stomp off the ringpost through the table as Kyoko bumps her way back into your heart.) because she has had her best matches against GAEA gals (like the AAAW tag title match with Yumi Fukawa against Satomura and Kato (Ooops! Go see that match too!)). Sugar hadn’t grown into her womanlyness and was still all lil and spunky- as opposed to now where she is hellish, violent and deathdealing. Tamura is quite the little worker lost in a crappy promotion. See all of her non-Neo matches in GAEA and ARSION because they rock. Plus this was for the WCW Cruiserweight belt which had a good little title history for such a shlammed together little belt (Shiina had her only good match in a match for the WCW Cruiserweight title- against Uematsu. Ahh, you can live without seeing THAT probably.)


‘Nuff said.


One of the GREAT approximations of Southern booking as TEIOH and TMIV have a fabulous blood-drenched Texas streetfight but with some of the coolest and inventive moves in pro style. MEN’S definately peaked as a worker during this period and was a great living embodiment of Southern Heel filtered through puroresu workrate- plus he topped it off with a blade addiction that would make Chigusa wince. Then he became lost in true wrestling nonsense and was never the same.

THE HOLLYWOOD BLONDS perform “A Flair for the Old”.

When WCW got Ric Flair back, the decided to spend a lot of money on a set so Ric Flair could host his own little interview segment. The segments were always horrible. So Brian Pillman and Steve Austin do a mock version of the segment with Pillman doning a grey wig and acting really old and with a fat old maid to be their version of “Fifi the maid”. What’s really sad is that segment was done over 5 years ago.


One of the coolest matches that noone has ever seen. Orihara was ALMOST this good against Ohtani in the Super Junior this year and Yasuraoka will be one of the best footnotes in wrestling history- as he had one of the best ignored title runs in Japanese independent wrestling history as he carried EVERYBODY- including washed up and useless Orihara here- to great matches while holding the WAR Independent Junior Heavyweight belt. Yasuraoka’s sad, sad premature retirement is devastating when you actually saw what this young man was capable of producing in the ring.

SID VICIOUS vs THE NIGHTSTALKER (Adam Bomb) – WCW Clash of the Champions XIII. 11/20/91

The most laughably horrible match in the history of big time US wrestling. Two useless lummoxes try NOTHING but somehow blow EVERYTHING. The fact that both of these two still get pushes prove the US wrestling fan are dumber than a bag of hammers and the contempt that US wrestling promoters have for their audience is bottomless. You may now throw up directly on your shoes.


If you really want to laugh so hard that you stuff flies out of your nose- try watching THIS match. It’s like watching a blind ground sloth try to mate with a Buick Regal. Amazingly hideous- like a big festering sore on your leg that you can’t stop pic… I’ll stop now.


Antonio Pena pulls this one right out of American Booking 101. Blue Demon Sr. and Rey Mendoza are being honored in the ring for lifetime service or somesuch when Pierroth hits the ring, rips up the ancient Demon’s proclamation and roughs him up. It’s the first time this angle has ever been done in Mexico, and to say the fans are upset at Pierroth for this would be a gross understatement. In fact, they’re about to riot until the ensuing match starts. Pierroth sets himself up for the run of his life based on this, drawing heat to the point where folks are rioting up and down Mexico wherever he appears.


One of an endless stream of good little matches from the little promotion that could. Sonoko and Sugar eschew pro-style for the most part and get into a modified BattlARTSian slugfest. Kato brings the kicks, Sugar brings the powerbombs so it’s ALLL good. The fact that this is setting up a kick ass feud a few years from now is reason enough to see it so you can say you were in on the groundfloor.

KEVIN SULLIVAN vs. JIMMY GARVIN- WCW- Prince of Darkness Match:

The first and worst of the “Prince of Darkness” matches. You can’t complain about bad gimmick matches until you have suffered through this bad boy. (bad being the operative word). You can find it on the Crockett Cup 1988. Sadly, I think both guys workrates improved. Garvin and Sullivan grope around thing ring. The crowd and Baby Doll try to direct Garvin in the right direction. Punch. Kick. Wander. (This is worse than the Rick Martel/Jake Roberts one, if that gives you any frame of reference.) Oh, I almost forgot. Rick Steiner, idiot, is Kevin Sullivan’s “eyes” for the match.


