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Matt Watches 1989 AJPW on a Treadmill


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Watching The Roadies in Japan is just tremendous fun. They had such a great aura and were so incredibly over everywhere they went. You can hear how excited the Japanese crowd were to see them. 

I was lucky enough to get to hang out and go to a couple of shows with Yuji Tsuruta back when he was living in Osaka around 2013. He told me a story of watching his dad fight the Road Warriors when he was a kid (perhaps that very same match that you posted)! He asked his dad why he didn't beat them and Jumbo's reply was basically "Did you see the size of those guys?" and Yuji, at the time, was like "Yeah, I guess that makes sense."

There have been wrestlers since then that are even bigger or more muscular than them, and there have been guys their size who were better at the technical parts of pro wrestling... but, man, they were just a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Nobody can touch the mystique they had at their peak. Just unreal. 

(That's Yuji on the right):

936210_10151595205120358_1674879217_n.jp

Edited by gordi
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The inflatable pool is put away as it's become autumn, thankfully. The treadmill is as massive as a Road Warrior and I am not moving that thing again.

Animal just looks huge in these matches, as big as I remember seeing him. Hawk insists on doing the press and he always struggles a bit with it but no one cares. Very cool as always, Gordi.

So I did a double check and I realize I've missed a few random undercard TV matches here and there and Roy has all the TV shows up on his channel, so given that my laptop is still down, I'll go through those next. 

Edited by Matt D
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5 hours ago, Matt D said:

This was basically a jobber match where Nakano slipped on a banana peel and the jobber somehow won. 

You know, if he didn't work with his typical lack of total cooperation, you could almost say that about the Finlay/Villano V match I posted in the Wrestling Machines thread. Which is weird. 

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Ok, here's the start of the catch up

1/2/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Mike Miller/Bryan Adams: This went about ten minutes and I actually liked it a lot. Miller continues to look like a consummate pro in these matches and Adams looked worlds better than in the Spivey match. I wouldn't count on him to actually drive a match but he can hit power moves and be a force and get led around. Miller's a guy who never had a major run but had been around in territories for a long time and I do think he had multiple tours and he gets it. Here he's crushed after the spike piledriver mid-match but still tosses shots in and puts up exactly the sort of fight he could at that stage. This just felt very balanced for a Jumbo/Yatsu vs formidable enhancement guys sort of match. I am a big fan of the Yatsu bulldog head(drop). I don't mention that enough. One thing Adams did screw up was the press slam. More on that later.

1/2/89: BATTLE ROYAL. Who watches AJPW Battle Royals? I don't think I've ever seen anyone write about them. Here's your participants:

Brian Adams and Don Muraco and Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith and Genichiro Tenryu and Giant Baba and Goro Tsurumi and John Tenta and Jumbo Tsuruta and Leo Burke and Masanobu Fuchi and Mike Miller and Motoshi Okuma and Rusher Kimura and Samson Fuyuki and Shinichi Nakano and Shunji Takano and Tiger Mask and Toshiaki Kawada and Yoshiaki Yatsu (10:17)

I had literally no idea that Muraco was on this tour. He didn't do a ton here. I'd be fascinated to see 89 Muraco vs Kawada or Yatsu or something. I was watching this on a phone so some details were hard to pick up on. Burke looked better here than in his tag match, but it was just glimpses. Lots of triple pins to justify guys getting taken out by things that wouldn't work in a normal match, which is a clever element. The narrative of the match, so much as there was one was that the Bulldogs were working very well together. They double slammed Tenta. They beat on Baba in the corner. Etc. I have no idea how Tenryu got eliminated but it ended with Footloose, Baba, and the Bulldogs, and all of this was quite good. Baba got a big chant but the numbers defeated him. I care a lot less about Dynamite's failings in a non-match like this. Davey Boy looked like a world beater. Look, he's the only guy who can press slam anyone in 89 AJPW without it looking labored and botched and he does it three times here, including once to the floor. And not just the little guys. I think he got Yatsu too. If he didn't go to WWF, I imagine he would have been a big star in AJPW. 

I did finish that SWS bonus match too. It's really good. By that point they had a lot of spots and sequences worked out and they were all fresh for the Japanese Crowd. Animal was leaner but really dynamic in how he threw himself into all of his offense. There was a good FIP on Hawk including a burst through a table on the outside. Typhoon would never have the sheer presence of Earthquake but by this point he had a cleanness to how he worked that is very effective. I wouldn't call it stiff or snug or even graceful but it was confident and efficient. They knew exactly how much to give and when. Good stuff. 

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13 hours ago, Matt D said:

(...)

1/2/89: BATTLE ROYAL. Who watches AJPW Battle Royals? I don't think I've ever seen anyone write about them.

(...)

Don't you read the reviews on Segunda Caida done by other people? 😉 Eric R reviewed a couple of AJPW Battle Royals this year.

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4 hours ago, Robert s said:

Don't you read the reviews on Segunda Caida done by other people? 😉 Eric R reviewed a couple of AJPW Battle Royals this year.

That sounds vaguely familiar now that you mention it. Look, Phil forgot he reviewed the main event of the CMLL handheld we did this week just a year or two ago. I can’t speak to the memory of any of us currently.

