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If you watch the match, every suplex Payne threw was pretty high-impact and reckless.

I believe in a shoot interview, he said he hurt Knobbs because how stiff the Nasty Boys were to other people.

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I dunno if Heenan and Schavone are being deliberately obtuse there or what.  On the replay, they talk about how Knobbs probably injured his arm taking that move - while Kobbs (in slo-mo) lands on face and his head gets wedged into the mat at an unnatural angle.  I'd have been more concerned about Knobbs breaking his neck on that landing.

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Well immediately after the suplex, Knobs arm was a wet noodle.  Matter of fact, after the finish, the Nasties didn't stick around and celebrate.  Sags helped Knobbs out of the ring, and they left.

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Andre the Giant & Chief Jay Strongbow vs Ken Patera & Nikolai Volkoff (WWWF MSG, 6/27/77)

 

2/3 Falls, 16:25

 

Oh man, this one starts out fun! Andre lifts Strongbow into the ring (to not muss his headpiece?). Jay apparently has a major beef with Capt Lou and eventually chases the manager out of the ring and back to the locker room. I have never seen Strongbow this energized. 

 

From there, it's just awesome moment after awesome moment: Andre stealthily tagged in while Patera showboats. Strongbow coming off the ropes and sliding between Volkoff's legs to tag Andre. Patera and Volkoff fighting each other outside the ring, following the first fall. 

 

Patera does an extended sleeper, which could be boring as heck. But Volkoff does some stooging to distract the ref, and Andre is able to reach half way across the ring and tag Strongbow's foot. They keep a resthold segment interesting until Andre gets a hot tag. In the second fall, Patera and Volkoff continue the arguing I mentioned above. Incidentally, Volkoff throws some nice-looking punches. 

 

Not saying much since I haven't seen many, but I have never seen a better match from Strongbow. If this is how he acted in his younger, less lazy years, then it's no wonder the crowds loved him so much. Volkoff, too, I only really know from his broken-down comedy villain years in the mid-80s. It's a treat to watch him mobile and motivated. 

 

 

Superstar Billy Graham vs Bruno Sammartino (WWWF MSG, 6/27/77)

 

18:39

 

Graham cuts one of his classic promos before the match.

 

Bruno looks great here with his 'fro and pornstache. He comes out guns blazing, and the crowd eats it up. He dominates for awhile, with Superstar doing a lot of cowardly heel schtick. Things slow down when they do an extended sequence of trading full nelsons. But even then it's not so bad because the crowd's excited about everything. 

 

It's been awhile since I watched any Superstar. I forgot how limited he really was - friggin Goldberg had a bigger move-set. Full nelson, bear-hug, test of strength, a few bumps. Not much even by 1970's WWWF standards. But this match really makes me appreciate the skills of prime Bruno, as he carries Graham to something that is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. Flair himself couldn't have done better with this broomstick. 

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Watching a few episodes of USA Championship Wrestling from March '88 I stumbled across on YouTube. They had me at Johnny/Davey Rich and Scott Armstrong as a group called "The Party Boys." I'm also way into any new Ron Wright stuff I find.

Is this an offshoot of Continental? Not really familiar with the company, but Solie is on commentary duty with Ron Fuller and there's a lot of the same crew.

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1/4/93 - Chono vs. Muta (NJPW) ****1/4

 

We start the year at the NJPW Dome show which is co promoted with both WCW and WAR.  This match pits the IWGP Heavyweight Champion The Great Muta vs. the NWA Heavyweight Champion Masahiro Chono.  I’ve previously talked about how influential Muta was in my interest in Japanese wrestling, and I have to admit I was really excited when I noticed he was in the Great Muta gimmick for this match.  Chono is a guy I could take or leave, but if I have to watch a Chono match Muta is my preferred opponent.  These guys have a really good chemistry, and despite years of hate, the last few Chono matches I’ve watched weren’t too bad.  Chono is kind of like bad beer at a party, if I wasn’t doing this project I probably wouldn’t watch any Chono matches, but now that I’m here and I’ve drank a couple in, I’ve found that it really isn’t that bad.   In this analogy, Muta would be the friend you haven’t seen in a while, but you instantly realize why you guys were friends in the first place.  This isn’t as good as their 1991 match, but it isn’t bad.  It is kind of like a movie sequel where they focus more on the big action scenes than telling a good story.  The ’91 match felt like the Super Bowl this one seems like a good Sunday Night Football game on a random day in October.  Both can be really entertaining, but one has a little extra juice.  I’d rate this one at ****.

 

1/4/93 - Steiners vs. Hawk/Power Warrior (NJPW) ****

 

For those who don’t know (Is anyone reading this that doesn’t know?) Power Warrior is Kensuke Sasaki in face paint and Road Warrior style shoulder pads.  This is probably one of the first 5 or so New Japan matches I’ve ever watched, I found it on the internet before YouTube, took the two and a half hours it took to download on my dial up modem, and watched it on a RealPlayer.  I had been lurking around the internet wrestling community for a while, and I had heard about Japanese wrestling, and in my curiosity I downloaded a match featuring 3 Americans and some dude who I’d never heard of.  This was everything I could have ever asked for at the time.  It is just four, fairly reckless, dudes dropping each other on their heads.  If you were to list the guys who had the ability, and the personality, to spike a dude directly on their heads for no reason whatsoever, these guys are right at the top of the list.  Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, and the rest of the All Japan guys at least tried to make their head drops meaningful to the story of the match.  There isn’t really a story to this match, unless it is the story of how to get severe spinal trauma in 3 easy steps…lift…turn…drop.  With that said, this match is still pretty damn good.  It is exactly the kind a match you want from these two teams.  Sometimes I think us internet wrestling nerds judge matches unfairly, because they don’t live up to our lofty standards of selling, work rate, and psychology.  This is a match that is not trying to be an epic main event, it is trying to be a knockdown drag out slugfest as a change of pace in the middle of a card.  This is a complete success in that regard.  The match ends, because the referee says, “Fuck this, I’m not letting one of you guys die on my watch,” and throws the match out (OK, it was probably a countout, but I don’t speak Japanese and I can’t remember if Scott Steiner was the legal man or not.).  I don’t want every match to be like this, but I definitely don’t mind when these matches pop up on my viewing schedule.  Fun match, I’d give it ****1/4.

 

1/4/93 - Tenryu vs. Choshu (NJPW) ****

 

Unless I’m forgetting something, this is the first Riki Choshu singles match I’ve ever watched.  During the introductions Tenryu looks like he’s simultaneously pissed off to be there, but happy he’s going to be able to slap the shit out of Choshu.  Choshu’s face, on the other hand, looks like he’s thinking, “slap me motherfucker, I double dog dare you, bitch.”  So essentially we have Choshu, who knows he’s going to have to beat Tenryu’s ass for having the audacity to slap him, and Tenryu who is going to slap him any damn way.  It is damn near impossible to be surlier than Tenryu, but Riki Choshu is giving him a run for his money.  This is one of those matches that is difficult to watch, because we’ve heard about the long term damage concussions can cause.  Choshu kicks Tenryu in the head about 50 times like he’s legit trying to knock his head off of his shoulders.  The kicks open a cut over Tenryu’s eyebrow, and unless it is the worst blade job ever he busts him open the hard way.  So if I had to describe Tenryu to someone who has never seen him I’d call him a combination of Mick Foley, Sabu, and Ric Flair.  He is one of those guys who like Foley, almost delights in his ability to take an ass whooping.  His ability as an ass kicker is legendary, but his ability as an ass kickee may very well be his best trait.  Like Sabu, Tenryu’s sloppiness is an integral part of the package.  I don’t even look at his sloppiness as a negative any more, he’s basically wrestling’s drunken master.  Tenryu is also like Flair as he can seemingly work a good to great match with anyone, while simultaneously putting his opponent over, and keeping himself over.  Choshu loses this match, but that is after he gives Tenryu the beating of a life time.  If you were to take a survey of everyone in the crowd that night who won this match, I bet you at least 30% of them would say Choshu.  He came off as the guy who won the fight, despite the fact that he didn’t win the match.   I can’t argue with the **** rating.