This was the first match that I ever saw that showed what FMW was truly capable of- really great All Japan style matches. Oya takes the then suck-ass Hayabusa by the hand and shows him how to get his skull crushed correctly. Ending is SUPERHOT when Hisakatsu Ooya does Backdrop Driver after Backdrop Driver to kill the fudge out of Lamprey Boy. TOP DRAWER~!

DAMIAN 666 vs. GRAN NANIWA: WAR Super J Cup ’95:

This gets on the tape because the match is a whole lot of fun, not really for the back story of Naniwa refusing to put over Damian who’s dream it was fight Lyger. For those of you who’ve never seen Damian in Japan, part of the gimmick is that he does impersonations of other wrestlers. So in the course of a match, he’ll shout out someone’s name and start doing their trade mark moves. It’s a fun match and Damian runs through his impersonations of Choshyu, Tenryu, Onita, Muta, Kudo, Fuyuki, Shinzaki and so on.


Japanese Indie wrestling in all of it’s seedy, slimy, grody, repellent glory- as the crappy walk hand-in-hand with the FABULOUS! Asian Cougar and Akinori Tsukioka are the Mike Quackenbush and Shane Helms of Japan- as they are so head and shoulders above everybody else in the ring yet are still indie (actually Shane is all WCW now). Cougar is fucking crazy and Akinori is more of the total package- in that he flies high but kicks real hard and is really fast on the mat. Takeru has a great outfit but is kinda stinky. La Ning doesn’t even have a great outfit. Mendoza is suitably corpse-like.

MIKEY WHIPWRECK vs. THE SANDMAN: Loser gets 10 lashes match. Early 1995, Florida. ECW.

The angle was set up when Mikey Whipwreck won a battle royal to get a shot at the Sandman. Whipwreck wins the match, but gets jumped right away by Sandman and is pinned easily. Whipwreck cuts a promo where he promises he can be just as big a scumbag as the Sandman and tries to smoke a cigarette and ups the antee that he’ll take 10 lashes if he loses. Whipwreck shows some fire, but still gets pinned. The angle is pretty cool because just about everyone in the promotion comes out to try to save Mikey from taking the lashes, even offering to take the lashes themselves, but Sandman just continues as Woman is practically having an orgasm with every hit. Styles is outraged during this and as Woman taunts Mikey, he points out that “she’s old enough to be his mother!” This would launch the feud that would lead to Whipwreck eventually winning the belt. This was the angle that got them thrown off of TV in Florida. This is also followed by a truly great horrible interview by Marty Jannetty where he says “My Man” about 80 times as he puts over Whipwreck and challenges the Sandman.

TRIPLE H vs. CACTUS JACK : WWF, Madison Square Garden RAW ’97 :

The match starts out with Mick Foley in his Dude Love persona on the screen cutting a promo and then is joined by Mankind as the two talk to each other about the upcoming match, Mankind says he knows someone who’ll take the Falls Count Anywhere match with Triple H… and it turns out to be Cactus Jack. It’s great for all three of Foley’s gimmicks appearing at once and the pop that Jack gets from the MSG audience as he pretty much wrecks Helmsley with a piledriver through a table on the ramp.




Scott Morris is a ninja. From Texas. Pat Smith is an ass kicker. Smith slams ninja boy Morris to the mat and unleashes a dozen power punches to the middle of Morris’ non-masked mug, breaking his cheerbone and loosening some teeth on the way to a one minute victory. If only Morris had his nunchaku and throwing stars instead of his worthless fighting skills and baby soft hands, things might have been different. NAHHHHHH!


US Army Ranger Stott delivers one of the classic interview in UFC history, shilling his ‘Ranger Intensive Program’ (R.I.P.) fighting technique. “RIP rules, and all others rest in peace!”, the bulbous jarhead brags before the fight. Kerr, a monsterous 270lb freestyle wrestler with a neck like a redwood, is unimpressed. He grabs the Ranger and fells him with a single kneestrike, knocking him unconcious in 20 seconds. RIP rules! RIP rules!


