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6/14/91 - Steiners vs. Hase/Chono (WCW) ****

 

This is for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, which illustrates one of my favorite things about WCW.  They weren't too proud to have their guys wrestle other great guys from around the world.  They did a lot of stupid shit that was counterproductive to their talent, but having them trade international championships made them seem like legit big deals.  This match is essentially a bombfest, and I love Steiner bombfests.  There is all types of fun shit in this match like Chono kicking Rick Steiner in the head so hard it breaks his headgear.  The Steiners hit a nasty ass powerbomb elbow drop combo, that almost kills Chono.  Rick and Scott also hit about 15 of the stiffest clotheslines I've ever seen that don't feature Jumbo and Kikuchi.  It's not all perfect though, because there is a spot where Chono has Rick Steiner in a STF and Scott tries to break it up by coming off the top rope.  Scott lands about 2 feet short and it just looks ridiculous.  This is probably a little overrated at ****, but not by much.  This is just too short, and doesn't have much of a build, so I wouldn't rate it that high.

 

9/4/91 - Misawa/Kawada vs. Tsuruta/Taue (AJPW) ****

 

This is a tag match containing two of the most hotly contested feuds I've ever witnessed.  Taue and Kawada start off and Taue just hauls of and slaps the shit out of Kawada, just to let him know that he thinks he's a bitch.  I can tell already that this match is going to be awesome.  These guys do so much little stuff that means so much.  Early on Misawa misses a dropkick, but instead of doing that jump in the air and do a flat back bump he actually throws a dropkick.  It seems stupid, but it adds credibility to what is going on in the match.  Jumbo grabs the rope, and Misawa throws the kick where his face would have been if he hadn't.  Jumbo reacts to it like he just dodged a bullet, and sequence that took less than 3 seconds illustrates the amount of detail these guys put into every match.  Another thing that is subtle but helps build the match, the characters, and the overall feud is how Jumbo reacts every time Kawada gets tagged in.  Jumbo's character is the old school, bad ass, Ace of the company, but for about a second or two when Kawada comes in the match he backs up a step or two every single time.  Jumbo sells the sense of danger that Kawada is quickly building.  He doesn't back down from him, but he makes sure he squares up and is ready to fight every time Misawa makes that tag.   It is like you can see that the fight or flight reflex kicks in before Jumbo chooses to fight.  This match has so much going for it.  The crowd is hot, these guys clearly hate each other, and all of them work their asses off.  Maybe I'm crazy, but I loved this match.  **** seems low to me, but this is my kind of match. 

 

Oyaji asked me why I didn't think the Hart vs. Perfect match from my last post was over ****, and I think this match is a good counterpoint for that match.   Hart vs. Perfect was a really good match with an emotional level that ranged from a 1 to 3.  This was a really good match with an emotional level that started at a 3 and ended on a 8 or 9.  There is not really much wrong with Hart vs. Perfect, but it is a match that was a hotly contested match over a championship between two rivals.  Misawa/Kawada vs. Tsuruta/Taue was a hotly contested match over a championship between two sets of enemies.  The difference in the matches is that Hart vs. Pefect was the story of a man who wanted to be Intercontinental Champion, and had to beat Perfect to reach his goal.  Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue was the story of four guys who wanted to vanquish their enemies.  Both teams decided they were going to go home with those titles if they had to destroy their opponent.  Hart vs. Perfect was a story that could have been told by any two wrestlers who had the talent to put on that match.  The AJPW match was unique to those four guys, who have been fighting tooth and nail for almost two whole years and have built up a level of hatred that saturates the atmosphere of the match.  If you were to look at the structures of the two matches, I can see why someone would like Hart vs. Perfect more than Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue, but for my taste I'll take the latter. 

 

4/18/91 - Tsuruta vs. Misawa (AJPW) ****

 

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but all of these guys have bad ass entrance music.  I think Kobashi has the best of the AJPW themes, but Misawa's is right behind it.  The feeling out period of this match has a diving elbow from the apron to the floor, so I think it's safe to say that these guys know what their opponent brings to the table.  The difference between this feud and the Kawada vs. Taue feud is that these guys hate each other, but they try to keep it clean before their tempers flare up.  Kawada and Taue's tempers stay flared up.  Misawa's great and all, but he might want to stop pissing off Jumbo.  Misawa holds his own, but I don't think he has 1/10 of Jumbo's surliness.  He is one of the best wrestlers of all time, but I've never fully bought into his mean streak.  He strikes me as the kid in class who wouldn't run from a fight, but Jumbo seems like a guy who would run into a burning building to kick someone's ass.  I'm willing to bet that the first person to owe Jumbo money was the last person who ever owed Jumbo money.  I have a feeling that the word would get around pretty quick that Jumbo doesn't play those type of games.  This match is really good, but all of their matches are really good.  This isn't the best of their matches, but then again not every match can be *****.

 

2/26/91 - Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Tsuruta/Fuchi (AJPW) ****

 

This is joined in progress with Fuchi kicking the shit out of poor Kikuchi.  Fuchi tosses him to the outside only to have Jumbo put him on a table and smashing him across the chest with a chair.  Fuchi hits him with a piledriver on the floor, and Kikuchi continues to be the AJPW whipping boy.  Kobashi gets the hot tag, and he kills Fuchi for a bit before Jumbo comes in to deliver one of those world renown ass kickings.  This is basically Jumbo, the man who kicks everyone's ass vs. the two guys who get their asses kicked by everyone.  I've seen more competitive squash matches, but that didn't really bother me.  I like Kobashi as much as the next guy, but I also understand that his role in 1991 was to be the sympathetic babyface.  They let him hit his big spots, but the reason he's as over as he is at this point is because the Jumbo Tsurutas of the world don't take it easy on him.  In order for him to get his character over, he has to be able to withstand twice the ass whooping of the average human being.  He needs to never give up and keep fighting no matter how bad the ass whooping gets, and he's amazing in the role.  This is too short to really rate, but the story of the match is apparent even in this clipped to hell version. 

 

7/26/91 - Taue vs. Kobashi (AJPW) ****

 

Much to my distress, Kobashi comes out to a vastly subpar entrance theme than I'm used to.  His "Grand Sword" theme is one of the best wrestler entrance themes of all time.  It just makes him sound like a conquering hero, this one sounds like generic wrestler #43(According to Wiki he started using Grand Sword in 1998, which is right around the time where I learned about Kenta Kobashi).  A wrestler's theme is a hugely underrated factor in their overall presentation, and this theme just doesn't fit the character he's trying to portray.  I've heard Jumbo described as the best possible combination of touring NWA World Champion and AJPW Heavyweight.  I think Kobashi is the best possible combination of AJPW Heavyweight, blowjob babyface and an Indy MOVEZ wrestler.  He has the fighting spirit, he has the babyface fire, and he is always trying to figure out some complicated way to do simple spots.  While everyone else is throwing big strikes and suplexes, Kobashi is doing rolling cradles and double arm DDTs.  He is the All Japan version of a spot monkey.  With that said, he is unbelievably great at working all of those spots organically into his matches.  He isn't just making up these moves to get the fans to chant "HOLY SHIT," he is adding new twists to moves in the hope that they can lead to victory.  I realize I've said nothing about this match, but while the work is good there isn't really much to talk about here.  It is a match between two really good workers that ends in a time limit draw right after Taue cuts off Kobashi in the middle of what looked like his finishing sequence.  It made both guys look good, while keeping their heat.  It's good, but I would have liked to see a finish.

 

6/1/91 - Kawada vs. Williams (AJPW) ****

 

These two guys are ass whoopings waiting to happen, and it doesn't take long before they start kicking the shit out of each other.  This match is worked at an unorthodox pace where they start at a sprint, do some mat work, brawl for a bit, go back to mat work, hit some big moves, etc.  The match is essentially a bombfest that takes enough time to let the smoke clear to see if they hit their target.  This is the kind of match that the Steiner Brothers think that they work, but they don't let their moves breathe enough to make them meaningful.  Kawada works from underneath for most of this match trying to overcome the larger gaijin.  Kawada is a rare wrestler who can come off as the baddest assed dude in the world, but always sells for his opponents in a way that makes him look like he's on the verge of death.  Randy Savage and Ric Flair were able to turn those parts of their characters on and off, but Kawada is the only one I can think of who actually plays both roles at the exact same time.  There is not a second in this match where you thought that Steve Williams was out of the woods.  He beat Kawada literally from ring post to ring post, and I wouldn't have been surprised at any point if Kawada was to comeback and kill Dr. Death with a kick or powerbomb.  He's building the presence of Dangerous K, that he carries for the rest of his career.  Watching these iconic characters grow from their infancy is one of my favorite parts of this project.

 

4/30/91 - Liger vs. Honaga (NJPW) ****

 

When the book is written on Jr. Heavyweight wrestling the two longest chapters better be on Jushin Thunder Liger and Rey Mysterio Jr.  There are other names that need to be included, but those two guys, in my opinion, are the two wrestlers who mastered the Jr. Heavyweight style.  I'm sure there will be plenty of Rey Mysterio matches for me to wax poetic over, but those are a few years away.  If Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask invented the wheel, Liger created the combustion engine.  He isn't the first great Jr. Heavyweight, but his greatness caused the biggest movement.  Seeing Muta in WCW as a kid made me curious about Japanese wrestling, but Liger is the one who made me interested in Japanese wrestling.  Everything about him was incredible to me, he looked cool, did moves I had never seen, and had great matches.  He is the Godfather of Jr. Heavyweight wrestling, and like James Brown everything that happened after him bears his mark.  This is the final of the 1991 Best of the Super Jr. and it touches every base of Jr. Heavyweight style.  It has some matwork, some dives, and some rock solid, well executed wrestling.  This was really fun and right around the **** mark.

 

2/23/91 - Kobashi/Misawa vs. Williams/Gordy (AJPW) ****

 

This is a classic Japanese hero vs. gaijin monster match.  Williams and Gordy are there usual rough and tumble selves, which allows Kobashi and Misawa to gain sympathy from the crowd.  This is an above average match that has a pretty hot finish, but a part of me thinks that this is underwhelming for the talent involved.  These two teams at this point in their careers were capable of amazing heights, and this was about 3/4 of their peak.  This is going to sound pretentious, but this is a **** match that I wasn't very impressed with.  If these guys wrestled 10 matches over 10 days in 1991, I would bet this wouldn't be in their top 5.  It seems like this is the match these four guys could have if they dropped out of the sky into a wrestling ring with no real preparation.  I understand that I'm grading on a fairly ridiculous curve, but if they just wrestled a match without botching half their moves you would get a match this good.