 

1/8/93 - Misawa/Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Taue/Akiyama/Fuchi (AJPW) ****1/2

 

Since 1990, in this project’s timeline not the actual year, I’ve watched approximately 518951651891 six man tags from All Japan, they ranged from damn good to some of the best matches of all time.  This match has one huge difference from the previous matches, no Jumbo Tsuruta.  Replacing Jumbo Tsuruta with Jun Akiyama is like dumping Halle Berry for Rhianna.  Halle Berry is on the shortlist of most beautiful women of all time, but Rhianna is really young and her youthful exuberance seems like it would be a whole lot of fun.  We don’t know what the future holds, but I’m not going to complain about hanging out with Rhianna for a while.  Akiyama is a guy who seemed to be really good from the very beginning.  He seemed to be born to be a professional wrestler, and I think that has been his gift and his curse throughout his career.  We always expected a little too much from him, then held it against him when he didn’t quite reach our expectations, and somehow I think we took one of the great wrestling talents for granted.  Akiyama is a great wrestler, just not as great as Jumbo, Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi.  He’s kind of the Anti-Taue in that we underrate him because everything about him says all-time great except he was merely great for his time.  Taue on the other hand was great despite everything about him making you think he’s not.  Akiyama looks the part, acts the part, and pretty much wrestles like the ideal heavyweight wrestler, except he wrestled in a company with arguably the 4 best heavyweight wrestlers of all time.  This is pretty much his “Welcome to the Big Leagues” match, he gets to hit a bunch of cool offense on poor Kikuchi and even gets the pinfall.  I think Dave overrated this match a bit, I’m going to knock off half a star and call this one ****.

 

1/24/93 - Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Akiyama/Ogawa (AJPW) ****3/4

 

If I’ve learned anything from this project it is that the team of Kobashi and Kikuchi are everything I could ever want from a babyface tag team.  This match has three out of the four combatants from my favorite match of 1992, and Akiyama is a clear improvement over Fuchi as a worker.  While I don’t think this will reach the heights of my 1992 match of the year, I fully expect to love this match.  One thing that is going against this match is that Akiyama doesn’t feel like a heel, and while I’m not Jim Ross complaining about heels not acting like heels, Kobashi and Kikuchi aren’t going to be able to reach their sympathetic peak.  This match is less face vs. heel and more veteran vs. rookie.  The story of this match is that Ogawa, and especially Akiyama, are giving just as much as they’re getting against a top team.  So instead of extended heat segments where we think poor Kikuchi is going to die, we get some fun control segments where Akiyama gets to show that he can show that he can compete with the best guys on the card.  This is very good, and Akiyama looks like a million bucks against a team that everyone in the arena loves and respects.  This is how you build up a rookie without destroying the credibility of your veterans.  Akiyama looked like he could was one move away from getting a win, but ultimately was pinned by the more experienced Kikuchi.  Kikuchi gets his win back, but Akiyama’s credibility doesn’t suffer at all.  I think Dave overrated this one as well.  I’m going to rate this one ****1/4.

 

 1/24/93 - Michaels vs. Jannetty (WWF) ****

 

In January of 1992 I was 10-years-old.  My Saturday morning started by getting up before everyone else, eating a huge bowl of cereal, watching cartoons until 12:00 when WWF Superstars came on, then going outside to play around with my friends.  In general, the first friend I’d go see was my next door neighbor Maurice.  Like me, Maurice was obsessed with wrestling.  He was a huge Hogan mark, like I was a huge Savage mark, but we were both huge marks for the Rockers.  The breakup of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty during Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop segment may very well be my biggest wrestling memory as a child.  For a lot of people, Hogan joining the NWO was the most impactful heel turn they can remember, but not for me.  The Rockers were everything I wanted from a team.  They wrestled a fast pace, had cool entrance music, and most importantly had a finishing move that came off of the top rope.  As a kid that was the trifecta for me.  So when Shawn Michaels super kicked Marty Jannetty and threw him through the barbershop window, I didn’t know how to react.  I remember running out of the house to find my friend Maurice, only to notice that he had just ran out of his house looking for me.  We didn’t get our bikes, we didn’t go see if any of our friends were outside, we just sat under a tree and tried to make sense of what we had just witnessed.  I’ll never forget what happened that day, and that is the beauty of being a wrestling fan.  I’m a 34-year-old man who hasn’t watched this match in over 20 years, yet I can’t help but watch it through the eyes of myself as a 10-year-old boy.  First things first, Sherri’s version “Sexy Boy,” is the superior version of Shawn Michaels entrance music.  I get it, singing a song about yourself being sexy is more heelish, but Sherri’s sleazy, sex crazed, vocals just plain sound better.  Shawn Michaels is about as natural a heel as we’ve ever seen, everything about him says, “I swear I’m the shit.”  Marty on the other hand, is fired up babyface all-star.  Marty was a good worker, who never really made it over the hump, but it wasn’t because he didn’t get the fans to buy into his matches.  His face in peril/fired up comeback combination is maybe a step below the Ricky Steamboat level, but it is absolutely what he’s best at.  Who knows what his ceiling would have been if he could have kept his personal life together.  This is outstanding.  Michaels’ heel work and Jannetty’s face work aren’t groundbreaking in any way, they are just really good.  They are just two young guys working to prove that they have what it takes to make that next leap.  This is almost the very definition of a **** match. 

 

This is the kind of thing that is missing from today’s wrestling.  These two were in the midst of a heated feud over a secondary title, and both the feud and the title seem important.  Neither of these guys were ready for the main event, but they both felt like they could make that jump.  They were able to prove that they could carry a storyline, get over, and then put on a really good match.  They passed with flying colors, and Shawn Michaels was essentially a made man after this.  This match still feels special to me.  It isn’t the best match I’ll watch for this project, but it was absolutely perfect for what it was.  This Intercontinental title reign is Shawn Michaels’ main even audition, and while you can tell he has some holes to fill, you can tell he has something.  They have given him an opportunity to work in some high profile matches, while trying figure out his character.  Now the Intercontinental title is a belt for a guy to hold, because he’s not doing anything else.  It should be the belt you give a guy to prove whether or not he can make that next step. 