The dullest fight in UFC history, these two boobs with 2 UFC tournament titles and a couple of ‘Superfight’ wins between them, do nothing but plod around the Octagon and look bored for 20 minutes. I had to fumigate my VCR after watching this turd. How Ken Shamrock can still brag about being a great fighter after participating in this fiasco is beyond me.


The PRIDE fighting series from Japan is the Mount Everest of fighting, with top names and big paydays for all involved. Dan Severn and Kimo Leopaldo have the most listless grappling match to ever disgrace the Yakuza in attendance. Severn has no offense, and sits in the guard. Kimo has no technique, and pants like a dog in a sauna for 20 minutes while the crowd streams to the urinals in droves.


Gary Goodridge goes nuts! Well, he goes FOR the nuts anyways, applying the dreaded scrotum claw to poor Pedro not once but twice, because they felt so nice! Lemme get this straight, Goodridge – you’re 6’3, 270lb with arms like radial tires, and the only thing you can do to beat this smaller guy with an unimpressive physique is grab his knutsack? Goodridge should be fighting women in the L-1 Vale Tudo after this disgrace.


David v Goliath was the theme for the night, and the opening match featured the 215lb Frye against the 400lb local favorite. Ramierez claimed to be undefeated in pre-match interviews. Frye closes the distance and lands a single *jab* that send the blubbery Ramierez to the mat, where he wacks his head on the Octagon fence and renders himself helpless and unconcious. Total time, 18 seconds. Yesterday he was the toughest man in his town. Tomorrow, he’s jeered by children and challenged to fight by cripples and the blind.


Mark Hall is 180lbs soaking wet, a stuttering, stammering fighter with limited athletic skills. Koji Kitao is a 390lb former sumo Yokozuna grand champion. Kitao rushes Hall and starts flailing away with chops and slaps. Hall weathers the assault and throws *1* lunging punch that hits Kitao squarely between his beady eyes, breaking his nose and prompting a flood of blood that forces the referee to stop the fight. Hall celebrates like he’s won the lottery, while Kitao winces and asks the ringside physician about the location of any local buffets.


Varelans, a worthless 6’8 330lb slug with nothing but size on his side, grabs the equally clueless Kimo and hurls him to the ground. For 10 minutes, Varelans punches, slaps, pokes, prods, pinches, tickles, strokes, and palpates Kimo from every possible angle, but Kimo refuses to submit. Varelans finally gets so gassed that Kimo rolls his fat ass over and mount him, finishing the fight with a few well-placed strikes. Both men bloody, both men are totally gassed, and both men suck like a discount hooker, but at least Kimo got the bigger paycheck that night. Maybe he’ll get more tattoos!


A DVDVR fave, the 6’9 Hess grouges Anderson’s eyes half-a-dozen times, kicks him in the groin, and generally acts like the toughest kid in 1st grade. Anderson’s eyes are both swelled shut after the match as a result of Hess’ own self-developed style, which he dubbs ‘SAFTA’, the Scientific Agressive Fighting Technique of America, or, alternately, the Stiff-Armed Flailing Tactics of an Asshole. Take your pick.