 

4/18/91 - Kroffat vs. Kobashi (AJPW) ****

 

There is something ironic about Dan Kroffat, a white guy, playing the karate guy in Japan.  I don't know if there is a history between these two, but Kobashi uncharacteristically slaps Kroffat on a break early in this match.  It becomes fairly heated right off the bat, and eventually they even start throwing punches at each other.   I liked this match, but this isn't **** in the least bit.  This is essentially a showcase for two young guys who haven't quite put everything together yet.  They are both pretty good at this point, but neither guy is great.  Kobashi in 1991 is like Georges St. Pierre when he fought Matt Hughes the first time.  You can see the potential for something special, but he just doesn't have the experience to reach the next level.  Kroffat was fine, but his strikes while flashy, looked weak.  He would have been better off throwing basic looking strikes that looked like they hurt than these spinning attacks that had no impact.  This is enjoyable, but this is probably the worst match on the list so far.

 

So I'm coming up to the end of 1991, and I've noticed there are a couple of notable matches that either Meltzer didn't rank or somehow ranked under 4 stars.  If there are matches that you've noticed are missing from 1991 let me know and I'll try to add them to the next list of reviews.  The matches that I have already added are Mutoh vs. Chono from 8/11 and Hogan vs. Tenryu from 12/12.  Remember I'm only trying to review matches ranked 4 stars and higher, and are available on the WWE Network, NJPW World, YouTube, or *sigh* Daily Motion(eventually I'll probably need to find other means to watch these matches, but as of right now that is how I'm doing it).

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Looking at this collection of Meltzer rated 4 star matches and seeing what he rates 4 stars today in NJPW, it would seem inflation is not something that just concerns currency. There is so much quality stuff here that blows a lot of the flash over substance stuff in New Japan (not all of it is that way, but boy does Dave seem to adore the movez! Hence his preference for Kobashi back in the day). Which kind of comes to the reason why I was never as big of a Kobashi fan as most... His introduction of the 1001 shiny new moves really forced Misawa and eventually Kawada (who struck me as more reluctant to join the arms race) to continually raise the stakes to the point where it was no longer enough to just have a match. You had to more or less stake your opponent, cut off their head and all of their limbs, then set the pieces on fire to make sure you could get that 3 count. The style became less and less sustainable and more and more irresponsible and you have to wonder how much of that played a part in both the downfall of Japanese wrestling in the early to late noughties and the death of Misawa. I understand that the stiff strikes likely did just as much if not more damage to his body as the head drops, but gotdayum... it got so bad by '97 and only got worse.

 

Also, I totally get your point with Hart/Perfect coming off as rather generic to the intricacies of the storytelling and character relations of the Oudou tag matches. Nobody has ever done a better job of establishing characters, establishing a hierarchy of rank, establishing character feuds, and evolving these conventions over time than All Japan did from the late '80s to the mid '90s. WWF, who had its own conventions and understandings/rasslin' psychology, was going for something entirely different and something that would appeal more to the masses of a very different audience. I don't think the story is nearly as strong in Bret/Perfect '91 in relation to the better matches from the Jumbo/Misawa feud but not many are. I'd have to watch both the SummerSlam '91 match and the Survivor Series '93 matches again to confirm my thoughts, but I feel like the latter tells a better story than the former and is the better match in general but doesn't have the important place in WWF history.

 

Oh, and speaking of the AJPW dynamics, Fuchi bullying and stretching Kikuchi only to get his ass kicked by Kikuchi's "big brothers" was always fucking awesome. Although, to be fair to Fooch, he got some really great lickings in on Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi too. Pretty sure he busted Kobashi's nose up in one match.

 

God, I cannot agree more with your criticism of Steiner Bros matches in the Kawada/Williams feud. They rarely told a story or built up to the big moves but instead just dropped guys on their heads in an  unchained series of events. Incredible athletes with great repertoires but lacking in the psychological and emotional understanding of rassling.

 

And Kawada's selling and ability to get himself over and make himself look good in a loss is what made the sometimes questionable booking throughout the Misawa feud far less apparent. I think that's why he's my favourite of the AJPW guys not named Stan Hansen. His selling, his vulnerability, his determination, and his ability to get over in a loss separates him from Kobashi and Misawa in my opinion. Kobashi did all of those things, but in a flashier manner. I always felt way more connected to Kawada's character and abilities. 

 

Going back, I noticed you reviewed the second Liger/Sano match but, from what I can see, not the first classic. Thankfully, it's on NJPW World (here!) and is awesome. Have you seen this bad boy? It's definitely a set-up to the second match but it's still sooooo good. I wonder how different things would've been should Sano have stuck around instead of working for various worked shoot promotions in the early '90s. He was such a bad ass and could more than keep up with Liger. He could've mentored the likes of Kanemoto and then Otani, too. As if they needed to be bigger dickheads than they were.

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Oh, and speaking of the AJPW dynamics, Fuchi bullying and stretching Kikuchi only to get his ass kicked by Kikuchi's "big brothers" was always fucking awesome. Although, to be fair to Fooch, he got some really great lickings in on Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi too. Pretty sure he busted Kobashi's nose up in one match.

 

Yep, I can't remember if it was a six-man or regular tag but he busted him up bad, and then of course kept working the nose like the bastard he is. Pretty awesome. 

 

Liger/Sano was a trilogy right? There were two in '89 and the last in '90 if I recall correctly. 

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This is as good a thread as any to put this in.

 

Could've done with more than a couple of seconds of Dan Skinner as Finlay.

 

Can't say it made me laugh, but I'm going to draw attention to that cast because it really is extraordinary.

 

Jonathan Ryland plays as Big Daddy

Mackenzie Crook plays as Glorious George

Stewart Wright plays as Mr. Kendo Nagasaki

Patrick Baladi plays as Rollerball Rocco

Kris Marshall plays as The Kid

Kevin Eldon plays as Mick McManus

Justin Edwards plays as Giant Haystacks

Jordan Long plays a Stocky Referee

Miranda Hart plays Klondyke Kate

Dan Renton Skinner plays as Fit Finlay

Manjinder Virk plays asPrincess

Waen Shepherd plays Exotic Adrian Street

Susan Earl plays asMizz Linda

Carolyn Pertwee plays as Mrs. Walton

Peter Geeves plays as The Almighty Chang

David Schaal plays as Les Kellet

Stephen Evans plays a Mallen-Streaked Referee

Tim Plester plays as Dale Martin II

Martin Trenaman plays as a Mini-Cab Controller

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This is my first by request review.  Oyaji mentioned this as a match I should check out after my last post so I figured I'd give it a shot.  My goal with this project is to see as much great wrestling as possible, so if anyone has a suggestion of a match that isn't on Meltzer's list I'll give it a watch.  My only criteria is that it has to be 4 stars or better and available on YouTube, WWE Network, NJPW World, or anywhere else wrestling can be watched online.  Oh, and I'm doing these in order by year so please don't recommend anything from 2005, when I'm just about to start 1992, but anything before 1992 is fair game.

 

Summer Fight Series July 13, 1989 the two countries Kokugikan IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship bout Beast God Liger(Google Translate) vs. Naoki Sano

 

This starts with one of those choreographed stalemate spots that you see in every indy match, but this one is done at double speed and looked really good.  I've seen their 1990 match about 15 times, but I've never seen this one.  These two have some insane chemistry and they're willing to do anything to have a good match.  Liger is great as usual, but fucking Sano was also incredible.  He takes a vertical suplex to the floor from the apron, and he doesn't bitch out on it either.  He takes a full back bump like he is in the ring.  Liger then follows up with a fucking swanton to the floor.  Sano has an arsenal of suplexes that rivals Taz, and unlike Taz Sano's doesn't look like he's going to cripple Liger.  The finish of this match is a draw, and unlike most draws it kind of works.  Instead of coming off like kissing your sister, it feels like these two guys are equals and the only way for this feud to end is their mutual destruction.  I have to admit though that as it was happening I thought they were mistiming and botching moves.  Upon the ending you realize that isn't the case at all.  They were both going for high risk offense that ended up hurting both guys until eventually neither man could answer the 10 count.  It was basically both guys throwing grenades at each other's feet until they both blew up.  It was a pretty cool finish of a really good match.  I'm going to go ****1/4 for this one because it was a tad too short to pull fully pull off the finish credibly.  If they would have had 5 more minutes for each guy to hit a couple more big moves I would have fully bought the finish, but it was still damn good.

 

11/16/91 - Misawa/Kawada vs. Hansen/Spivey (AJPW) ****

 

Stan Hansen is in full ass kicker mode in this one, he's mean, surly, and fucking great.  The first five minutes of this is Hansen jumping Misawa during his entrance, piledriving Kawada on the floor, and hitting Kawada with a chair.  He mauls Misawa and Kawada like a pair of hikers that ran across a hungry bear.  There is a point in the match where Spivey puts Kawada in a boston crab, and Hansen casually walks in and starts stomping on Kawada's head.  The ref forces him back to the outside only for him to come back with a chair and slam it across Kawada's back.  Misawa is fed up and comes in and Hansen just chucks the chair at him.  If Misawa and Kawada are the X-men Hansen is the Juggernaut.  There is just nothing they can do to stop him once he gets going.  Eventually they realize that they have to try to take advantage of Spivey when they can get Hansen on the outside.  Misawa and Kawada eventually get the win with a double DDT and a Misawa splash from the top rope.  This is a super fun match, but I think **** may be a tad high. 

 

Keiji Muto vs. Masa Chono (NJPW G-1 Climax 08/11/91)

 

Apparently Dave Meltzer has never rated this match, or he somehow rated it under ****, but don't worry, I'm here to pick up the slack.  This match was ranked the #9 New Japan match of the 1990s(#1 heavyweight match) by some internet losers on some message board called Death Valley Driver.  All jokes aside, this is really good.  This is absolutely the best Chono match I've ever seen, and it's most likely the best Muto match as well.  Chono is probably someone I severely underrate, but this is the only singles match of his that ever really grabbed me.  I got into Japanese wrestling in the late 90s by watching NJPW jrs. and AJPW heavyweights.  Chono at the time looked like the coolest motherfucker on the planet, but his matches just weren't up to par with everything else I was watching.  Hopefully I get to see a few more Chono matches on this list so I can give him an honest evaluation.  This match is incredible, it is one of those "take a peek into our future" matches.  These were the guys that NJPW was banking on to carry them through the 1990s and they put on a match that made the fans believe that their fandom was in good hands.  This is an epic match that builds to a crescendo over 30 minutes.  This is all action, but the pacing is perfect.  They hit a lot of big spots, but they let everything breath and make an impact on the audience.  This is a match that would probably get over in NJPW today, as it is kind of paced like the Tanahashi/Okada matches.  The strength of those matches is how they build to the finish.  They tease their finishers throughout, counter each other's biggest moves, and the match ends when they're exhausted and they've pulled out all of the stops until one of the guys finds an opening to hit their biggest move.  This seems like the father to the current NJPW main event style, and I have no idea how this didn't make Meltzer's 4* match list.  I'd give this ****3/4, and I could probably be swayed to give it the full *****.  I think the best way I can describe it is that it feels special.  The atmosphere of the match makes it seem like these are the two best wrestlers in the world fighting to see who is the best.  It is in the running for match of the year.