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But of course the answer to my rhetorical question of “who else but me?” would be Eric. That happens far more than you’d think. It’s a pretty big Venn Diagram overlap.

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Ok, rolling on with the catch up. I'm going to go with TV dates here since I'm too lazy to figure out when these were filmed (hey, maybe my other dates are TV dates, I don't know!)

All Japan TV (January 22nd, 1989)

Giant Baba/Rusher Kimura vs Mike Miller/Leo Burke

This was actually illuminating. There are plenty of reasons to watch everything you can. You'll learn things that you might not have otherwise. Now, maybe those things don't matter in the grand scheme, but it's part of the fun at least. I was frustrated with Burke in the other tag (Tenryu/Kawada) but I now want to put the blame on the fact he had been wrestling Baba/Kimura. Here he did exactly what he should have, bumped and stooged and drew a ton of laughs from the crowd. It's just that he didn't shift gears when put into a different situation and maybe, given that he HAD given so much to Baba/Kimura, he shouldn't have because it would have created dissonance. Anyway, as always, Miller looked good here and walked the balance better but the crowd loved Burke's goofing.

All Japan TV (January 29th, 1989)

Isao Takagi/John Tenta vs Brian Adams/Danny Spivey

A lot to like here. I thought Adams looked ok, but he still isn't able to work as big as he ought to. Everything seems labored when he should be able to make it look easy (and not even against Tenta; I'm talking against Takagi here). This was the closest thing to a Takagi showcase we've seen so far as he got to do something at least, and he looked fine. Spivey's jumping lariat was amazing and his DDT was 100% over and that's as much about him as the move, since it's just a DDT in a world of frequent powerbombs. I did like seeing Tenta match up against both of these guys (fresh pairings to me) and the finish was just elaborate enough to be good. 

All Japan TV (February 18th, 1989)

Tiger Mask vs Tommy Sharpe

This was the first match on the special with the 2/2 Kansas City. We just get a few minutes JIP but the selling at play really shows me that he has it already. Sharpe worked over his leg and even in his comeback and after he takes the win with the frogsplash, he's selling all over the place. It made Sharpe seem way more dangerous than he is and made TM seem all the better in coming back and vanquishing him. 

The great thing here, however, was the Kansas City hype package at the start, which had TM hanging out with cows and Jumbo/Yatsu at a steakhouse. 

Spoiler

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Last catch up match and then moving forward. I really have to start making some French gifs again too.

(aired) 3/5/89: Terminator/Johnny Ace vs Tiger Mask/Great Kabuki

Just a couple of minutes of this. I had hoped to see some cool chemistry between TM and Kabuki but it wasn't meant to be. Terminator showed me next to nothing except for some frustrated fire in the post match. Ace on the other hand looked like he belonged there when he was clubbering away while putting on an abdominal stretch. Not much to say though.

3/4/89: Footloose vs Johnny Smith/Jerry Oates - Speaking of guys that looked like they belonged, Johnny Smith did. Oates wasn't half bad either. They even did a nice tandem dropkick/belly to back.  We get the last six minutes of this and it's a bit more southern tag than you'd think with the North Americans cutting off the ring and Fuyuki playing FIP well and Kawada coming in with feet flying. One nice thing about suplexes being brainbusters instead of suplexes is that superplexes feel all the more important. The roll up reversal finish was a little botched but still effective enough.

3/8/89: Mighty Inoue vs Masa Fuchi: Shame we didn't get more of this. I love this junior style. It's not about spots or flying or high velocity but instead about precise, gritty matwork and pin attempts. It's not that it's not hard hitting and it's not that there aren't bombs, but they're all worked for and elevated to. It's all about gamesmanship and mastery instead of athleticism.

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Wasn't expecting to treadmill last night but a window opened up. I was able to go at 4.7 MPH for 20 minutes at 3.5 elevation (before shifting to a fast walk), which is by far the longest I've been able to manage jogging. I'm also down a few pounds, which makes me cautiously optimistic though there are now birthday cupcakes in the house for either the 3 year old (today) or me (next week) depending on how you figure it.

ANYWAY

3/8/89: Ricky Steamboat vs Tiger Mask: Oh hey! It's another crappy Steamboat traveling champ title defense. I feel for Ricky here, I really do, because it's obvious what he was trying to do, but it doesn't work if you don't commit fully. You can't stooge for your opponent early and let him take most of the NWA title headlock exchange, and then stooge for him in the middle of the match and let him dropkick you out of the ring after you skin the cat, and then stooge for him at the end and let him piledrive you on the floor but be completely unable to piledrive him and have it work. Flair stooging throughout the match worked because when he was on offense he was dangerous and effective and in control. You never, ever get the sense Steamboat is in control. His offense consists of one inverted atomic drop cutoff and then a bunch of chops (standing and diving). He has a cool entrance into the ring from the apron by standing on the ropes and jumping in, but never, never, never is there any sense that Tiger Mask is in trouble. He's always one irish whip reversal of getting back in control. If Steamboat wasn't going to outright cheat, what he had to do was focus on the double chicken wing and work a body part to set it up. That would have at least focused his offense and give some form to all of this. As it was, he comes off like a loser, again, and makes the title look meaningless. This had a bit more atmosphere than the other matches but it was another terrible match. Poor Ricky.