You’ve probably seen at least a smidgen of this fiasco, but in case you haven’t, Manny Yarborough is billed as ‘The Largest Athlete in the World’ for packing an astounding 660lbs of gelatinous bulk on his 6’8 frame. The North American Sumo Superheavyweight champion by virtue of a listless win at a sumo tournament (baosho) over a man who was outweighed by more than 300lbs, Yarborough has a physique that incorporates the most disgusting aspects of the bodies of Abdullah the Butcher, The Headhunters, Dusty Rhodes, and Marlon Brando. Hackney is a Kempo karate stylist, the popular karate franchise popularized by Ed Parker in the US. Manny the Meatloaf plods forward like Paul Wight on barbiturates, shrugging off leg kicks and a wild straight-armed poleaxe from the 6’1 230lb Hackney. ‘Big Manny The Buffet Killer’ prepares to move in for the kill, grabbing the smaller karateka with his greasy mitts and driving him to the Octagon fence, which amazingly bursts open at the door and allows Hackney to flee to ringside. On closer inspection, it appears that *someone* actually jerked the door open. If this were Sumo, the match would be over, but this ain’t Sumo, and if you’ve seen Yarborough’s bloated arse in a ‘wahashi’ (the dreaded Sumo thong), you’d be thankful for small favors. The match restarts and Hackney hurls another wild straight-armed poleaxe, this time catching the huge oaf on the button and sending him reeling on to his well-padded buttocks! Hackney moves in for the kill, as Yarborough has fallen, and is too damn fat to get up! Immobilized on his knees like a grounded ocean tanker full of cottage cheese, Yarborough tries to cover his head as Hackney throws every girlish punch his karate teachings have given him. After absorbing somewhere in the range of 20 unanswered punches to the head, the fight is stopped. Hackney withdraws from the tournament, however, because he broke his hand punching the 660lb goon on the top of the skull.


Joe Son was Kimo’s manger in UFC3 and a member of some sort of ‘beat the shit out of people for Jesus’ dojo. You might have caught his appearance in ‘Austin Powers’ as ‘Random Task’. Son stands 5’3 and weighs 220lbs, so he’s built exactly like a US Postal Service mailbox. Naturally, Joe Son represents his own mystical school of fighting, a technique so deadly it can only go by one name – JoeSondo! Feel the power! Feel the awesome technique! Feel your testicles being beaten like a speed bag on the ground by Keith Hackney! Yep, the match goes to the ground where Hackney becomes ‘Wack-a-sackney’ and lands 6 or 7 punches straight to the groin! Joe Son taps out, not from the pain of bruised testes, but from a ridiculous ‘goozle’ choke from Hackney on the ground. Hey kids, in case you didn’t know it, when a fighter claims to have invented his own system of fighting, you can bet dollars to donuts that he’s going to suck eggs. Joe Son, meet Jack Shit! I hear you two know about the same amount of martial arts!




For those who are wondering how good LaParka really is- past the cult of the Church Of LaParka, the amazingly great outfits, the hat, etc- see LaParka carry fricking Misterioso to the lucha mat classic. LaParka is so fast on the mat in this match- and his knowledge of lucha matwork is an aspect of his game that he seems to have lost as he has gained weight and popularity. Misterioso acquits himself well and doesn’t ruin the match like he has been always wont to do.

DYNAMIC DUDES vs. THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS: Clash of the Champions IX (11/15/89)

This was great just for the crowd. Jim Cornette, Eaton and Lane had been working as babyfaces since Dangerously, Rose and Condrey had shown up and jumped them. After jobbing pretty much around the horn, the Midnights started getting upset when Jim was sort of lending support to the Dudes. This led to the match at New York Knock Out. Was Jim Cornette going leave his old team? They certainly teased it, but in the course of the match, Cornette ends up whacking one of the Dudes with it… which garners a HUGE ASS pop from the New York crowd who can’t stand the Dynamic Dudes. Funny as the supposed heel move makes the Express and Corny babyfaces of the night in New York.


This was the match that totally sold me on Chris Benoit. Benoit hits a high-angle powerbomb on Mikey that makes Mikey’s head bounce twenty inches off the mat. I think I watched it 50 times. I was in awe. Smiley was sporting REALLY tiny pants. This was also the first time I ever saw Malenko’s Military Press Rib-breaker and I was also suitably stoked. FRICKIN’ TWENTY INCHES! Higher than Ohtani’s head bounced in the WCW Cruiserweight finals. All I could say was “FUCK!”


Finlay beats the pop tarts off the crappy John Cusak look alike including pointing to his nose, before caving it in with a knee drop.