 

2/23/91 - Taue/Ogawa vs. Kawada/Kikuchi (AJPW) ****

 

This is joined in progress, and to the surprise of no one Kikuchi is already getting his ass kicked.  Kawada doesn't waste any time saving him and kicking ass though, as he body slams Taue into the first row and then press slams Kikuchi over the top rope onto him.  After a Taue lariat Ogawa hits a snap suplex on Kawada on the floor and then Taue grabs Kikuchi and chucks him onto Kawada.  That might be the best sequence I've ever seen.  It was amazing, Kikuchi has been a revelation to me.  He is the unsung hero in these matches, and at this point in their careers he may be better than Kenta Kobashi.  They kind of fill the same role in these matches, but Kikuchi is just better at it.  He takes an ass kicking like no one's business and is willing to do anything to put his opponent's offense over.  This is probably a tad bit underrated at ****, I'd bump it to ****1/4, but then again I only watched the last 8 minutes or so.

 

Hulk Hogan vs. Genichiro Tenryu (SWS 12/12/91)

 

This is a match I've heard about a few times over the years, but this is the first time I'm watching it.  The reputation of Hogan turning into a super worker in Japan is something I've been hearing about for years, but I've only watched a few of his Japanese matches.  Just as I type that he starts the match with a jujigatame, and starts chain wrestling.  I wouldn't call him the smoothest chain wrestler, but I can't think of anyone his size that could do any better.  I'm about 7 minutes into this match, and it has been 98% chain wrestling and the only strike has been a chop from Tenryu.  Hogan is essentially a completely different person as soon as he crosses over the international date line.  Never mind here we go with the right hands and eye rakes.  So far this match is worked at a very deliberate pace, Hogan has opened up with the strikes but they are still being used to ground Tenryu in order to lock in a rear chin lock or a boston crab.  Hogan is firmly in control until he tries to get fancy and go for a flying knee(seriously, Hogan's offense is 85% different so far) and hurts his knee.  Much like Hogan Tenryu is always a heel even when he is a face and he takes a chair to Hogan's knee.  Tenryu takes over and hits a couple enziguris and a powerbomb, only to have Hogan comeback hit the leg drop, an axe bomber, and a fucking enziguri of his own(who the fuck is this guy?).  They trade offense a couple of times again only for Hogan to hit another enziguri, leg drop, and axe bomber for the win.  This was crazy.  I feel like Hogan owes his American fans an apology for having the same match over and over again.  I really want to know what he could have done with Savage and Flair if he worked this style more in the states.  This is about ***1/2 , but worth seeking out if you want to see Hogan wrestle a completely different style. 

 

Vader vs. Stan Hansen (New Japan 2/10/90 - Super Fight) 

 

Once again the good folks at DVDVR have a different opinion of this match than Dave Meltzer.  This ranked #19 on their best New Japan matches of the 1990s and I figure I need to give it a look.  For the record I've seen this match multiple times, and I have it on DVD.  This is that match, and I'm sure most of you know what I mean by that(probably not the match I should have watched while eating).  Vader and Hansen are the roughest, toughest, baddest motherfucking gaijin of all time and their worked strikes are essentially full on haymakers.  If you like your wrestling to be full of psychology, or submissions, or wrestling moves, or anything other than ass kicking this probably isn't for you.  Hansen and Vader basically assault each other this entire match.  Don't believe me, at some point in this match Hansen hits Vader so hard that he almost loses an eye.  The psychology of this match is essentially, we're going to punch each other until one of us is unconscious.  This is pure, uncut, hoss on hoss violence.  I honestly don't know how much of the selling in this match is selling, and how much is the natural reaction of getting punched in the face by someone as large as Hansen or Vader.  This is a hard match to rate, because this is a match that would probably suck if two other people did the exact same thing.  Vader and Hansen are thankfully not just two other people.  This is probably a ****1/2 match for me.  This is like watching a YouTube video of a lion fighting a hyena.  There really isn't any art to it, but you can't turn away.  It is just two huge guys trying to take each other out in the most primal way possible.

 

Keiji Mutoh/Masa Chono vs. Hiroshi Hase/Kensuke Sasaki (New Japan 11/1/90 - IWGP Tag Titles)

 

Another match from the DVDVR top 20 New Japan Matches of the 90s that didn't get rated **** by Dave Meltzer.  That guy is slacking.  When it comes to mullets there are the Bobby Eatons and Ricky Mortons of the world and there is Kensuke Sasaki.  Sasaki makes that mullet work in a way that no one in the history of mullets has made a mullet work.  It is a work of art, his barber is the Leonardo Di Vinci of hair cuttery.  Sasaki has a mullet that isn't in the least bit funny, it actually kind of looks good.  Does anyone have any idea why Mutoh comes to the ring in a Cornell University t-shirt?  That seems like the most random shirt a Japanese wrestler could wear to the ring.  How many Japanese people have even heard of Cornell?  Oh the match?  It is the best NJPW heavyweight tag match that I've ever seen.  My favorite spot in the match is Sasaki slapping the shit out of Chono and telling the referee to administer a 10 count…off of an open hand slap.  Sasaki's pimp hand, much like his mullet game, is way strong.  My second favorite spot is Hase and Sasaki hitting a powerplex.  This is ****1/2, and is better than those Steiner brothers matches from around the same time.  Those matches with the Steiners are a whole lot of fun, but are essentially spotfests.  Those matches are great for what they are, showcases so fans from Japan and America can see their favorites wrestle against a team they've never really seen before.  This match is a match between two rival teams in a match that means the world to both teams.  I'm much more fond of matches that mean something in the grand scheme of things, than fun showcases.  Find this if you can, it's well worth it. 

 

Aja Kong & Bison Kimura vs. Manami Toyota & Esther Moreno (AJW 04/29/91)

 

So, I've been searching the internet for random matches from 1991 to round out this list and this is one that came up multiple times.  I've seen Aja Kong before, but the other three are completely new to me.  When I looked this match up on YouTube, I expected Bison Kimura to be a monster heel like Aja Kong or Bull Nakano, but she's actually kind of cute.  She is going to need more than a Viking helmet and bad make up to make me root against her.  Her entrance attire has the exact opposite effect on me than it is supposed to have, because now I think she is awesome and I wish all the success in the world to her.  She wears a Viking helmet and a big ass horned cape that makes her look like a combo of a minotaur and Conan the barbarian.  This is like a Rockers vs. Demolition match on fast forward.  The larger heel team uses power moves to ground the smaller faces, and the faces fight back with speed and flying.  Seriously, when the faces are in control this match moves at about 200 mph in every direction at the same time.  It is just non-stop action.  The first fall goes to the faces after a sequence of about 9,347 high flying moves.  In the second fall Kong hits Moreno in the face with a trash can and she blades.  This is about a year too early to rank on the Muta Scale of blade jobs, but this is about an 8.5.  Bison finished it with a twisting splash.  The third fall is the most competitive as both teams have pretty decent control segments.  Then there is a dive sequence featuring a couple planchas and an asai fucking moonsault.  The heels take this match after about 30 minutes with a top rope sit out powerbomb.  I don't watch much joshi, but this was super fun.  I'd give this about ****1/4, but then again I probably missed half of what happened.  I don't know if joshi is for me, but I have to say I'm intrigued. 

 

I've reached the end of 1991, so it is time for some awards.

 

Wrestler of the year:  Jumbo Tsuruta, he was the best at everything in 1991, and I don't think anyone was close.  Misawa was right with him in 1990, but he didn't seem to have as many fun matches in 1991.  Kawada would be #2 for me, because he was just so damn fun throughout the year.  #3 is probably Taue, because…

 

Feud of the year:  Kawada vs. Taue, these guys were just pissed off and ready to beat each other's asses from beginning to end.  The feud between Misawa and Jumbo was great, but Kawada and Taue hated everything about each other.  It seemed like they would have killed each other if that is what it took to win, but there just happened to be a referee there to stop them. 

Match of the Year:  For the second year in a row AJPW has a six man tag that blew everything else out of the water.  Tsuruta/Taue/Fuchi vs. Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi from April 20th was everything you could possibly want out of a wrestling match.  They put on so many six man tags I got tired of talking about them, but there was a reason they kept booking them…because they all worked.  This is just the best of them all. 

 

Most Overrated/Underrated:  Kenta Kobashi is eventually one of the best workers of all time, but here in 1991 he is good not great.  Tsuyoshi Kikuchi on the other hand is great at this point.  He is always designated to receive the ass whooping, and he is excellent at it. 

 

Biggest Surprise:  The joshi matches that were on this list were so much fun.  Whether it was Bull Nakano doing leg drops from the top of the cage or Esther Moreno doing asai moonsaults, they always did something that surprised the hell out of me.

 

Tag Team of the Year:  Steve Williams and Terry Gordy were in the most fun matches.  Misawa and Kawada were also outstanding, but the gaijins seemed to have good matches with a wider variety of opponents. 

 

Promotion of the Year:  All Japan Pro Wrestling had the Wrestler of the Year, Match of the Year, Feud of the Year, and Tag Team of the Year.  You don't really get better than that.

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I keep forgetting to mention that my friend found this for me at a local Goodwill-type place:

 

steve-austin-greatest-hits-3326.jpg?0

 

 

 

VHS Retail Release Date: 1999 

Running Time: 78 min. 
Promotion: United States Wrestling Association (USWA) 
Match Dates: Mid-1990 
Venue: The Sportatorium 
City: Dallas, TX 

Matches: 

 

1. -"Come As You Are" Match (Street Fight Rules): 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin w/ Percy Pringle III (This took place a few months before he went to WWF as Paul Bearer.) 

2. -Tag Team Match: 
Chico Torres & Frogman LeBlanc vs. "Missouri Tiger" Jeff Gaylord & "Stunning" Steve Austin w/ General Skandor Akbar 

3. -Tag Team Match: 
"Superstar" Bill Dundee & "Gorgeous" Gary Young vs. "Flamboyant" Eric Embry & "Stunning" Steve Austin w/ Tojo Yamamoto 

4. -6 Man Tag Team Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & "Maniac" Matt Borne & Eric Embry 
vs. 
Devastation, Inc.: "Missouri Tiger" Jeff Gaylord & Sheik Braddock & "Stunning" Steve Austin w/General Skandor Akbar 

5. -History of the Adams-Austin teacher vs. student feud in Steve's second year as a Professional Wrestler! 

6. -Mixed Tag Team Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & Toni Adams vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin & Jeannie Clark (Chris Adams' ex-wife!) 

7. -Mixed Tag Team Re-Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & Toni Adams vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin & Jeannie Clark (Chris Adams' ex-wife!) 

 

Pretty cool, random find. For someone who's supposed to be green Austin doesn't come off like it. After I finish up I'll throw on some extra thoughts.

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So I'm knee deep into 1992 on the Meltzer list and I figured that maybe someone may want to watch some of the matches I review.  So starting in 1992 I'm creating a Google doc with the list and links to all the matches I was able to find online.  To be honest, I didn't just do this out of the kindness of my heart.  I was hoping that someone would notice one of the many matches that don't have links and steer me in the direction of these missing matches.  Well here is the link.