 

1/25/93 - Flair vs. Perfect (WWF) ****

 

This is the last match of Flair’s early 90s WWF run, and the match that made Raw feel more special than Superstars and the rest of their syndicated shows.  Once again, as a kid I didn’t have access to cable, so I’ve never watched this match.  It’s funny, because everything about this era of WWF is very familiar to me from the ICOPRO banner to the Slim Jim commercial, but there are plenty of matches that I just missed.  This is Flair, a couple of years past his prime, and Mr. Perfect a couple of years after his back injury.  I would have loved to see this around 1989, but both guys are still really good.  Flair’s WWF run gets a lot of criticism, but I think it is a little underrated.  He isn’t 80s NWA Champion Ric Flair, he is playing the turned up WWF cartoon version of Ric Flair.  I didn’t get to see him as NWA touring champion until after his WWF run, so my nostalgia for the Ric Flair of my childhood is this version.  I think he should get credit for adjusting his character to fit into the WWF.  He wasn’t the wrestler he was a few years before, but he was still great.  His promos were different than they were in NWA/WCW but he was still the best promo in the business.  He went from a promotion where wrestling was treated more like a sport to a promotion where being an over the top character was the key to getting over, and he didn’t miss a beat.  As much as I want to like this match, this doesn’t really hold up as a great match in my eyes.  This is kind of a paint by numbers Flair/Perfect match.  I don’t know if I ever watched a match between the two of them before this, but if I had to describe what it would look like this is pretty much exactly what I would have guessed.  It isn’t bad, but for a match that is supposed to be a heated fight for their careers neither guy seems to get out of 2nd gear.  I’m going to give this a ***1/2, because it is good, just not great.

 

 1/29/93 - Mysterio/Calo/Winners vs. Psicosis/Metal/Picudo (AAA) *****

 

I don’t care what happens, Super Calo and Winners entrances make this at least ***.   Rey Mysterio Jr. makes his first appearance on the list, and he’s already super over with this crowd.  There are a couple of things that are going to be very difficult for me to rate this match properly.  The video quality is pretty bad, which would be fine if it didn’t occasionally go completely black.  The other thing is that I don’t really know what the hell the rules are to a trios match.  There have been 4 different pinfalls in the first 5 minutes of this match.  I think the captain has to be pinned for it to count, but if that is the case why pin the other guys in the first place?  There is a really fun sequence during the second fall between Rey and Psicosis where Rey hits about 9545725445 huricanranas and Psicosis bails out of the ring, jumps the railing and hides in the crowd.  The second fall ends after the rudos beat Rey Jr. within an inch of his life and Heavy Metal pins him with an overly complicated bridge.  The third fall features a dive train that shows Winners, who looks like the lost member of DeBarge, do a handspring over the turnbuckle and overshoot the four people there to catch him and eat a face full of guard rail.  Back in Heavy Metal and Rey do some fun rope running spots that ends with Heavy Metal planting Rey with a body slam and pinning him with a bridging T-Bone suplex.  That was fun, I don’t really if it is a good trios match or not, but I enjoyed it.  I’m not going to give this a final rating, because it just plain wouldn’t be fair to the match.  I’d recommend anyone watch it just to see Winners entrance and Rey being Rey even when he looked like he was about 11-years-old.

 

1/30/93 - Misawa/Kawada vs. Williams/Gordy (AJPW) ****1/2

 

OK, I know this is running kind of long, but this is the last match I have for January 1993, and I figured I might as well finish off the month.  I’ll try to keep this short as this is just the last 9 minutes of the match.  This is one of, if not the final team up of Misawa and Kawada.  Those two have been great friends, but they’ll be even better enemies.  Williams and Gordy are basically the baddest assed tag team on the planet at this point, and not even the collective powers of Misawa and Kawada can stop their reign of destruction.  I pretty much only see the finishing stretch of this match, but it essentially a series of hope spots from Misawa and Kawada, and devastating cut offs from Williams and Gordy.  The finish comes when Williams hits two Oklahoma Stampedes on Misawa, and Kawada can’t get in to the ring fast enough to break up the pin.  I can’t speak for the entire match, but the finish of this match makes me believe it could be in the ****1/2 range.

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I finished watching the second TNA show last night. It's so bad. I don't understand how they even made it out of 2002. Yet here they are, still bouncing around in 2016. The first match is Scott Hall vs Jeff Jarrett. It had a run in from R-Truth, a counter run in from Brian Christopher, outside interference from Toby Keith and Jackie Fargo, and a finish with Toby Keith standing right next to Hall pinning Jarrett and Slick Johnson not even acknowledging it. Really sets the tone for the next 15 years.

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2/16/93 - Hase/Kido/Choshu/Iizuka/Fujinami vs. Tenryu/Hara/Fuyuki/Kitahara/Ishikawa (NJPW) ****1/2

 

You are going to have to forgive me, because there are only four guys in this match I know from Adam or Eve, so I’m not going to be able to give this a play by play style review.  This is part of the same ongoing NJPW vs. WAR feud as the Tenryu vs. Choshu match from the January 4th show, and part of me wants to watch the entire thing.  The amount of disdain that the NJPW guys show the WAR guys is palpable.  They can’t wait to slap the shit out of those guys.  The WAR guys all seem like the guys you picked a fight with thinking, they’d back down and then you realize, “Oh shit, these dudes came here looking to fight.”  Not only are they not going to back down, part of you thinks that they tricked you into picking the fight so they would have an excuse to kick your ass.  They look like they’d bump into you suspiciously hard in a crowded bar, and then smirk at you as if to say, “what the fuck are you going to do about it?”  You are standing there with half your drink on your shirt wondering if you are overreacting, while they stand there smirking like a bunch of douchebags.  You’ll never be able to explain why you punched one of those dudes to your friends, your significant other, or worst of all the cops, but you’ll know deep down in your soul, that that asshole had it coming.  I mean just look at that goofy ass dude in the pink and black pants, I bet he’s been punched in the face at least once a month since he was about 12-years-old. There are multiple times in this match where the WAR guys are in control, and they take a second between every move to smirk at the New Japan corner like as if to say, “Yep, we’re the shit.”  It is just really good subtle heel work that makes this match work so well.  You don’t have to know what the hell these dudes are fighting about, which I don’t, but I know I don’t want those assholes to win.  I really liked this match.  The biggest difference between American wrestling and Japanese wrestling in my eyes is that in Japan they let their wrestlers tell their stories in the ring.  Here in the States, they beat you over the head with so much out of the ring storytelling, you feel like you are missing something if you don’t know all of the angles that go into a match.  I could have just landed from Mars and I would have understood everything going on in this match, and I would have enjoyed it.  This is well worth the ****1/2 rating.

 

2/21/93 - Cactus vs. Orndorff (WCW) ****

 

This is fall count anywhere, and we start with Cactus Jack interrupting an Orndorff promo by chasing him to the ring with a shovel.  Foley was so different than anyone else wrestling at the time.  I don’t think he gets credit for creativity.  There is a bump in this match where he does a flip bump over two guardrails, that I’ve never seen before.  He then takes a vertical suplex on the guardrail where his back bends at a horrific angle.  He’s the only person I can think of, who built their entire style upon not protecting himself.  It turns out if you take away the idea of self-preservation, you really open up a huge set of possibilities in wrestling.  We won’t see another Foley, he made every single match seem like anything could happen.  We didn’t know what he would do to his opponent or what he would do to himself.  He’s one of my favorites, but this is closer to ***1/2 to me.  It is entertaining as hell, but ultimately not great.

 

2/21/93 - Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. Lane/Prichard (WCW) ****

 

This is a match that feels more like 1983 than 1993, but if this project has taught me anything it is that good wrestling is timeless.  The difference between this match and a lot of the matches that feel timeless is that this is full of 80s tropes.  The wrestling in this match is perfectly fine, but The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express look and feel like they are from a different era, especially after that crazy Cactus Jack match.  The Heavenly Bodies on the other hand feel like something new.  Replacing Bobby Eaton seems like it would be a bad thing, but Pritchard’s offense is more modern, and feels fresh.  As much as I felt like the RnR’s offense, some of it looked hokey.  Despite that this match works really well.  The tag formula that the Rock and Roll Express and the Midnight Express spent the last decade perfecting, just plain works.  These guys could wrestle 1500 times and all of the matches would probably be good.  This match never feels like it gets out of third gear, but by the end I was 100% involved.  I’d rate this ****, but I’m pretty sure I’ll watch that Cactus Jack match before I’ll watch this again. 