Honma is the BOMNA~! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Honma is the heir apparent to to a couple of folks- Cactus Jack and Minoru Tanaka. He’s great on the mat working for a rear naked choke and he’s also great taking a powerbomb through a barbed-wire encrusted table. This is deeply into the realm of the latter- as this is one of the better death matches you’ll see in Big Japan because Honma is FUCKING CRAZY. Like Yamakawa in 1997 CRAZY. Five buckets of blood and 4 the Rusty Bedsprings Sickness scale.


Bizarre match that appeared to be a partial shoot, Ogawa representing UFO, demolishes Hashimoto, beating him brutally which sets off a riot between UFO and New Japan (a riot highlighted by Yasuda punching UFO boys in the face) Ogawa acts the part of the perfect dick, by putting his arms out and doing the Bugsy McGraw airplane. It is unclear whether this was a shoot or not, but the beating and the riot make it compelling television.


One of the last gasps from the HORRENDOUSLY booked UWFi vs NEW JAPAN “feud”. Quite a minor match at the time, though I always dug it. Now it’s quite the Murderer’s Row of current Puroresu ass-stompers as Takaiwa is no-selling his sorry ass to the top of the NJ juniors, Ohtani is back on track to being one of the best Juniors ever and REALLY showed his range in this match (he and Sakuraba had a minor shootstyle materpiece at Sky-Diving J to follow this up), Ishikawa is now Kendo Ka Shin and is being as inexplicably pushed as Takaiwa, Nagata is the future of the Heavyweight division having positioned himself for a SuperKoshinaka type role but was feigning juniordom here, Kanehara is the only fun- other than Volk Han- in RINGS these days, Kakihara will be utilized correctly in All Japan any second now, and- oh yeah- this was back when Yamamoto was cool, as opposed to just being a comical victim to Valentine Overeem. Nagata fucking rules it in this match, as does Ishikawa. As does Kanehara- who should have been stolen and made into IWGP champion by now.

INVADER III vs. MANNY FERNANDEZ -WWC- sometime in 1987 maybe:

We have a regular Puerto Rican match going on here, until Manny goes up for a top rope kneedrop, he must have landed wrong because Invader starts vomiting blood, painting the ring mats and his mask red. Grotesque!


This match will make snot fly out of your nose from laughing so much. Johnny Saint once got Charlemagne in a Half-Nelson and he doing this really unlikely, totally goofball Euromatwork that would make Dr Cerebro say, “You gotta be fucking kidding me.” Saint systemically does this STUFF to and around the Robin Hood-esque bedecked Yakushiji who looks like Jodie Foster in the Silence Of The Lambs when she visits Hannibal Lechter in jail. Quite possibly, Johnny Saint was pulling a rib (as they say in THE BUSINESS!) MILLION BILLION STARS.


If this was ten minutes longer, it would be way up on the top of the list. This is the duel edge sword- in that Jaguar works circles around the over little punks after Chigusa and Lioness try to beat their matriarchs to death early on. Jaguar responds by busting out the skull-busting moes that would revolutionize the entire artform of professional wrestling. The other edge of the sword is that Noriyo Tateno has a BENATARystique that is totally awe-inspiring. It’s true rednecky hardness and beauty and the I- need-a-sammich thinness that few can achieve. She’s a good little worker too.


The stiffest comedy match of all time. Rayo works insanely stiff on Apollo, giving him a SATANIC chop that had an entire room of people falling out of their chairs from the sheer brutality of it. Easily the coolest Jalisco match ever. Eagle-eyed viewers shouldn’t have any problems spotting Dick Togo and Shoichi Funaki checking things out in the crowd.


Yumi Fukawa went from schoolgirl-fetish midnight choker postergirl to ass-stomper deluxe with her ascension to ARSION- but the roots of that go back to this match where she showed that outside of confines of All Japan Women she was a little gal who could go like a wolverine. EMI was a joke pretty much before this time, but this was one of the first matches where her skill finally caught up with her mystique and verve. This was a hot match that years beyond the two doing it and it was a good match from two young women with something to prove.