 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mQEPDOO_SEkMjt1dwqVKrNh69cOXJXQJwYDcQJaKJF8/edit?usp=sharing

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So my journey through the Meltzer List has brought me to 1992, and I've decided to change things up a little bit.  Instead of going from top to bottom by star rating, I've decided that I'm going to go by date.  I think this will make these posts better for a couple reasons.  First of all, going from best to worst makes the end of each year's list drag a little, because I know that I've already seen the best of that year.  Second, watching matches in order allows me to see them with a certain level of context.  I'm not watching all the angles and interviews going into these matches, and odds are I wouldn't understand most of them any way, but hopefully watching these matches in the order they happened will give me more insight on the storylines of these matches. 

 

1/4/92 - Steiners vs. Muta/Sting (NJPW) ****1/4

 

Muta and Scott start, but not before Muta spews the ever so rare blue mist.  If the matches of 1992 were put onto one show, this may very well be the ideal opener.  It is four good, well known workers who have a lot of flashy moves, but ultimately doesn't serve any real purpose on the card but to be a fun action packed match.  I swear that Rick and Scott hit every single move they know on Muta with no real rhyme or reason.  They just throw him around the ring with every suplex and slam they can think of.  There are a couple really cool spots though, like Rick catching Muta mid handspring elbow and German suplexing him.  I'd say this is a step down from the Steiner matches in 1991 in terms of match structure, but this is a step up in terms of "Oh shit did you see that fucking suplex."  So, I'd say ****1/4 is just about right if you grade this on the "I know this is going to be a spotfest" curve.

 

1/10/92 - Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Tsuruta/Ogawa/Fuchi (AJPW) ****1/2

 

This is joined in progress…It is only fair that we start this year with the feud that has supplied the most quality matches over the last two years.  Sadly, this will be the last year we get to see any Jumbo matches, but because he's Jumbo he's in 14 ****+ matches in 1992.  For those that don't know, he was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and was never really the same wrestler, but he did wrestle from time to time until 1999.  This match is wrestled in the classic southern tag style with the heels isolating Kobashi, working over his knee and basically being bastards.  Once again Fuchi is amazing as the smarmy fuckhead.  The heat segment of this match starts when Fuchi runs in on Kobashi, Kobashi smacks the shit out of him and then when Kobashi turns around Fuchi takes out his knee.  This 15 seconds basically established Fuchi as the world's biggest bitch and Kobashi as the world's most sympathetic babyface.  That is the beauty of this series.  Everyone has their role, everyone plays their role well, and every role plays well with all the other roles.  This match is ****1/2, but this is one of the worst matches in the series…yeah, this series is really that good.  The funny thing about this series is that I could see how someone could like each one more than another, but for me this one didn't tell as good of a story in the ring as some of the others.  The heat segment was the highlight here, but Kobashi immediately stopped selling the knee when he made the hot tag.  That is essentially the biggest flaw in this match, but it was still damn good.

 

1/21/92 - Tsuruta vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****

 

When it comes to Japanese heavyweight wrestlers my two favorites are Jumbo Tsuruta and Toshiaki Kawada.  They embody everything I want in wrestling.  I love how Jumbo, a man who doesn't have to show respect to anyone, respects the danger that comes from being in the ring with Kawada.  He isn't scared, and he doesn't necessarily respect Kawada as a man, but he knows that Kawada isn't a wrestler he can take lightly.  When they are in a neutral position he would never just haul off and slap Kawada, but if he has him against the ropes where Kawada is clearly at a disadvantage he won't hesitate to slap the shit out of him.  Kawada takes advantage of this by wrestling like someone who you might be a little apprehensive about slapping.  When Kawada is on offense he has a plan and is almost inhumanely efficient about executing that plan.  He came into this match with the plan to take out Jumbo's legs and he attacks Jumbo's legs every single chance he gets.  Jumbo's offense on the other hand is that of a man who is out to prove that he is still the ultimate bad ass.  When he has Kawada down he tries to dominate him like a grown ass man would to some teenage punk who decided it was a good idea to pick a fight with him.  Kawada, a man who is not going to be dominated, decides to pull out all the stops and goes as far as hitting a plancha and an elbow from the apron to the floor.  At this point Kawada believes he can beat the legendary champion, and maybe, just maybe, Jumbo believes it too.  They both go into "fuck this, I'm not losing," mode and that is when the ass kicking really starts.  Kawada locks on multiple stretch plums and almost has Jumbo beat.  Kawada's enthusiasm gets the best of him, and goes to the well once too often allowing Jumbo to take over and finish him with a series of big moves including two nasty back drops.  This was great, I'd personally rate it above ****, but I'm also a mark for both of these guys. 

 

1/21/92 - Windham/Dustin/Simmons vs. Eaton/Zbyszko/Anderson ****

 

This match includes three people in the conversation of best tag worker of all time, and three others who have been parts of damn good tag teams.  If you put any combination of these six guys into a tag team within a year the absolute worst you would get is pretty damn good.  Seriously, if they tried to have a bad match they couldn't have done it.  This show and match is basically WCW in a nutshell.  Half of this show is filled with meaningless matches full of guys who were either over the hill or green as grass.  The top two matches have the 10 guys in the company who they should have been building the company around, and somehow this match only gets 10 minutes.  These six guys should have had twice that amount of time instead of having PN News wrestle DDP 5 years before he was any good.  These guys had 10 minutes and somehow everyone came out looking like a million bucks.  This is **** and they didn't even get enough time to put together a match that had an in ring story.  The fact that WCW stayed in business until 2001 is a miracle.

 

1/24/92 - Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Tsuruta/Taue/Fuchi (AJPW) ****1/2

 

Our old friends are back and this time they go for almost an hour.  As a contrast to the last match, this is what happens when a wrestling company trusts their talent.  WCW had 6 elite tag workers in a match and gave them less than 10 minutes, All Japan has 6 elite tag workers and gave them an hour.  The last match was essentially a series of fun spots that was fun to watch but didn't tell a story.  This is a story highlighted by fun spots.  The thing that strikes me very early in this match is that Kobashi seems to be wrestling with more confidence.  He was the clear #3 babyface in previous matches.  He was always designated to be the one who was going to be face in peril and take most of the heels offense.  He hasn't overtaken Misawa and Kawada, but he's closed the gap enough that he isn't going to be the designated whipping boy.  Everyone else seems to have turned the aggression up as well.  This rivalry is entering its third year and it is very clear that they hate each other's guts.  There is a spot where Fuchi comes in to break up a pin and Kawada comes in and just brutalizes him with about 75 elbows in the corner.  Kawada also seems to have gone from #2 babyface to #1b.   The match with Jumbo from a couple of days prior seems to have raised his confidence level to the point that he thinks he is Jumbo's equal.  Misawa is the face in peril for most of this match, and the heels do some of the nastiest leg work you'll ever see on him.  Fuchi is seemingly from the Japanese branch of the Anderson family.  He knows how to work over a body part in a way that is just plain vicious.  The end of this match is beautifully chaotic as usual with Kobashi taking all of the heels big moves and kicking out as Kawada and Misawa keep getting cut off trying to save him.  Taue eventually stops him with a chokeslam and we have another ****1/2 match in the books.  If I had to choose between this match and the January 10th match I'd probably pick this one.  They are around the same level as far as quality goes, but this one seemed to have a little more aggression and Misawa sold the knee work better. 

 

2/22/92 - Kawada/Kikuchi vs. Furnas/Kroffat (AJPW) ****1/2

 

Kroffat and Furnas jump Kawada and Kikuchi before the bell.  Furnas military press slams Kikuchi to the floor, and Kikuchi once again proves that he is willing to die for our entertainment.  Kroffat not to be outdone throws Kawada to the floor and hits him with a tiger driver.  Kawada sells the tiger driver like he's dead.  He's doing that sell where he tries to stand up, but slowly collapses and falls on his ass.  Kawada eventually gets the hot tag to Kikuchi, but it doesn't take long for Kroffat and Furnas beat the hell out of him too.  Furnas and Kroffat have some awesome offense.  Furnas uses a liontamer and does a pretty nasty lateral drop belly to belly.  Kroffat has the world's most vicious cobra clutch and a running powerbomb.  They also hit a top rope version of the Hart attack.  I know we like to make fun of dudes who do a lot of movez, but I've never really been one to hate on guys with diverse movesets if they make the moves count.  These guys do all types of interesting moves, but all of them are used to try to put their opponents away.  Everything they do looks painful and that makes all of the near falls seem like they could have legitimately been the end of the match.  The story of this match is that Furnas and Kroffat are trying to end this match as soon as possible.  I don't know if they had some booty lined up or what, but they were trying to get the hell out of there.  Kawada and Kikuchi were playing from behind for the entire match and it seemed like Kroffat and Furnas were one move away from winning.  So all the crazy moves make sense.  This is probably slightly overrated at ****1/2, I think I'd rank it around ****.

 

2/27/92 - Tsuruta vs. Kobashi (AJPW) ****

 

This is basically youth and enthusiasm vs. age and experience.  If this was a football game Kobashi would be trying to throw the ball 50 times and win with big plays.  Jumbo would just run the ball down your throat until you wore down and gave up.  The beauty of Kobashi's style is that you never really know what you might see.  You know exactly what you're getting when you get into the ring with Jumbo, but that does not mean you have a better chance at stopping it.  This is a match where you see Kobashi hitting big moves like bulldogs from the apron to the floor, and Jumbo trying to break Kobashi's sternum with kitchen sink knees to the bread basket.  It is a fun matchup of styles. because if Kobashi can hit one of those homerun moves he could realistically beat Jumbo.  The problem is if Jumbo can counter one of those homerun moves Kobashi is going to be in a world of hurt.  Jumbo's strategy won't end the match with one shot, but he also won't hurt himself taking an unnecessary risk.  As the match goes on you see that despite their preferred method of offense both guys are capable of playing the other's game when the opportunity presents itself.  When Kobashi has Jumbo down he grounds the veteran and tries to work on his legs.  He knows he needs to take advantage when Jumbo is hurt to maximize the effectiveness of his big moves.  Jumbo on the other hand understands that he can use his conservative offense to lull his opponents to sleep and he can take a shot at the end zone when they least expect it.  Jumbo actually hits a tope rope cross body that almost ends Kobashi's night.  The dynamic between these two is different than when Jumbo faces Kawada or Misawa.  Those two play a game that is much more focused on attrition than Kobashi.  Kobashi can't win a match with Jumbo by trying to play field position, he needs to get down the field and get in the endzone.  The problem is he goes for one big play too many and Jumbo catches him with one of those knees to the sternum and finishes him with a back drop.  I really liked this match, I'd rank it at ****1/4 as these guys have a really fun chemistry.  Kobashi really wants to beat Jumbo and he is willing to use every tool in his toolbox in order to get the job done.  Jumbo starts off trying to just wear Kobashi down until he realizes that the youngster has improved and he's going to have to put his working boots on if he wants to win.