 

2/21/93 - Vader vs. Sting (WCW) ****1/4

 

This is the “White Castle of Fear” Strap Match, which is the single most WCW thing of all time.  Strap matches usually suck, but this is just about as good as they get.  Vader is probably the last person on the planet I’d want to whip me across the back with a leather strap, but Sting’s lashes actually draw blood on Vader’s back (I know it was a blade job, don’t be that guy).  Sting and Vader’s matches were always super physical, and that made all of them compelling.  I don’t know if Sting told Vader to just tee off on him, but Vader brutalizes Sting.  The punches look like they should legit knock Sting unconscious.  Vader hits a top rope splash, a Vaderbomb, and even a top rope Samoan drop.  Sting sells all of them like he’s dying a slow death, and it makes his comebacks feel even better.  For all the brutality that Vader unleashes on Sting, he bumps his ass off for Sting’s offense.  The bump Vader takes on the German Suplex is insane for someone Vader’s size.  That is a lot of weight coming down on the back of his neck and head.  I wonder if that is why Vader is bleeding like a stuck pig from his ear.  Vader’s biggest strength as a wrestler is that he is always willing to take as much as he gives.  No one would blame him for never taking a bump like that, but he it is the exact thing that separates him from everyone else.  These guys have great chemistry, because they are both willing to take a beating to put the other over.  If you want to watch two really good wrestlers beat each other half to death for your entertainment, this is the match for you.  This match is right around ****1/4, but like the Cactus Jack vs. Paul Orndorff match you’ll enjoy this more than some matches that are technically better.

 

2/25/93 - Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Patriot/Eagle (AJPW) ****

 

Do you want to know how great the team of Kobashi and Kikuchi is?  This dude Eagle, is a journeyman named George Hines, who got to have this match because he was in the same place at the same time as these tag team gods.  Don’t get me wrong, Patriot and Eagle play their parts here, but there isn’t anyone reading this that would spend any time watching George Hines wrestle if it wasn’t for our Japanese heroes.  I don’t know how they do it, but these All Japan tag matches all have incredible finishing sequences.  They get you to buy into all the near falls.  They know when and where to use breakups and kickouts to build the most drama.  I think that is the key.  The use of either of those devices can get played out in a match, but when used strategically it pulls you in more that it pushes you out.  When someone hits a really big move, they’ll use a breakup 9 out of 10 times, because you wouldn’t buy a kickout.  Here’s the thing though, that 1 time out of the 10 always feels earned.  Another thing they do to pull you into their matches is that All Japan has a clear hierarchy.  You know where people stand.  Misawa is at the top, the Kawada, then Kobashi, then Taue, etc.  You know that there is no way that a couple of gaijin jobbers could never beat Kobashi and Kikuchi.  Then Del Wilkes hits his full nelson slam (Someone should bring that move back, it looks PAINFUL) and pins Kikuchi clean in the middle of the ring, and you damn near shit yourself.  This is a really fun, if not formulaic, tag match.  It feels like a match you’ve seen a thousand times, but that is why the surprise ending works so well.  You watch these matches, and you know all the beats, but then something happens that makes you question everything you believed about how these matches work.  If you love All Japan tag matches, add this to your watchlist.  It isn’t the best All Japan tag match, but it’s probably better than the last 10 tag matches you’ve watched.  I agree with Meltzer’s **** rating. 

 

2/28/93 - Fuchi vs. Kikuchi (AJPW) ****1/4

 

Kikuchi starts fast in this one hitting Fuchi with his calf kick, a German suplex, a missile dropkick, and another missile dropkick from the apron to the floor.  I never understood why someone would do a missile dropkick to the floor, because there is no possible way the kicker isn’t hurt more than the kickee.  Kikuchi is right up there with Hiroshi Hase as guys who under any other circumstance would have been major stars except for the circumstance they were in.  Fuchi is on the list of dudes who you irrationally hate, and when someone asks you why you say, “Just look at him.”  Kikuchi gets to hit all his offense right in the beginning, but when Fuchi gets on top he tries to kill poor Kikuchi with about 826289165 billion backdrop suplexes that drop him right on his head.  Has anyone seen Kikuchi recently?  Is he in good health?  The ass kickings he takes in these early 90s All Japan matches make me think that he should probably sign up to donate his brain to science after his death.  This match straight up turns into a train of head drops, that Kikuchi has to try to get up from.  Eventually, one of those suplexes is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and Fuchi pins him.   I don’t really know why this is this good, when the second half is essentially the same move over and over again, but this works.  Fuchi is a horrific asshole, and Kikuchi is the plucky hero.  As much as you want the hero to win, sometimes assholes come out on top.  I’d probably lower this to ****, but I can’t complain too much.

 

2/28/93 - Hansen vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****3/4

 

So that last match is one of the most brutal matches I’ve ever watched, but I fully expect this one to be more hard hitting.  These two may honestly be the stiffest working wrestlers in history, and taking it easy isn’t really in either guy’s repertoire.  If you are reading this, and haven’t seen this match, stop reading right now and go watch it.  I don’t know what Kawada did to gain Hansen’s respect, but it is very clear that Hansen respects Kawada immensely.  Hansen, who is about as made as guys get at this point in his career, doesn’t have to take this kind of beating.  Not only does he not need to take this kind of beating, he doesn’t need to pull out all stops on offense either.  He does both here, and does it in a way that makes Kawada feel like the most dangerous man on the planet.  Hansen does all his usual brawling, but he adds a little something extra to this like a middle rope elbow drop and A FUCKING TOPE.  This is the kind of match that only two people who really trust each other can have.  These two beat the living hell out of each other for damn near a half an hour.  Just the kicks in this match are enough to make you feel like these two are killing each other, but then you see the suplex on the floor and the lariat that Hansen hits so hard he flies out of the ring, and you know you are watching something special.  This is one of those matches where you look at Dave’s ****3/4 ranking and you think he’s been smoking crack, because he didn’t give it *****.  If you are a fan of either guy, this is the exact match you’d want them to wrestle.

 

2/28/93 - Misawa vs. Taue (AJPW) ****

 

The opening visual of the three belts of the Triple Crown dangling from Misawa’s hand is about as cool of an image as you can ever see.  Add Misawa’s casual demeanor, and you have a full understanding that Misawa is the man, he knows he’s the man, and everyone watching knows he’s the man whether they like it or not.  He just looks so comfortable being the champion.  When his music hits, he looks around the room, stretches his neck, and then takes an extra second before he makes his way to the ring.  He carries himself like someone who is walking out of the house on their way to work.  He has work to do, and it doesn’t matter who is waiting for him in the ring, he’s going to get the job done.  The way a wrestler carries himself is probably the most underrated aspect of their work, but when it’s done right you know it.  This project has opened my eyes to a lot of wrestlers I had never given much thought to, but I think that my opinion of Taue has improved the most.  I used to think he was just the 4th guy filling out the top of the All Japan card tag matches, but now I see that he was a world class worker in his own right.  If the All Japan guys were a gang, Taue would be the muscle.  Sure Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi were more than capable of handling business, but if you want a message sent you send Taue.  If you are in business with the All Japan mob, Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi are the charismatic guys who you think are your friends.  When it is time to pay, you don’t feel so bad giving those guys your money.  One day you fall on hard times, and you don’t quite have the money to pay your monthly tribute.  You try to negotiate with your three friends, and hope they understand.  The next day, Taue shows up to your house and you know he’s not your friend.  He’s there to make you pay, one way or the other.  So this match is Misawa being the charismatic ace of the company, and Taue being mindless killing machine, brutalizing him.  Taue can’t win a wrestling match against Misawa, but can win a fight.  The story of this match is Misawa trying to withstand Taue’s onslaught long enough for him to make a mistake and he can take over.  Taue hits a brutal looking powerbomb on the floor, followed by another brutal powerbomb in the ring, but ultimately can’t put Misawa away.  Misawa comes back and hits a pair of Tiger Drivers for the win.  This match was better than I expected, as I hadn’t heard much talk about this particular match.  I think the thing that hurt this match the most is that it followed that Hansen vs. Kawada match.  I watched this match a couple days after I watched the previous match, and I feel like this match has been overlooked and underrated.  This is better than a **** match, I would give it ****1/2.  It is crazy that these two matches happened on the same night.     