Still my favorite mixed tag match. There is that great blend of wrestling and comedy that MPro used to be famous for. The guys wrestle the girls (even though Great Sasuke refuses to until his ass starts getting beat). Fukuoka crushes some ribs (which was the first time I saw that. Mental Note: Moonsault Stomp. Greatest Move Ever.) Hey, a girl in clown outfit gets beaten up. What’s not to love?


This is in here because we must always mention everytime Sasuke breaks his skull- and golly does he BREAK HIS MIND in this one- as a springboard hurricanrana goes hideously wrong. This one made his noggin all lop-sided and caused him to have delusions that making the WWF a partner would be smarter move than cozying up with Lyger and New Japan.


This is one of my guilty pleasure matches. I really like this match as it the Steiners could still wrestle (you know during the period when Scott still had tesitcles.) Sid back from one of his softball sabticals and the Skyscrapers are all angry. Rick takes Spivey and puts him right on his head with a German suplex. Scott collapses Sid’s lung with the 360 slam that he no longer does. Nitron shows up. So does Doom. Even the Road Warriors make an appearance. Jim Ross and Gordon Solie mark out at the brawl and a good time was had by all.


Hotta isn’t Aja Kong so this isn’t great or trascendent or psychologically flawless, but Hotta feels the urge to beat the crap out of Kansai and Kansai gives as good as she gets. Kinda shows the limitations of Hotta and Kansai but also shows that they can really take a queen-sized beating for your pleasure and you find that pleasing. Yesss…


Magic Man hypnotises Shinzaki and while he’s under Magic Man dances around and does assorted goofy stuff, never thinking to actually PIN Shinzaki. When Jinsei is awakened, he proceeds to kill Magic Man. Horrible match, but if you’re going to subject yourself to a Magic Man match, this the one for it’s surreal qualities.


This is the match where babyface Dick Murdoch jumps top heel Dibiase and posts him because he’s jealous at the fact that Dibiase got the NWA title shot against Flair, and Dibiase bleeds to the point where we’d be talking about the Dibiase scale instead of the Muta scale if more folks hadn’t seen that Muta/Hase match. Bill Watts then gives an all-time speech on how Dibiase’s a MAN AMONG MEN for still taking this match, comparing it to the Roberto Duran “no mas” incident, while at the same time warning people with weak stomachs that this sucker’s gonna get real bloody if Ted’s bandage comes off. And hey! There goes the bandage! Murdoch comes out at the end of the match and cements the double-turn by giving Ted a brainbuster on the CONCRETE floor back when finishers really were finishers, so Ted is out of action for several weeks (read: “Hey Ted, Uncle Shohei on line 2!”). As ugly a human being as Watts may be in real life, you have to give the Devil his due for perfect booking like this. See this one if you’ve seen Bret-Austin from WM13 and check out the theft ^H^H^H^H^H^H^similarities.

JAGUAR YOKOTA vs. GALACTICA- ALL JAPAN WOMEN- 1983? hair vs. mask match:

We REALLY can’t get enough Jaguar matches on this list because you can basically choose pretty much any match of the collective mega-cyber-matchlist of the universe and any match will be good to great. This match is memorable because it transformed Jaguar from GREAT GREAT technical wrestler to ULTRAVIXEN of the Joshi Puroresu midnight choker contingent. Galactica and Monster “Bertha Faye” Ripper cheat like mofos- as Galactica puts up her SWANK and HYPER-EVIL mask against Jaguar Yokota’s pedestrian, 1979 Barbara Mandrellesque hairdo. Jaguar fights like a MOTHER but luckily for all of us, Galactica cheats all the way to victory. As they cut her hair, the dowdy Jaguar TRANSFORMS. The NEW WAVE coiffe she ends up with brings out the brazen, saucy ass-stomper that makes every man’s heart skip a beat. WOO-HOO!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the first 100 DVDVRs so much fun to write- all the great people who sent us tapes, made constructive criticism, e-mailed support, or pointed out that maybe Tommy Dreamer isn’t very good. Here’s hoping the next hundred are just as much fun. We love you all.
six fists in the face of wrestling
Something that ‘ll make you do wrong… make you do right.
-Rev. Al Green