 

2/29/92 - Pillman vs. Liger (WCW) ****3/4

 

This is a pretty famous match that is in the conversation for best opening match ever.  Brian Pillman was great at this point in his career, despite WCW not having any idea what to do with him.  He should have been pushed higher up the card, but then we probably wouldn't have this match.  This is a match I've seen probably 25 times, as these two were amongst my favorites as a kid.  This is a match that has a reputation of being a crazy high flying match, but the vast majority of this match takes place on the mat.  This is essentially the prototype for the cruiserweight division that comes into prominence later in the decade.  The cruiserweight division was full of planchas and hurricaranas, but the some of the best matches were full of matwork.  The flying moves in this match were the high spots, but the meat of this match was good fundamental wrestling.  I imagine most of you have seen this match, and if you haven't why the hell haven't you watched this yet?  This is probably a little overrated by today's standards, but this was ****3/4 when it happened. 

 

3/31/92 - Kawada vs. Taue (AJPW) ****1/4

 

If you've been following along, you'll know that Kawada and Taue hate each other.  Don't worry if you haven't been following, because Taue makes it very clear that he has no respect for Kawada or his well being by jumping him before the bell, hitting a tope, and chokeslamming him on the floor.  This was my favorite feud of 1991, and I think it's safe to say that their hatred hasn't cooled down at all.  I love this feud because it is unlike everything else that All Japan does.  All Japan in the 90s is probably the best in the world at heavyweight wrestling, but they don't really do brawls.  The matches can be hate filled and competitive, but it always feels like a wrestling match.  The matches between these two feel like a fight between two guys who wrestle.  Sure they work holds here and there, but it comes off like they are doing it because those are the weapons they have in their arsenal, not because they are actually trying to see who is the best wrestler.  If Kawada worked in the states he'd probably be seen as a brawler like a Cactus Jack, he even hits a Cactus elbow off the apron here.  (I can only imagine what they would have come up with if Kawada and Cactus actually wrestled in their primes.)  He'd probably be the best brawler of all time if he worked in a company that actually did more brawls.  That doesn't mean that Taue isn't up to the task as a brawler as well.  These two beat the ever loving hell out of each other.  Taue is the Vader to Kawada's Cactus Jack.  He has the power advantage and the viciousness advantage.  He hits his cobra clutch sideslam finisher only to have Kawada kick out.  Taue then gets pissed and hits him with another one, but instead of pinning him he picks him up and hits him with a third one.  He probably didn't need the third one, but Taue wanted to punish that son of a bitch for having the audacity to kick out of the first one.  I could watch these two wrestle 10 more matches just like this I gave this one ****1/2. 

 

4/5/92 - Savage vs. Flair (WWF) ****1/4

 

Sorry friends, but I'm not even going to try to be objective about this match.  This is probably in my top five most watched matches, and I've loved it every single time.  Macho Man Randy Savage is my favorite wrestler of all time, and Ric Flair is a close second.  I'm of the opinion that as far as wrestling storylines go there has never been a better booked year than Randy Savage in 1991/92.  Starting with his retirement and reconciliation with Elizabeth at Wrestlemania VII and finishing here with winning the title at Wrestlemania VIII.  He went from losing his job, to getting married, to being bitten by a cobra on national television, to some maniac slapping his wife, to getting his revenge, to some asshole threatening to reveal nude pictures of his wife, to vanquishing his foe, and becoming the world champion.  This match is the crowning achievement of that year of booking.  He goes from being the most hated heel in the company to the most sympathetic babyface, and Savage solidified himself as my favorite wrestler to a 10-year-old Supremebve.  Based on the action in the ring for this match it is not *****, but what it means to me and how it is a huge part of me becoming a lifelong wrestling fan it is absolutely *****.

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1/4/92 - Steiners vs. Muta/Sting (NJPW) ****1/4

 

Muta and Scott start, but not before Muta spews the ever so rare blue mist.  If the matches of 1992 were put onto one show, this may very well be the ideal opener.  It is four good, well known workers who have a lot of flashy moves, but ultimately doesn't serve any real purpose on the card but to be a fun action packed match.  I swear that Rick and Scott hit every single move they know on Muta with no real rhyme or reason.  They just throw him around the ring with every suplex and slam they can think of.  There are a couple really cool spots though, like Rick catching Muta mid handspring elbow and German suplexing him.  I'd say this is a step down from the Steiner matches in 1991 in terms of match structure, but this is a step up in terms of "Oh shit did you see that fucking suplex."  So, I'd say ****1/4 is just about right if you grade this on the "I know this is going to be a spotfest" curve.

Brock Lesnar has turned into the long lost Steiner brother the past year except he's great. Right, Brock?

 

jiarecw-Imgur.gif

 

Right. It's like he's taken that Steiner killer suplex fest style and evolved it so it actually has some structure and meaning. How I will miss him wrecking dudes for fun should he sign with UFC.

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Finally getting around to the Steve Austin tape. 

 

3. -Tag Team Match: 
"Superstar" Bill Dundee & "Gorgeous" Gary Young vs. "Flamboyant" Eric Embry & "Stunning" Steve Austin w/ Tojo Yamamoto 

 

Super Memphis style match. Everyone throws Great Punches here and the heels cheat it up bigtime. I could only think I'd seen Gary in Global before and after looking he did work there. He's a really great seller, stumbling and falling all over the place as the FIP. Eric almost has his number after a DDT and a piledriver but he hot tags Dundee who gets the rollup. Afterwards Austin and Embry come in with handcuffs given by Tojo and the faces get locked to the ropes and beaten down. You can clearly see Gary get the blade ready and Austin comes in with a loaded glove to work him over, but they cut to the next match before we get any blood. All four guys are great and Austin also had a discus clothesline that I've never seen him use before. 

 

4. -6 Man Tag Team Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & "Maniac" Matt Borne & Eric Embry 
vs. 
Devastation, Inc.: "Missouri Tiger" Jeff Gaylord & Sheik Braddock & "Stunning" Steve Austin w/General Skandor Akbar

 

That is one hell of a team of workers on the face side. I don't know how many times Embry turned in USWA but it must've been frequently. Chris is of course Austin's trainer and he bails in fear of him initially. Embry with dark hair and beard may look even sleazier than clean shaven and blonde. Borne has a neat submission where it looks like he's gonna do a neckbreaker and just hangs Braddock's head over his shoulder. He does a monkey flip and hits an enzuigiri too so I guess he's the spot guy in the match. Things start to break down and Austin eats the superkick for the visual pin; Akbar hits Adams in the head for Steve to get the duke. Short but sweet. 

 

5. -History of the Adams-Austin teacher vs. student feud in Steve's second year as a Professional Wrestler! 

 

So Austin's first big angle was Adams introducing Austin as his new prodigy to the USWA. Austin doesn't want to be in his shadow and they start to feud immediately. Jeannie Clark is Chris' ex-wife and she hooks up with Austin. There's clips of their feud and man both guys really lay it into each other. Adams has a neck brace on and Austin takes it off and pulverizes him, even Cactus Jacking his head in the ropes. Toni Adams, Chris' current wife, gets involved and we got a CAAAAAATFIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT! Another clip with Austin working over Chris with a chair while Jeannie gets a kendo stick and beats the fuck out of both of them. Austin throws the chair while Chris is down and it appears to hit him in the crotch. This stuff is really intense and I'm digging it the most. 

 

6. -Mixed Tag Team Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & Toni Adams vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin & Jeannie Clark (Chris Adams' ex-wife!) 

 

Austin and Jeannie (clearly a stripper Chris picked up on a binge) come out to "Fame" by Bowie, Chris and Toni come out to "Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty. Instant brawl and the ref gets pissed! We finally get Austin in with Chris and Austin's pants have gone from typically cheesy '90s neon designs to this incredible neon floral print that you have to see to believe. He grinds in the headlock and has the most utterly evil look on his face, yelling "HE'S MINE", "HE'S GOING DOWN". In the realm of buxom blonde valets I think Jeannie is prettier than Toni; she just has that lived in, redneck gal face that reminds me of Sunshine. The girls get a minor scrum in before the guys are back at it. Things break down with a DDQ and Adams piledriven on the floor then Jeannie paintbrushes Toni and works on her broken rib from the prior kendo stick attack. Another piledriver and Toni tries to cover up Chris but Austin splashes both of them with Jeannie stepping on both of their necks to add insult to injury. The working term for this is "heated" to say the least. 

 

7. -Mixed Tag Team Re-Match: 
"Gentleman" Chris Adams & Toni Adams vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin & Jeannie Clark (Chris Adams' ex-wife!) 

 

Here's the rematch. It starts off exactly like the first with an immediate brawl before the bell and the ref yelling at them on the mic. We got Percy Pringle at the booth months before he went to WWF for the Paul Bearer role and just hearing him commentate makes me smile. Chris does a catapult to the corner and Austin hits a gutwrench suplex before Chris locks in the sleeper. Both guys are pulling the hair to trade off holds while the girls both slip in the same spot on the floor chasing each other. "That woman ain't got no business in the ring... she's got about as much business in the ring as Chris Von Erich does." Damn Purse, you cold as ice! Jeannie tags in but Chris ties her in the ropes for Toni. Both gals are completely untrained so they're just waffling each other with slaps. Chris posts Austin's crotch on the outside; The gals roll over the announce table and Percy interferes so Chris Von Erich comes out, then Jeff Jarrett, and then Iceman King Parsons and we just have a huge schmozz. I'm guessing this set up some huge blowoff like a football classic or something. 

 

Ultimate Fan Series Vol. 2: Ultimate Slams and Bams is announced after this with some footage of Koko and Doink. I doubt it's anywhere near the quality of this tape but I'd still like to see it cause this was plenty fun. I didn't mention that it starts out with a pretty good "come as you are" match between Adams and Austin with Austin wearing football gear. Getting something this unexpectedly cool for something like 50 cents that didn't even come out of my own pocket is the best. A real good look into Austin's second year which shows him pretty much ready for the big time despite his inexperience. 

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This cold weather has me on one hell of a roll.  It is amazing how much wrestling one man can watch when there is ice covering every surface outside of his home. Remember if you want to follow along you can get most of these matches here...and if you know where to find any of the ones without links, go ahead and add them.