 

Akira Maeda vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (6/12/86 TV)

 

This is a match I’ve heard about, but never watched.  I’m going to try to sprinkle in some matches from time to time, but I’m playing it by ear.  As of right now, I’ve seen maybe 10 Fujinami matches and exactly zero Maeda matches.  Fujinami is basically the ultimate fiery babyface.  His best trait is that he can simultaneously play the underdog, while being the dominant wrestling champion.  Maeda has more of a shoot style than a traditional wrestling style.  For comparisons sake, think of him as a bigger, stronger, Koji Kanemoto without the moonsaults.  His kicks and submissions all look super crisp, and very nasty.  This is kind of like a championship level MMA fight in execution.  They both are good at everything; they just have to figure out what parts of the fight they have the slight edge.  Both guys are too good of strikers to just knock the other out.  Both guys are too good of wrestlers for them to take the other guy down and hold them there.  Both guys are too good with submissions to grab a hold of an arm and make the other guy tap.  They have to figure out what strikes the other has a hard time defending, what suplex or slam the other guy isn’t prepared for, or what submission they can use to set up something else down the line.  While Fujinami holds his own admirably, this is clearly a Maeda match, and that is the key to the story.  Maeda takes Fujinami for a swim in the deep waters of Japanese Shoot-Style wrestling, and Fujinami has to find his way to shore.  Early in the match Fujinami and Maeda exchange holds, until Maeda locks in a heel hook that compromises Fujinami’s leg.  Fujinami sells the injured leg about as well as I’ve ever seen.  He sells when Maeda attacks him, and sells when he attacks Maeda.  For the rest of the match some of Fujinami’s energy has to be dedicated to defending his injured leg.  Having to protect the leg injury opens Fujinami up for the rest of Maeda’s offense.  Maeda, capitalizes on the injury by kicking Fujinami’s legs which pulls his defense down, and then he kicks Fujinami in the head.  Fujinami makes multiple comebacks, but Maeda cam always go back to the leg to cut him off.  The match ends with Maeda hitting a nasty spin kick to Fujinami, that busts him open hard way.  Maeda frantically tries to put him away, but gets overzealous.  The match ends after both men go for spin wheel kicks, and can’t answer a 10-count.  This match is pretty much perfect, *****.

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Dave always preferred Kobashi to Kawada (and Misawa) because of Kobashi's use of big flashy moves and passion. But, yeah, the Kawada/Hansen match that you watched is one of the best I've ever seen and is way more violent than the Kobashi match you'll get to soon enough IIRC. It doesn't have quite the dramatic and cinematic ending as the Kobashi match, but it's a more violent ending. The lariat from the inside taking Stan to the outside is the stuff of nightmares and Kawada sold it like death. I prefer the Kawada match just like I prefer Kawada on the whole. 

 

Perfect description of Misawa. A lot of that demeanor is innate but I think he also learned a great deal from the feud with Jumbo, who had a somewhat similar demeanor (but with more fire, particularly once matches got into fourth and fifth gear). The personality clash between Misawa and Kawada is one of the best things in the world of wrestling and you'd never need to hear them talk or do an angle to establish themselves. Just pure masters, the both of them. 

 

Taue got the most out of the least in terms of the 4 pillars of heaven. He was a way smarter worker than Kobashi, doing a lot of the small things better than Kenta. If you make it to '95 (getting close!), then you'll see the heights of Taue's career. He is the MVP of the best tournament in wrestling history (Champions Carnival '95), takes part in a ***** classic in his first really, really big moment, and then is a key part of the greatest match of all timez. He has big moves (the powerbomb on the outside, the chokeslam off the apron) but is often the most understated, least flashy of the 4 and is so fucking great in his own right.

 

Reading this makes me want to get out my 92 and 93 DVDs and give them a watch. It's just such a huge undertaking.

 

And, yeah, Fujinami is criminally underrated outside of Japan it seems. His technical ability is top drawer, as you say he's got the FIRE, he sells his ass off, and he's pretty damned smart.  I remember I bought all of the '84 Japanese TV off of Jeff Lynch like 10 years ago and I was just blown away by this phenomenal Fujinami/Backlund match. Both guys were going 100 mph on the mat and performing eye popping feats. Then the show ends and we don't get to see the second half of the match. :( They had other matches and from what I've seen they weren't quite on that level.

 

Maeda was the guy people would learn about because he shot on Andre and he kicked Choshu in the face as hard as he could, but he also was one of the best wrestlers of the '80s and without him, I wonder if PRIDE ever would have opened and if UFC would be where it is today. He was a fantastic pro wrestler and a pioneer in worked shoots and eventually shoots. If you like what you see here, you really ought to one day track down the UWF series because Maeda (and Takada, and Yamazaki, and Fujiwara, and a bunch of other awesome dudes including young Minoru Suzuki) were on fire for a stretch before egos and money got in the way. 

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2/20/89 - Flair vs. Steamboat (NWA) *****

 

Before I started this project, I was trying to figure out how I was going to take best advantage of the WWE Network.  I initially was going to watch every show on the network in order, but I got bored with that almost immediately.  So, I was just watching stuff randomly until August 2014 when a poster on the DVDVR Message Board named Mokujin Scott posted a list of every match Dave Meltzer rated **** or better.   That post inspired me to start this project.  Since then I’ve been going through the list and writing a little about every single match I can find on the WWE Network, NJPW World, YouTube, or elsewhere on the internet.  Here’s the thing though, the last few matches I watched before I started this project was the 1989 Flair vs. Steamboat series.  So, when I got to this part of the list, I didn’t really feel like watching them again.  So it has been well over a year, and now I think I’m ready to go back and give my thoughts about one of the best rivalries in the history of wrestling. 

 

The first match is from Chi-Town Rumble, and sets the pace for the matches to come.  One of the biggest criticisms of Flair’s work is that he is too go go go.  People think that he’s doing so much that nothing he does really resonates, but I think that is a bit flawed as a criticism.  Flair’s matches are worked at a very fast pace, but he doesn’t waste a lot of moves in that pace.  His moveset works well with the pace, because most of his moves are designed to wear you out not knock you out.  If he was throwing a bunch of suplexes and slams, I’d agree that his pace would hurt his matches.  He doesn’t do that, he works holds, throws chops, and drops knees.  When a big move is hit they do let it breathe, and something as simple as a vertical suplex feels like a credible near fall.  This match is worked at a breakneck pace, but I never felt like they wasted a single move.  It felt like each guy was trying to push the other to a point where they made a mistake, and they could take advantage.  The finish to this match finds both guys working at a frenetic pace trying to hit the one move that will put his opponent away.  Neither of these guys really have a bomb, and that helps with the match.  If one guy had a move that was a guaranteed knockout blow, this match wouldn’t resonate.  Since both guys have to win with an accumulation of punishment, the small package that Steamboat wins with feels satisfying.  This felt like a match where one mistake could end the match not one move, and Ric Flair made that mistake.  Both guys pushed were trying to get flash pins from the very first rope running sequence, and it only feels right that the match ends on a flash pin.  This is easily *****.