 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mQEPDOO_SEkMjt1dwqVKrNh69cOXJXQJwYDcQJaKJF8/edit?usp=sharing

 

4/6/92 - Hansen vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****

 

I'm not psychic, precognitive, or clairvoyant, but I don't think I have to be to know that this match is going to be as stiff as a 15 year old who just got called to answer a question on the blackboard.  These two guys kick the shit out of people for a living, and I'm sure there are going to be multiple potato shots given out, followed by non-negotiable receipts.  The  last Hansen match I watched was the one where he damn near blinded Vader.  That was two humongous dudes punching each other over and over again, this is much more of a wrestling match.  With that said, this is about as wild of a brawl as I've ever seen in All Japan.  Kawada, who is clearly being elevated from Misawa's homeboy to bad ass in his own right, kicks Hansen's ass for a good long while to start.  Kawada and Hansen work the match like an elephant fighting off a single extremely hungry lion.  Hansen is the bigger, stronger, wrestler, but Kawada isn't going anywhere until he eats.  So they spend 20 minutes or so hitting each other with stiff strikes, powerbomb and body slams on the floor, and finally a Hansen lariat that damn near decapitates Kawada.  This was gloriously violent, but the best part was Hansen's selling.  Hansen is a guy who hasn't had to show much ass in his career, but he displays the full moon here.  Kawada takes most of the big bumps, but most of those came when Hansen was able to use his superior strength to hit a big move to keep Kawada at bay for a moment.  Kawada took a powerbomb on the floor that made one of the sickest "splat" sounds I've ever heard.  It sounded like he dropped a bag of concrete off of a roof.  I'd go ****1/2 for this, but then again I can't remember the last Kawada match I didn't like more than most people. 

 

4/14/92 - Misawa vs. Gordy (AJPW) ****1/4

 

I don't want to live in the world where this match is better than the last match.  This drags for long stretches, doesn't have much drama until after the halfway mark, and it feels like they took a little bit to figure out what kind of match they wanted to wrestle.  Early on I thought Gordy was going to try to turn the match into a fight, while Misawa used his superior wrestling.  It would have worked as a match, but neither guy really committed to a strategy.  The match picked up when they decided that this half assed clash of styles match they were putting together didn't work nearly as well as them throwing bombs.  Sometimes all of the psychology and storytelling in the world aren't going to save a boring match, but sometimes bombs will.  When they got out of their own way and picked up the pace this shit got fun.  Gordy's turned up the viciousness with his offense, and Misawa decided that trying to chain wrestle this bruiser was going to lead to getting his ass whipped.  The last five minutes of this match are great, the first ten are boring as all hell.  This is probably around ***3/4, but the finishing stretch is really fucking good.

 

4/17/92 - Kobashi/Kawada vs. Tsuruta/Ogawa (AJPW) ****1/4

 

This is joined in progress with Jumbo giving Kobashi a shin breaker over the top turnbuckle.  When exactly did Kobashi's knees go?  He debuted in 1988 and here in 1992 his knees are wrapped like he's been wrestling for 25 years.  Ogawa is a step down from Fuchi as far as loathsome assholes go, but he's still very slapable.  He just looks like the skinny kid who had a huge big brother who would beat the shit out of you for putting that little turd in his place.  Only 8:29 of this match are on YouTube and there really isn't enough here to rate. 

 

4/2/92 - Misawa vs. Tsuruta (AJPW) ****

 

Looking through the list, I believe this is the last singles match of note between these two.  From 1990 to 1992 the defining feud in all of wrestling has been Jumbo vs. Misawa.  These two and their respective armies have been consistently putting on 4* matches for over two years.  So far this is the feud of the decade, and no other feud is even in the conversation for #2.  Some wrestling feuds feel like fights between enemies and some feel like competitions between rivals.  This feud felt like both.  Jumbo was the undisputed ace of the company before Misawa came along and he took it personally when Misawa tried to take his place.  Jumbo's professional pride was damaged when Misawa beat him, and that pride turned into anger when he realized that not only is Misawa his equal he may even be his better.  Jumbo, who is absolutely one of the best of all time, played the role of the surly veteran who is going to stand his ground and die on his shield if that's what it takes.  Misawa is the young upstart, who was coming into his own as one of the best workers in the world, knows he belongs and is going to fight for his place at the top even if he has to destroy Jumbo to do it.  This is a **** match that ends the feud with neither guy giving any ground.  By the end of the year Misawa is the undisputed company ace and Jumbo takes a step back as he is diagnosed with Hepatitis B.  This is probably the worst of their singles matches during this feud, but it serves its purpose as an end to the feud.  I'd call this a good ending to a great story, but it fits this particular story well.  These guys fought for two years to see who was the best only to find out they were equals.  Misawa gets to go on as the #1 guy and Jumbo gets to ride off into the sunset with dignity.  This is wrestling at its highest level.  This has been the best in-ring feud that I've ever had the pleasure to watch and I'm sad to see it come to an end. 

 

4/25/92 - Toyota vs. Kyoko (AJW) *****

 

Manami Toyota's ring attire reminds me of that chick who used to be on ESPN waxing everyone in pool.  Kyoko looks like she is the love child of Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage.  That is about all the background I know about either of these lovely ladies.  I've been reading about Toyota's matches since I started following wrestling on the internet, but I've never got around to watching any.  So hopefully this project will catch me up on an apparently all time great wrestler who wrestles a style that I generally know nothing about.   Kyoko has some nasty submission offense.  John Cena should hire her to teach him how to cinch in a submission and make it looks like it hurts.  She also had some nifty suplexes, like the fallaway slam she does when she catches Toyota off the ropes.  Someone needs to steal that spot, if nothing else it could be a power counter to a cross body.  There is very little selling in this match, but there are a couple fun transitions that make it less jarring.  There is a spot where Toyota tries to put on an abdominal stretch, but Kyoto keeps hip tossing her before she can lock it in.  They fight over it a couple times before Toyota counters a backdrop and instead of going for the move that has failed her again she drops down and does a rolling cradle before taking over on offense.  Kyoko on the other hand found most of her success working submissions that hurt Toyota's lower back so she keeps going back to Boston crabs and camel clutches.  This match works really well despite the lack of selling, because they both stick to a game plan that makes sense for a layman like myself.  Kyoko wants to ground Toyota and punish her with big slams, suplexes, and submissions.  Toyota wants to fly.  Almost all of her offense until the finishing sequence comes off the top rope.  She wasn't going to play around on the mat and try to wrestle her more powerful opponent.  She was going to use her speed and flying to wear her down before hitting her suplexes for the win.  This is not a ***** match, but I did really like it.  It was a good combination of lucha and Japanese jr. wrestling where it was faced paced with a lot of mat work and flying.  It also had its own type of psychology, that was a little simpler than American psychology but always made sense within the match.  I'd call this ****1/4.

 

4/30/92 - Liger vs. Samurai (NJPW) *****

 

For some reason that I'll never understand, this match is not on NJPW World(or YouTube, I thankfully have it on DVD).  After all the good folks over at the DVDVR message board ranked this the #3 NJPW match of the 1990s, so it should be available on demand.  Jushin Thunder Liger has to be a top 5 most important worker in their history, and they don't include one of his best matches on their streaming service.  That would be like if the WWE Network didn't have Bret vs. Owen from Wrestlemania 10.  Samurai is working total shitbag heel here as he spits at Liger during the introductions, jumps him before the bell, hits him with a bottle and tombstones him of the floor.  Back in the ring Samurai hits him with another tombstone and starts trying to rip off his mask.  Samurai is a guy who I can't say I'm a fan of, but he has about five matches that I really like.  I don't know if I don't like him very much or just like Liger, Ohtani, and Kanemoto better.  He just seemed like the other guy for most of his run.  This is all Samurai for the first 10 minutes, but Liger comes back with a vengeance.  He hits him with a powerbomb on the floor then he goes to the top rope and hits an insane fucking swanton to the floor.  Liger is absolutely vicious attacking Samurai with everything in his vast repertoire.  He hits power bombs, koppu kicks, and a moonsault to the floor and rips Samurai's mask clean off his face.   This match is all hate filled action.  Samurai came into this match with something to prove, and caught Liger off guard.  When Liger regained his bearings he set out to teach Samurai a lesson.  The match is contentious the entire way through and both of these guys are at their best.  This is well worth the ***** rating and is one of the best jr. heavyweight matches in history. 

 

5/1/92 - Aoyagi vs. Koshinaka (NJPW) ****

 

This is a special Karate vs. Wrestling match according to NJPW Word, and I think it is safe to say if it wasn't for this project I would have never even thought about watching this match.  Seriously, I love wrestling and I love MMA, I just love them separately.  It's like having two girlfriends, you never know what the hell is going to happen if they actually meet, but it's usually bad.  The problem is that I've watched every Pride show and almost every UFC show, I know what MMA looks like.  I can't even remember a time when I didn't watch wrestling, and despite what the pompous asshats who like to make fun of us think, the best part is that it's a work.  Watching people throwing crazy strikes and suplexes works in wrestling, because we know that these moves are done for show.  In a worked MMA fight we have to pretend that the kicks that would knock a man unconscious in a real fight aren't enough to knock a man down, but they also look like shit in a wrestling context.  The two styles, despite being similar don't really mesh well.  This match to its credit is about as good of a worked shoot that I've ever seen.  There is enough pro wrestling in it to stop the offense from feeling ridiculous.  Koshinaka needs a hell of a lot of credit for holding this match together and understanding how to sell Aoyagi's strikes enough to make them credible enough to suspend belief.  He also used pro wrestling style offense to stop this from looking like a complete farce.  It probably sounds funny, but if Koshinaka wasn't using pro wrestling offense this wouldn't have worked at all.  Letting us know that this was a work actually helped the credibility of Aoyagi's offense, because if this was a shoot he would have looked like a weakling.  In a shoot those kicks should have knocked Koshinaka out in the first minute or so, but Koshinaka's selling of the damage and not pretending like this was a legit martial arts contest made this all work.  This was fun and despite my reservations going in I'm going to give this ****.

 

5/16/92 - Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Williams/Gordy/Slinger (AJPW) ****

 

Am I the only one who has never heard of Richard Slinger?  Do not mistake him for Dick Slinger, another wrestler who I hope chose his name unironically.  Based on his picture on Cagematch he looks like he did it on purpose and chuckles to himself every time the ring announcer has to say Dick Slinger.  Apparently he's Gordy's nephew and wrestled in All Japan and Noah for a good long while.  Say what you want about nepotism, but he pays his dues when he gets in the ring with Kawada.  Kawada, who is a surly, mean, heartless, motherfucker on a good day, put this kid through the ringer.  He hit him with a nasty lariat, some chops, some kicks, and a brainbuster that looked like he was trying to plant his head two feet deep into the mat like a fence post.  Kawada, being the pro he is, takes as good as he gives as Doc and Uncle Bam Bam take Kawada to the service desk and bring the receipts.  I wonder how Kawada lays out matches with his opponents.  Is the gist of the conversation, "I'm going to kick the shit out of you, and I want you to kick the shit out of me too?"  If there is one thing for certain in wrestling is that Kawada matches are all stiff as hell.  Slinger gets a surprising amount of offense in this one, and doesn't embarrass himself.  But of course, he was in this match for one reason and one reason only, to eat the pin, which he does on a Misawa tiger suplex.  This was a fun little match, I can't argue with the **** rating.

 

5/16/92 - Santo/Onita/Goto vs. Casas/Boulder/Patterson (FMW USA) *****

 

I don't know if this is the right match because there is no T. Patterson in this match(Is that supposed to be Thunderbolt?) .  Instead it is Mark Star who looks like his only two options for employment are 90s wrestler or sleazy strip club DJ.  I've seen very little FMW, and no FMW USA, but if this is a representative sample that is probably the craziest wrestling federation of all time.  I don't know where this takes place, but I guarantee you they didn't consult a sporting commission.  There seem to be multiple matches going on at once.  Horace Boulder is brawling in, around, above, and below the crowd with Onita.  Negro Casas and El Hijo Del Santo are having a technical lucha match in the ring as the audience is running away from those two crazy people.  Mark Starr is sucking at life, and Tarzan Goto is kind of just standing around.  This match is a whole lot of different things , but one thing it is not is *****.  I don't know how to rate this, because it is just too much at the same time.  It is like when you were a kid and you to a  fast food joint that let you fill your own drinks.  You would put a splash of every flavor in your cup and drink that shit like it was good.  This match is basically that, a little bit of everything all mixed up and I can't tell if it is good or just too busy to be boring.

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5/1/92 - Aoyagi vs. Koshinaka (NJPW) ****

 

This is a special Karate vs. Wrestling match according to NJPW Word, and I think it is safe to say if it wasn't for this project I would have never even thought about watching this match.  Seriously, I love wrestling and I love MMA, I just love them separately.  It's like having two girlfriends, you never know what the hell is going to happen if they actually meet, but it's usually bad.  The problem is that I've watched every Pride show and almost every UFC show, I know what MMA looks like.  I can't even remember a time when I didn't watch wrestling, and despite what the pompous asshats who like to make fun of us think, the best part is that it's a work.  Watching people throwing crazy strikes and suplexes works in wrestling, because we know that these moves are done for show.  In a worked MMA fight we have to pretend that the kicks that would knock a man unconscious in a real fight aren't enough to knock a man down, but they also look like shit in a wrestling context.  The two styles, despite being similar don't really mesh well.  This match to its credit is about as good of a worked shoot that I've ever seen.  There is enough pro wrestling in it to stop the offense from feeling ridiculous.  Koshinaka needs a hell of a lot of credit for holding this match together and understanding how to sell Aoyagi's strikes enough to make them credible enough to suspend belief.  He also used pro wrestling style offense to stop this from looking like a complete farce.  It probably sounds funny, but if Koshinaka wasn't using pro wrestling offense this wouldn't have worked at all.  Letting us know that this was a work actually helped the credibility of Aoyagi's offense, because if this was a shoot he would have looked like a weakling.  In a shoot those kicks should have knocked Koshinaka out in the first minute or so, but Koshinaka's selling of the damage and not pretending like this was a legit martial arts contest made this all work.  This was fun and despite my reservations going in I'm going to give this ****.

 

 

I have to ask how much UWF/UWFi/RINGS/BattlARTS you have watched, and depending on that, we might have some more matches well above the Meltzer level for you to review. Good work btw!

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5/1/92 - Aoyagi vs. Koshinaka (NJPW) ****

 

This is a special Karate vs. Wrestling match according to NJPW Word, and I think it is safe to say if it wasn't for this project I would have never even thought about watching this match.  Seriously, I love wrestling and I love MMA, I just love them separately.  It's like having two girlfriends, you never know what the hell is going to happen if they actually meet, but it's usually bad.  The problem is that I've watched every Pride show and almost every UFC show, I know what MMA looks like.  I can't even remember a time when I didn't watch wrestling, and despite what the pompous asshats who like to make fun of us think, the best part is that it's a work.  Watching people throwing crazy strikes and suplexes works in wrestling, because we know that these moves are done for show.  In a worked MMA fight we have to pretend that the kicks that would knock a man unconscious in a real fight aren't enough to knock a man down, but they also look like shit in a wrestling context.  The two styles, despite being similar don't really mesh well.  This match to its credit is about as good of a worked shoot that I've ever seen.  There is enough pro wrestling in it to stop the offense from feeling ridiculous.  Koshinaka needs a hell of a lot of credit for holding this match together and understanding how to sell Aoyagi's strikes enough to make them credible enough to suspend belief.  He also used pro wrestling style offense to stop this from looking like a complete farce.  It probably sounds funny, but if Koshinaka wasn't using pro wrestling offense this wouldn't have worked at all.  Letting us know that this was a work actually helped the credibility of Aoyagi's offense, because if this was a shoot he would have looked like a weakling.  In a shoot those kicks should have knocked Koshinaka out in the first minute or so, but Koshinaka's selling of the damage and not pretending like this was a legit martial arts contest made this all work.  This was fun and despite my reservations going in I'm going to give this ****.

 

 

I have to ask how much UWF/UWFi/RINGS/BattlARTS you have watched, and depending on that, we might have some more matches well above the Meltzer level for you to review. Good work btw!

 

I've watched approximately zero UWF/UWFi/Rings/BattleARTS, but I'd be open to watching some.  This match was much better than I expected, because I really expected it to be goofy fake kickboxing.  I've seen a couple of IGF matches and thought they were basically the worst versions of both wrestling and MMA. My expectations were probably lowered from watching guys work matches that were built to look like legit fights that would somehow have a sitdown powerbomb thrown in the middle of them. 

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Oh man, IGF is the worst. Aside from Josh Barnett vs. Hideki Suzuki I can't say I've ever seen anything from that fed that comes off anything less than laughable. The problem with shootstyle is everyone has a certain line they draw in the sand with it, for too many it can come off as unrealistic, or boring, or just too weird. Probably the best thing to start with is the Fujiwara/Super Tiger feud in the original UWF or the Ishikawa/Ikeda feud in BattlARTS. But just to warm you up a bit here's something that blew my mind when I first saw it and made me understand the concept of the rope break, the points system, etc. while still managing to be molten hot to all the drunk Yakuza members in the audience. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab9n0jmi05s

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXTscoyw8aM

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Okay, after watching that again I realize that RINGS is pretty arcane (okay, REALLY arcane) with its rules and style, especially for a novice. Here's something a little more down to earth pro-wrestley violent and hate fueled. I think between these two matches you'll get how open the field of shootstyle is in terms of storytelling and variety.

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geBpm5Nq2yQ

 

I decided to watch Schneider Comp. #23 because it's been a long time and this is on it. JESUS WEEPING BLOODY CHRIST is this match Violent with a capital V. Yatsu basically tries to rupture Tenryu's eardrum and fluid squirts out of the side of his head at one point. It wasn't blood, I don't know what it was, but it was gross. Also, Tenryu kicks Yatsu in the face at one point and it literally sounds like a home run hit. About as intense as you can get without having a gorefest. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Well, it's that time of the year so I got curious and grabbed a copy of IWA Deep-South's Carnage Cup 10. I've only watched night one so far and have seen more stupid and terrible "wrestling" than I care to so the second night will have to wait a few days. There was a three way that wasn't horrible except for a bootleg version of Abyss named Acid. The other two wrestlers, Lil Bink and Mikey G were perfectly acceptable indie guys in the early-2000s vein. The Tank/Corp. Robinson match was a lot of fun actually. It was the kind of thing that needed Dave Prazak or Punk on commentary though. They didn't even grab weapons for a pretty long period of time. Instead it was stiff punches and headbutts. They kind of did every fun sequence you'd see on old King of the Deathmatch shows, which made the match stand out as every other match started with guys grabbing light tubes and not even pretending to work even the simplest of matches. So if you've got a soft spot for 2000s deathmatch guys, this match would be worth seeking out. For some reason IWA DS brought Kriss Kloss out to do commentary which was pretty fun. I think listening to Naylor and crew wax poetic about early CZW and IWA-MS may have given me a temporary set of rose-colored glasses to watch this show through.

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Guess who's back?  As always you can watch along by going here...https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mQEPDOO_SEkMjt1dwqVKrNh69cOXJXQJwYDcQJaKJF8/edit?usp=sharing

 

5/17/92 - Windham/Dustin/Koloff/Steamboat/Sting vs. Zbyszko/Eaton/Anderson/Austin/Rude - War Games (WCW) *****

 

I am ashamed to say, that this is the first time I've seen this match.  When the Network first launched I had a couple ideas about how to take advantage of the wealth of content, and one of them was that I was going to watch WCW from beginning to end.  It took about 2 weeks before I realized that the highs of WCW were really high, but I'd rather eat a sandwich I found under an old bus seat than to watch the lows of WCW.  Needless to say, I never got to this match going chronologically.  Then I started trying to watch the best pay per views of all time, but this is essentially a one match show.  Thankfully I've decided to watch every 4+ star match available on the internet and I've finally got to what many consider the best War Games match.  Young Paul E. Dangerously has a diagram he's using to put together a game plan which is simultaneously ridiculous and genius.  Heyman is probably the most interesting mind in the history of wrestling.  He's one of the only people in wrestling that I can't figure out whether he's a genius or an idiot.  Consider it +1 for genius for being the manager who comes to the ring with a poster board diagramming the strategy for his team.  This match is so much fun, I'm a mark for Steve Austin and his chickenshit heel act is almost as good as his bad ass babyface act.  He bumps around like a freak, bleeds like a stuck pig, and is the MVP of this match.  Austin may have the most in ring charisma of all time.  It is impossible to take your eyes off of him whenever he is on the screen.  I couldn't possibly recap a match with this much going on, but I'll tell you that it is well worth the *****.  This was just a blast to watch.

 

5/22/92 - Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Tsuruta/Taue/Fuchi (AJPW) *****

 

Unless I'm overlooking something, this is the last time I'll be writing about this set of guys in the ring together.  There will be other matches with Kikuchi and/or Ogawa, but those two are not central to this feud.  These six men have been putting on the best matches in the world for going on three years, and this match very well could be the best of the bunch.  WWE loves to talk about their characters, but this is the best cast of characters I've witnessed in all my years of watching wrestling.  In WWE the characters are cartoonish at best and buffoonish at worst.  They've spent decades putting lipstick on pigs and hoping we didn't notice.  Occasionally they'll stumble upon a Stone Cold Steve Austin or a Rock, but even those characters developed after their original characters failed.  For the most part WWE tries to tell us how great their characters are, AJPW let their characters go out and show us their greatness.  These guys aren't cartoons or buffoons.  These characters only exist within the three ropes and four corners of a wrestling ring.  I didn't have to hear them cut 20 minute promos or try to act in backstage skits for me to understand who they are and where they are coming from.  I know that Jumbo is a surly veteran who would rather be carried out on his shield than to give up his spot.  I know that Misawa is the hot shot youngster who won't be denied his place in history.  I know that Taue is the biggest kid in the yard and who will slap the shit out of one of the smaller kids if he doesn't remember his place.  I know that Kawada is the bad ass dude that you don't want to fight, because even if you win, you'll be worse off after fighting him.  I know that Fuchi isn't the biggest, strongest, or toughest guy, but if you give him the slightest opportunity he will make you pay.  I know that Kobashi is the guy who's heart is too big for him to fail, there is literally no way to make him quit.  They didn't beat us over the head with goofy marketing slogans to get these guys over, all of these characters were established over nearly three years of rock solid in-ring storytelling.  WWE is the biggest wrestling company in the world, but they behave like they're ashamed to call themselves wrestling.  They don't believe that wrestling alone can tell the kinds of stories that connect with people.  I know most people aren't going to ever go back and watch this feud from beginning to end, but I honestly believe this is the best wrestling storyline of all time.  Every single person has a role, and the feud elevated everyone involved. 