 

3/18/89 - Flair vs. Steamboat (NWA) *****

 

This is the least known match in the series.  I’m watching a handheld version from Landover, Maryland that I found on Dailymotion.  Both the Audio and video quality is pretty bad, but I’m willing to make these sacrifices for my 2 or 3 readers.  One of the biggest disadvantages the current area has compared to the past is that we don’t get to see matches like this on house shows.  The last house show I went to was fine, but the most memorable thing on the entire show was Big Show doing comedy shtick.  There was a time when the main events on house shows were what made the company money, and matches like this were far more prevalent.  I don’t know what else is in the conversation, but this very well be the best house show match ever.  This is outstanding, but I’m not going to rate it.  The audio cuts out for most of the ending stretch and really distracted me from what was going on.  I will say that this match is readily available and worth tracking down, but is probably more supplemental viewing than prerequisite viewing.

 

4/2/89 - Flair vs. Steamboat (NWA) *****

 

This is the 2 out of 3 falls match from Clash of the Champions VI.  This has a one hour time limit for Ricky Steamboat’s World Heavyweight Championship.  This match starts with a different dynamic than the first, as Steamboat seems to have gained confidence when he won the championship.  Flair, who is used to being the champion, tries to intimidate Steamboat.  Steamboat, with the championship confidence, slaps him right in the face.  Steamboat also works in a much more methodical pace.  It makes sense, because he’s defending his championship.  He knows that if he can just outlast Flair, he goes home with the belt.  So he controls Flair with a series of headlocks.  Every rope running sequence, every chain wrestling sequence, and every mistake Flair makes leads to Steamboat grabbing another headlock and slowing the pace.  If the first match in the series was a sprint, this one is a marathon.  When Flair takes over he picks the pace up, and it is clear that the quicker pace has taken Steamboat out of his game.  In a call back to the finish of the first match, Flair goes for a Figure Four and Steamboat counters into a small package.  This time, Flair is ready and shifts his weight in order to pin Steamboat’s shoulders for the first fall. 

 

The second fall starts, and Steamboat starts to show a sense of urgency.  Flair takes advantage, and the roles reverse from the first fall.  Flair tries to ground Steamboat and drop some knees to Steamboat’s head.  Steamboat, knowing what is coming, dodges the second kneedrop and then attacks Flairs knee like an Africanized, Brazilian bee.  He drops about 150 elbows to his knee and locks in a Figure Four, but Flair gets to the ropes.  Steamboat can feel the pressure of being down a fall, and is trying everything to even the score at a fall a piece.  The problem is that he prepared to wrestle at a slower pace, and the fast pace leaves Steamboat prone to mistakes.  Flair, is too good of a wrestler for Steamboat to get careless and he takes over.  Flair trying to end this quickly and win back the title that he’s held multiple times takes Steamboat out to the floor, bodyslams him and whips him into the guardrail.  Flair sees blood, and knows that he could be moments away from regaining his title.  He goes to the top rope, but Steamboat cuts him off and hits a superplex.  Steamboat then locks in a double chicken wing and Flair is forced to submit.

 

The third fall starts and both men are exhausted and desperate, but both men can smell victory.  Flair goes for the leg early, but Steamboat is able to cut him off.  Steamboat is rolling until he tries to hit a high knee in the corner, and Flair dodges leaving Steamboat’s knee draped over the top rope.  Having an injured knee in a fight with Ric Flair is like having a sexual secret in a fight with Amber Rose.  He’s going to attack that injury with no regard for your life, career, or quality of life.  He goes after that leg and everyone in the building believes it’s over.  Flair goes to the Figure Four and locks it in.  Steamboat withstands the hold for longer than anyone thought was possible, but is able to roll to the ropes.  Steamboat and Flair then put on one of the best finishing sequences ever.  They pull out all the stops, Flair even hits a top rope crossbody.  The match ends when Flair presses his luck and goes back to the top rope, leading Steamboat to press slam him to the mat.  Steamboat locks in the double chicken wing once more, but his knee gives away.  Both men’s shoulders are on the mat, but Steamboat raises his just before the referee counts for three…but the referee doesn’t see Flair’s foot on the ropes.  Winner and still champion Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.  This is one of the best matches of all time and once again an easy *****.

 

5/7/89 - Flair vs. Steamboat (NWA) *****

 

If the first match was a sprint, and the Clash match was a marathon, this one is essentially both.  The first two matches were two guys trying to outwrestle each other, this one feels more like a fight.  The first couple matches they felt each other out with chain wrestling, but this one is chop exchanges.  Both men are also taking more risks.  They’ve tried to outlast each other, but this time they’re trying to take the other guy out.  Steamboat has it in his mind that he was able to make Flair submit with the double chicken wing, and focuses his attack on Flair’s arms and upper back.  Flair, a man desperate to regain the title, pulls out everything in his arsenal.  Flair hits suplexes, knee drops, and every dirty trick he knows.  Steamboat launches himself out of the ring multiple times going for high impact, running moves.  Flair gets thrown off the top rope trying to hit a big move to put Steamboat away.  The difference between this match and the previous matches in this trilogy is that these guys know that they can’t wait for the other guy to make a mistake.  They can’t guarantee that they will be able to last that long.  This is how to have a rubber match.  The key to this match is that both guys doubt whether or not they have what it takes to beat the other, and they are doing everything to prove to themselves that they are the best.  Flair and Steamboat take everything from the first two matches and turn it up to 11 for this one.  If the first two matches taught us anything it is that Steamboat is at his best when he’s working at a more measured pace.  When he gets caught up in emotions, and goes away from his gameplan that is when he makes mistakes.  Steamboat gets Flair hurt, and goes to the top rope.  Flair sees him and falls into the ropes causing Steamboat to fall from the top rope to the floor.  The fall caused Steamboat to wrench his knee and Flair can smell the blood in the water.  Flair works over the leg, and it is time for the Figure Four Leglock.  Steamboat gets to the ropes, but the damage has been done.  Flair continues to go for the leg, but Steamboat hits an enziguri.  Steamboat goes for a bodyslam, but his leg buckles allowing Flair to pin Steamboat with an inside cradle.  Once again this is an easy ***** it’s just a masterful match.

 

This is the best series of matches in the history of American wrestling.  All three matches work alone, but are even better as a series.  The matches build upon each other in a way that makes the previous matches even better.  I think the best of the three is the Clash of the Champion match from April 2, 1989.  It kind of a microcosm of the entire series.  It doesn’t really tell the entire story, but if you were stuck in some sort of ridiculous situation where you could only watch one, that is the one you should pick.  I know everyone seems to have their personal favorite of these matches, but the Clash match is an hour long epic that doesn’t feel like a single second is wasted.  If you are a wrestling fan and never watched these matches, do yourself a favor and dedicate an afternoon to them.  If you haven’t seen them in a while, go ahead and give them another look.  These matches are timeless, and like a great album or your favorite book, you find something new to like about them with every viewing.