 

5/25/92 - Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Furnas/Kroffat (AJPW) *****

 

This match is legendary for having what may be the hottest crowd of all time, and they are 100% behind Kobashi and Kikuchi.  This crowd pops for everything that Kobashi and Kikuchi do like a Steve Austin Stunner in 1998.  It is insane how loud they pop for simple things like Kikuchi's snap suplex in the first 5 minutes of the match.  They aren't just loud either, they are jumping out of their seats for every single spot.  I don't know if this was a hot feud at the time or what, but these fans are invested in a way that I've never seen.  It is absolutely incredible.  The match is worked in the classic southern tag style with Kikuchi being face in peril as Furnas and Kroffat do everything they can to stop him from tagging Kobashi.  I find it amazing that Furnas and Kroffat never had a successful run in WWF or WCW.  They should have been putting on great matches with the Steiners, LOD, or the feuding with the Dangerous Alliance.  Then again if they were in the States, we wouldn't have this fantastic match.  This is a match that would probably be great without the crazy crowd, but the crowd gives it a little something extra.  This match has stood the test of time for a reason, I give it *****.

 

5/30/92 - Misawa/Kikuchi vs. Tsuruta/Taue (AJPW) ****

 

I've probably seen a combination of these guys wrestle 30 times by now, but they always do something a little different to keep the matches from getting stale.  In this one they start with Jumbo and Taue jumping Misawa and Kikuchi.  They pair off into opposite corners and the heels just pummel the faces with punches to the face.  Jumbo and Taue try to irish whip the faces into each other only to have Misawa leap frog Kikuchi and hit an elbow and a dropkick respectively.  The heels bail, and Misawa and Kikuchi hit stereo dives and this match is off to a hot start.  The first minute or so of this match make the heels look like destroyers, the faces fighting back with exciting high flying moves, and both teams establishing themselves and their strategies.  Jumbo and Taue are just brutal to Misawa and Kikuchi and from minute one we knew that if they could isolate Misawa or Kikuchi they'd be able to overpower them and win.  This seemed like a bit of a throwaway match, but it was a rock solid 15 minutes of action.  Their standard is incredible, but this is merely very good.  It is an easy ****, it would have been even higher with another five minutes or so.

 

6/5/92 - Misawa/Kobashi vs. Tsuruta/Taue (AJPW) ****3/4

 

One of my favorite traditions in Japanese wrestling is when the fans throw streamers into the ring during the introductions.  This match has the most streamers I've ever seen.  I almost felt bad for those dudes on the outside who had to clean them all up.  These four guys are as over with this crowd as anyone I've ever seen and the entire mat is covered with streamers by the time they are done throwing them into the ring.  The only problem I have with these matches is that they are so hard to describe differently.  I've tried to do play-by-play on some, talk about the characters on others, and describe the story of the match from time to time.  The problem is that these matches are so good they kind of speak for themselves.  I can try to convey just how good these guys work together, but it is almost impossible to completely describe how these characters tell such compelling, emotional stories.  You need to see how they interact, hear the crowd, and feel the electricity that builds throughout the match.  This is the kind of match that can happen when all four guys trust each other to give their best and the audience believes everything they do.  We all know that wrestling is not "real," but we are fans because of those rare times where the wrestlers make us feel that what we are watching is real.  These guys make their matches feel real despite the fact that I absolutely know that they aren't.  Great wrestling makes you believe, and I believed everything about this match *****.

 

 6/16/92 - Steiners vs. Williams/Gordy (WCW) ****

 

This is not a **** match, but this is a very interesting match.  There are parts of this that are really good, but there are other parts that just kind of drag.  This is essentially an extended face in peril segment for Scott Steiner.  Williams and Gordy work over his leg and dominate him for 75% of the match.  Doc and Gordy have some really cool offense, like Dr. Death's military press into a powerslam, but ultimately this is almost a squash match.  When you think of these two teams, you expect nonstop, bomb throwing, mayhem, but this is based on selling and psychology.  This match ends after Scott Steiner, who is getting his ass kicked for the majority of the match, goes for a belly-to-belly suplex, but gets chop blocked by Gordy as he's lifting Doc for the suplex.  They get a win after a chop block, over the most over tag team in the company.  The crowd absolutely hates this finish.   This could have been really good if the Steiners actually were able to get a comeback that led to a finishing stretch.  The finish makes sense based on the story they were telling, but that doesn't mean it is a story worth telling. They made one of the most over acts in the company look like chumps.   I enjoyed parts of this, but this not ****, I'd give it maybe ***.

 

6/20/92 - Cactus vs. Sting (WCW) ****1/2

 

I am a Foley mark, and I've never watched this match so color me excited.  This is crazy Watts run WCW, and Cactus wastes no time bumping on the concrete floor.  In the first five minutes of this match Foley hits the Cactus elbow, a back body drop, that ill-advised sunset flip, and a suplex on the floor.  He actually moves well these days if you take all this unnecessary punishment into consideration.  He shouldn't be able to walk at all.  With all of that said, Foley was already really good in the ring in 1992.  He had most of his spots down and all of his offense looked really good.  Sting was pretty good here, but he kind of had an easy job.  Foley's offense is pretty low impact on his opponents, despite everything looking like a car wreck, and will take all the insane bumps to make his opponents look good.  Sting didn't let that stop him from pulling his weight.  He let Foley get all of his moves in, but took the win after a top rope clothesline onto the ramp.  When he took off I didn't think he had a prayer to make it to where Foley was standing, but he hit it pretty cleanly.  This is too short to be rated ****1/2, but this is really good, and a whole lot of fun.  I'd give it ****, but this was different from everything else that was going on at the time.

 

7/12/92 - Vader vs. Sting (WCW) ****

 

Sting’s absolute peak is probably this run in 1992, and this match is one of the biggest reasons.  Vader is just starting his main event run in WCW, and that is some of the best big man wrestling ever.  Vader had the ability to look like the most unstoppable force in the world, but he would also bump like a mad man for his opponents.  He may have the most devastating looking offense in the history of wrestling.  Everything he did looked like it hurt and hurt badly.  Sting’s used high-speed, hit and run tactics to wear down Vader before bringing out the big guns and hitting a Samoan drop and a German Suplex.  Sting goes for a series of Stinger Splashes, but hits his head on the ring post on the second one allowing Vader to powerbomb Sting into oblivion.  The crowd is shocked, including a woman sitting in the front row wearing a three-piece, mid-drift baring, cow print, pantsuit.  This was all types of fun, but this is one of the best rivalries of all time.  Vader and Sting had great chemistry.  They went together like shrimp and grits and this match is just the start of their feud.  **** is just about right for this match, it is basically a really good appetizer setting up an all-time great meal. 

 

3/20/92 - Kobashi vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****1/4

 

I know this is out of order, but I couldn’t find this match when I looked the first time.  These guys start out wrestling like they’ve been feuding for months, but as far as I know they’re still friends and teammates at this point.  Kobashi flattens Kawada with a shoulder tackle, followed by a DDT from the apron to the floor.  Just when I thought this was going to turn into an all-out, bomb throwing, sprint Kobashi locks in a headlock that seems to last 15 minutes.  Kawada eventually leg kicks his way out, and starts to work over Kobashi’s knee.  They trade holds for a while, and half way through I’m beginning to think that this match is vastly overrated.  I don’t mind guys trading holds, it is just none of these holds are going to come into play later in the match.  If you are going to spend 10 minutes building the foundation of your match on a series of headlocks and sleepers, like Kobashi does here, those headlocks and sleepers should factor into the strategy going forward in the match.  I don’t mind him using the headlock during the feeling out process, or him building his strategy around headlocks, but he spent the entire first half of the match doing something that didn’t have any effect on the second half.  I don’t think this is a bad match, but it isn’t ****1/4.  It is basically two halves of a match that doesn’t quite make a whole.  I’m going to go ***1/2 for this one.

 

7/5/92 - Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Fuchi/Ogawa (AJPW) *****

 

Fuchi and Ogawa enter the ring to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” and solidified themselves as the douchiest team of all time.  Before I heard that I was skeptical that this would live up to the ***** rating, but now I’m 100% confident that it will.  Fuchi is one of the bitchiest looking people of all time, and Ogawa looks like the kid who was always starting fights in school despite the fact that he always got his ass kicked.  The match is clipped and we resume with Fuchi and Ogawa pulling out all of their dastardly tricks on poor Kikuchi.  As this project has taught me, NO ONE takes an ass kicking like Kikuchi.  He never gets mentioned with the All Japan guys of the 90s, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t great in every single match I’ve seen him in.  Kobashi and Kikuchi could have been the best southern babyface team of all-time in a different world, because Kobashi’s fired up babyface act is as good if not better than Kikuchi’s face in peril.  They are just a masterful face tag team…and as if they heard me praise them they switch roles as the heels take out Kobashi’s knee and Kikuchi does the house-a-fire routine.  This match is the exact opposite of the last one as the heel’s leg work on Kobashi comes into play later in the match as Kobashi hits a moonsault, but can’t make the cover because his knee is in such bad shape.  They went back to it multiple times and this match told a convincing story the previous match did not. This match is great, it is worked like a southern tag from 1989.  The heels are charismatic assholes who are just unbelievably loathsome.  The faces are super sympathetic, but not to the point where they ever look weak.  Kobashi’s selling of the knee is rock solid, and Ogawa and Fuchi remembering to go back to it makes this match really compelling.  I’m going to agree and give this the full *****.  This is one of those matches that I started this project to find.  It is a great match that is somehow lost in the shuffle of all the other great All Japan matches of the era, but if you have the time you should definitely seek this one out.

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  • 3 weeks later...

just got a copy of WWE Super Tuesday in the mail. from november 2002. what a fun little show this was. oddly, i haven't been able to find it online for the last couple of years.

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I was going through my harddrive last night and found a Championship Wrestling from Florida (I guess?) DVD file. It's about an hour and a half long, and the last match is a tag team match with Stan Hansen & Harley Race versus The Road Warriors. And oh my god it's fucking brutal in all of the right ways.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXhz4mJiirE

 

I'm curious to know the match listing and whatnot for this, though. It has a full interview with Mike Graham interspliced throughout the DVD, usually after matches. It looks like he's on a boat or something? I don't know if that helps, but yeah. Even the file was mislabeled as "Classic Championship Wrestling Vol. 1" even though I'm pretty sure it's Championship Wrestling from Florida. Or maybe that's just the title of the DVD.

 

In any case - anyone know about this thing?

 

--

 

I also watched Memphis Heat last night. Being from Tennessee, it really makes me mad that I wasn't alive in that time period, the crowds looked HOT and the wrestling was bloody and violent. I really want more Memphis footage now.

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