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Wahoo McDaniel / Buzz Sawyer vs The Road Warriors 1/8/84

 

I think I'm going bald.  Buzz Sawyer was bald.  Buzz was the end all badass of badassess.  Will I ever be as badass as Buzz?

 

Ahem.

 

This is nine minutes of awesome.  In my opinion, the Road Warriors sell enough.  Crap ending, naturally, when Wahoo smacks the ref.  I can't be disappointed.  That fantastic Mid Atlantic crowd that would be gone within five years.

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3/27/93 - Austin/Pillman vs. Steamboat/Douglas (WCW) ****1/4

 

I’m watching this on YouTube and it is joined in progress.  I wish they’d add these old WCW TV shows onto the network, but I said that about old Nitros…which I never watch.  This is a really good television match between two really good teams.  The Hollywood Blondes are great heels, and Ricky Steamboat could form a great babyface tag team with a lump of coal.  This is an interesting time in Steve Austin’s career.  Apparently everyone except the WCW bookers could see that this dude was extremely talented, but he still wasn’t quite ready for prime time.  He bumps like a lunatic, which is both his biggest strength and weakness.  He isn’t quite Dolph Ziggler, but his over bumping is a little obnoxious.  I recently wrote about a Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty match, and this is a really good parallel to that match.  In WWF, Shawn Michaels looked like the next really good wrestler.  They put him in positions to become a better wrestler working in high profile programs.  In WCW, Austin was in the same position as Michaels, except they cut his legs off every single time he showed some potential.  Watching this match, it isn’t hard to believe that Steve Austin became the biggest star in the history of wrestling.  He looks like a young actor who has a bit part in a really good movie with an ensemble cast.  At some point in the movie you realize that no matter how good anyone else is, you notice yourself paying all of your attention to whatever the hell he’s doing.  WCW were sitting on a legitimate cash cow, and they decided to fire him over the phone.  I was ready to call this overrated until the last five minutes when this went from fun TV match to legitimately great TV match.  Everything from the heat segment on Shane Douglas to the end was great, especially the Ricky Steamboat hot tag.  This is one of those TV matches that you remember for years like Bret Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid or that one time Shawn Michaels superkicked Shelton Benjamin.  ****1/4 is right on the money.

 

3/27/93 - Misawa vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****1/2

 

This is the second match in the best feud of all time.  In the first match, Misawa was the newly crowned ace of All Japan.  Kawada, his friend and ally at the time, pushed him to the limit but was ultimately defeated.  That victory solidified Misawa as the ace of the company.  With Jumbo gone, Kawada found himself cast in the role as second banana, the same role that he helped Misawa overcome.  That match was like a friendly match between two friends going after the same prize, the cracks in the friendship show a little more here.  The strikes are a little stiffer, the submissions are wrenched a little harder, and there isn’t much regard for their opponent’s safety.  It starts off subtle, until Kawada grabs Misawa by the head runs across the ring and slams his face into the turnbuckle.  After that it is clear that Kawada isn’t here to be anyone’s second banana.  I think the friendship officially ends when Kawada has Misawa in the corner and slaps him across the face.  They get into a slap exchange, and everything turns up just a tad bit.  This is also the first match that feels like the 90s All Japan that I think about when I think of All Japan in the 90s.  Misawa’s use of the Tiger Driver, and Kawada’s use of the Power Bomb as set up moves as well as finishers is on full display in this match.  Both men hit their biggest bomb multiple times, without getting the pin.  There is one more thing in this match that All Japan becomes known for, and that is Kawada hitting Misawa with a Backdrop Driver that drops him right on his head.  The Backdrop Driver leads directly to the finish as Kawada follows it with his jumping enziguri, which Misawa blocks and counters with a running elbow for the 1-2-3.  OK, so this match is the bridge between the Jumbo era and the Misawa era as far as in-ring style is concerned.  The finisher spamming, the knockout strikes, and the head drops that we will become staples of the All Japan style can all be traced back to this match.  All of those things had been used before, but this is the first match that feels like they were all put together.  This is a great match, but I have a feeling that the 1994 match will be even better.  I’d agree with Dave, this is right around ****1/2. 

 

4/2/93 - Hokuto vs. Kandori (AJW) *****

 

The match starts with Hokuto and Kandori jawing at each other across the ring, until Hokuto has enough and punches her square in the face.  If this was an 80s movie, Kandori would have been the awkward girl who just started at a new school, and Hokuto would be the bitchy, chain smoking chick who gave her a hard time.  What Hokuto doesn’t know is that Kandori is at her school, because she put the last chick who fucked with her in a coma.  One thing missing from modern wrestling are matches that feel like fights.  These two are in a wrestling match, doing wrestling moves, but they’re doing them with a feeling of bloodlust that makes everything feel more intense.  Kandori, who is just vicious piledrives Hokuto on a table, and like all Japanese tables it doesn’t break…but there is a nasty looking dent in it where Hokuto’s head hit.  Hokuto gets up and her crimson mask is wearing a crimson mask.  This is about a 9.99999999 on the Muta scale.  When Hokuto takes over she drags Kandori around the arena, and now both women are bleeding.  These two beat the holy hell out of each other in a way that is almost uncomfortable.  Every strike in this match looks like it hurts, every submission looks like it’s being torqued to the maximum extent, (Hokuto either has very flexible shoulders or a torn rotator cuff), and every suplex lands right on the back of the recipient’s head.  This could very well be the most vicious brawl I’ve ever seen in wrestling; it is just so damn visceral.  Hokuto comes out like the cocky asshole only for Kandori to make every attempt to end her career.  The Tombstone on the table, the Thunder Fire Powerbomb, and the 1591895016500065 arm locks all feel like they were payback for the very first punch thrown in the match.  Hokuto, who clearly underestimated Kandori, was playing catch up from the moment her initial sucker punch landed.  If you like crazy, bloody violence that is right on the edge of irresponsible, find this match and give it a watch.  This match probably isn’t for everybody, but it damn sure was for me.  I’m going to give it the full *****.

 

4/2/93 - Suzuki/Ozaki vs. Inoues (AJW) *****

 

Is there anyone who looks sweeter and more innocent than Takako Inoue?  Well it turns out that her sweet demeanor in the prematch interview doesn’t really transfer over to the match.  I don’t know if she’s married, but I do know that if she is, she wears the pants in the relationship (I also have a feeling that his obedience is rewarded).  You do not want those Takako Inoue problems.  Ozaki looks almost exactly like a neighbor I had.  Except, my neighbor’s husband was a huge asshole, and I think it is safe to say Ozaki wouldn’t put up with his shit.  I remember me and my roommate were going to the elevator, and she was struggling with three big, heavy boxes and a television.  We helped her take them to her door, and went downstairs.  When we got off the elevator, who did we see casually walking empty handed towards us, her husband.  This poor lady weighed at most 110 lbs. and he had her trying to carry a bunch of shit while he was lollygagging around without a care in the world.  I really wanted to punch that dude, but who am I to get involved in other people’s relationships.  Oh wait, there is a match going on.  This match is kind of strange as Kyoko Inoue and Cuty Suzuki are wrestle like babyfaces while their partners behave like assholes.  So both teams get shine segments and heat segments and you kind of find yourself rooting for different teams at different times of the match.  I may or may not have been rooting for Ozaki and Takako when I should have been rooting for Kyoto and Cuty.  This is more of a fun match than a great match.  I really liked it, but didn’t feel like it was going anywhere until the finishing stretch.  I’m going to give this ****. 

 

4/11/93 - Toyota/Yamada vs. Kansai/Ozaki (AJW) *****

 

This is a rematch from my favorite Joshi match from 1992.  The match starts with Dynamite Kansai hitting a Splash Mountain Bomb and pinning Yamada in 12 seconds.  Manami Toyota, who is dressed like Mrs. Clause if she joined the North Pole Crips, starts the second fall with about 76 drop kicks in a row trying to get a quick pinfall to even the score.  That leads to a face in peril sequence that has a really cool spot where Ozaki has Toyota in a camel clutch and Kansai hits her with a running kick to the chest.  I don’t have breasts so I can’t say this for certain, but having Kansai run and kick your titty like a field goal has to hurt like hell.  Matter of fact all of the offense in this match looks horrifically painful.  In recent years there has been a pretty sizable pushback on MOVEZ.  I fully understand that the amount of moves in a match and the quality of a match aren’t necessarily related, but I’m also a man who is very fond of fun.  This is a match that is 35 minutes of non-stop MOVEZ, and I don’t care what any of you internet geeks say, this shit is a whole lot of fun.  I don’t ever need to see another running drop kick sequence from Toyota, but I’m not going to pretend like that quebrada from the inside of the second rope to the floor wasn’t fucking sweet (Honestly, I don’t understand how she’s still alive.  I’d say her dives are up there the The Great Sasuke for being more dangerous for the diver than the divee.).  I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there is space for everything in wrestling.  This match lacks selling, is low on psychology, and worked at a pace where none of the big spots really have time to breathe, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If this project has taught me anything it is that every style brings something to the table.  The more wrestling I watch, the less I want it to be limited to the same style.  I like that joshi matches are a mile a minute, and full of crazy offense.  Criticizing them for not selling or their lack of traditional ring psychology is like criticizing Mariano Rivera for not having enough complete games.  He was a closer, he wasn’t even trying to throw complete games.  This match is a blast, and I’ve somehow turned into a junior level joshi fanboy (I’m a senior level Takako Inoue fanboy, and I’ve only seen one match of hers.).  I don’t think this is quite as good as their match from last year, so I’m going to give this ****1/2.  That match had a little more juice to it than this one, but this is still a match you should seek out.

 

4/12/93 - Kawada vs. Taue (AJPW) ****1/2

 

You know how Disney decided to put out side movies between main Star Wars movies?  This match feels like that.  This is clearly not as hate filled as their feud was a couple of years ago, but it isn’t quite their tag team run either.  It is just two wrestlers who had a feud, are kind of over it, wrestling a match that is well worth watching.  This is basically supplemental viewing.  You may get something out of it, but if you skipped it you wouldn’t feel like you didn’t know what was going on.   This is really good, Kawada and Taue wrestle to a stalemate and shake hands after the time limit lapses.  This is full of fun counter wrestling, that really puts over how well these two know each other.  It also gives context to the story of how these two heated rivals ended up a tag team.  So what I’m saying is that I don’t need to know how Han Solo and Chewbacca became a team, but if they decide to make a movie about it I hope it is this good.  I’m going to rate this one ****1/4.  I honestly had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate this, because it just doesn’t feel like a big deal.  It feels like a match that was a main event at Summerslam two years prior, but they ran it back as an opener at Fastlane, because neither of them had a feud going on.  It’s good, but it wasn’t long ago when I was watching them trying to kill each other.

 

4/12/93 - Kobashi vs. Misawa (AJPW) ****3/4

 

If the last match felt like a side story, this one feels like a prequel (Not a Star Wars prequel, because that would be bad.).  I believe this is the first time a match between these two has come up during this project, but I know for a fact it won’t be the last.  This match is kind of feels like Misawa is picking on his little brother, but things go a little too far and they start fighting.  The fight isn’t bad enough that it hurts their relationship in any meaningful way, but don’t think either of them are going to forget it happened.  The version I watched of this is just the last 10 minutes, which were excellent, but it ended before I think it built to anything more than a fun match between two great wrestlers.  I’m going to give this ****, because it never pushes past the threshold between very good and great.

 

4/14/93 - Kobashi vs. Kawada (AJPW) *****

 

Along with the previous two matches, I’m starting to feel at home with the All Japan era that got me hooked on Japanese Heavyweight wrestling.  I don’t think I had seen any of these before, but these are the guys who are going to be the most important for the rest of the 1990s.  To continue with the already tired Star Wars metaphor, I think I can ultimately call this series of matches The Clone Wars.  I don’t know if anyone else watched that cartoon series, but it was excellent.  It was made to fill in the gaps between Episode II and Episode III, but in my opinion it surpassed both movies.  I won’t say that these matches surpass either the feud with Jumbo or everything that comes after these matches, but these matches provide really good background that enriches every guys story as a whole.  This is the best match of the three.  Kawada’s selling and Kobashi’s fire are just a really good combination.  These two are rivals, but their rivalry always takes a backseat to the Misawa vs. Kawada feud.  Part of me wishes what would have happened if these two were the focus on All Japan, because they feel like much more natural enemies.  They are kind of polar opposites in look, personality, and wrestling styles.  Kawada is toothless and homely, while Kobashi is the pretty boy babyface.  Kawada is surly and Kobashi is charming.  Kawada is a straight forward, violence, machine, and Kobashi is constantly looking for newer, flashier moves and techniques in able to compete.  They have really good chemistry that I don’t know if we ever get to see their rivalry reach its full potential.  This was once again clipped down to 10 minutes or so, but this one feels more complete than the others.  I’m going to call this one ****1/2, not perfect, but undeniably great.

 

So, with March Madness coming up and the Greatest Wrestler Ever project at another board, I’m going to go on a little bit of a detour.  I’m going to be watching a lot of wrestling with the goal of evaluating wrestlers instead of matches.  I’m going to try to write about a bunch of different guys, and hopefully I’ll find some new favorites.

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Monsoon Classic uploaded a bunch of matches from the rare NWA Super Bouts show in '86/87. Working my way through some of that stuff and there's a lot of cool stuff that I've never seen. Lots of good Windham, Tully, Arn stuff in various combinations.

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Monsoon Classic posted this one today:

 

 

I had always wanted to see footage of the non-WWF companies joint venture, and this is the first time I've seen anything. I find it interesting that the voice-over announcer is Jack Reynolds, who was an announcer for Eddie Einhorn's IWA and for a short time, did color commentary with Jesse Ventura in the WWF, which was right around the time that video was made.

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Just found this - Bob Backlund (spelled Bob Backland) announced as the WWF Champion on a Pro Wrestling USA episode. Not only was he no longer the champion, I'm really surprised about the WWF mention. He gives a rather eerie promo here.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Amazingly, I am caught up on both NXT and Lucha Underground. AND I submitted my GWE list. So... I'm not sure what to do with myself.

Probably watch more Franz Van Buyten and then get frustrated with myself that I didn't find a place for him..

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On 1/10/2016 at 5:55 PM, Shane said:

Watching a few episodes of USA Championship Wrestling from March '88 I stumbled across on YouTube. They had me at Johnny/Davey Rich and Scott Armstrong as a group called "The Party Boys." I'm also way into any new Ron Wright stuff I find.

Is this an offshoot of Continental? Not really familiar with the company, but Solie is on commentary duty with Ron Fuller and there's a lot of the same crew.

I'm really late but Ron Fuller started USA Championship when David Woods wanted to buy Continental. He sold him the Alabama towns and started up his own group based around Knoxville as his biggest city. USA ran some other towns Fuller used to run before the All Star split killed off that area like Harlan KY and Johnson City TN. USA only lasted around 6 months or so and then Fuller sold it to David Woods as well.

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