I have a Roadies/Tenryu vs Jumbo/Yatsu/Takano match from 3/8 which sounds great but the timing didn't work out, so...

3/25/89: Tenryu/Kawada/Fuyuki vs Kroffat/Furnas/TOM ZENK: Let's get Zenk out of the way first. He gets great elevation on everything. That's all we have to say about Zenk. Revolution let the other side take a lot of this. I thought Furnas actively looked better than Kroffat, and while I like Furnas, Kroffat becomes one of my favorite AJPW guys a year or two later, so that surprised me. Kroffat just wasn't hitting things smoothly and was awkward at times, and most of all, didn't show his Memphis swagger here. Part of what makes Kroffat work so well is that he's over the top as a heel in the way everyone else around him isn't, yet he can still back it up with the work. This is just one match but I didn't see signs of that coming together here. Here's an AJPW tag trope I've seen a few times now. Towards the end of the match one side will have an advantage, maybe even one that upsets hierarchy, but they'll knock the wrestler they'd been working on into his corner inadvertently or uncaringly and the top guy on the other and this massive sense of inevitability falls over the match. You'd think it'd be disappointing because you know how things will end at that point, but it's not. It's reassuring and powerful somehow. It has a symbolic resonance which is much more about "mood" than you usually see in a wrestling match.

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Let's be cautious here because it's still early days and there are freaking birthday cupcakes in the house BUT, I am down somewhere between 7 and 10 so far.

3/8/89: Tenryu/Road Warriors vs Jumbo/Yatsu/Takano: I'm glad this project lets me watch some Animal matches right now, but he didn't do a lot here. I don't know if he was hurt or what. He hit a clean press slam at the start, another after being on the apron for the while, hit a powerslam he didn't go over on, and was there for the finish. The crowd was super into Hawk though. Loved the triple knees on Tenryu, especially the one where they all start from a corner. Tenryu is absolutely the student of Terry Funk, because he's as willing to sell and be vulnerable as anyone. One thing I like about these tags in 89 over the ones a few years later is that the level of escalation feels "right" to me. When you have a six man there are a lot of chances for recovery and interference for kick-outs. I'd be ok with finishing stretches that go a bit longer even, and i think we'll get there. Anyway, this felt like a big deal and was very enjoyable.

Aired 3/26/89: Dustin Rhodes/Joel Deaton vs Nakano/Takano: Hey, Deaton looked really good here, just a pitbull throwing himself into his offense. He even got the crowd to do a call and response on a wooo. You know, Dustin looked fine, too. He was lacking "stuff" a bit and had to do a standing vertical twice, but he knew how to be Dusty Rhodes, Jr. at least. It's a shame he lost the second rope elbow drop soon after this. Nakano hit one amazing dropkick on Deaton. I'm surprised Dustin/Deaton got the win.

 

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3 year old's birthday. I ended up with cupcakes due to my celiac. Here's the cake my wife made. No idea if you'll be able to see it or not. But suffice to say it's a challenge to just have one of these cupcakes a day, let me tell you.

Spoiler

No description available.

 

Edited by Matt D
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Bonus match!

I'm running through Ditch's list primarily focusing on Tenryu/Jumbo interaction and being selective. For instance, no Brody.

I did,however, hit...

Choshu/Hamaguchi vs Tenryu/Okuma: This is Choshu's tv debut. As I fill in my gaps, I'll be spending a lot of time with him, naturally. It's a hierarchical match but everyone looks great. The beginning is awesome as Okuma tries to start the match off and the entire world, fate itself, wants Choshu and Tenryu to be the ones. As the match goes on, Hamaguchi gets to show off all of his ferocity and suddenness and bleed for good measure. His diving elbow drops are the best. Okuma has solid presence and better headbutts. The two of them going toe-to-toe is good stuff. The match really gets over the danger of Choshu, most especially his clothesline and the Scorpion Deathlock (which they build and build to), but everything. Tenryu gets to use the cloverleaf. Choshu and Hamaguchi's tandem stuff (primarily the huuuuuge spike piledriver and the elbowdrop while in the Scorpion) are super memorable. And Tenryu, as he always does, fights on. Great, passionate, meaningful debut. They (the wrestlers, the promotion, the crowd) knew what they had here.

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I can't remember where I read it (might have been Vader's book, although what it would have to do with him I don't know), but apparently Jumbo was quite annoyed that Tenryu got the Choshu feud, when he thought he himself should be the one to defend All Japan. The author was speculating that they gave it to Tenryu because he did the Octopus Hold and the Back Brain Kick and was therefore more similar to Inoki...

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3/25/89: Jumbo/Yatsu (c) vs Hansen/Gordy: Great match. I liked this a ton. Hansen and Gordy ambush to start (and there's so much character with Hansen demanding the ref check Jumbo/Yatsu and then putting his hand on Gordy to prime him for the right moment). That lets them take the first half without much problem. Gordy keeps going for the figure-four prematurely which lets Jumbo/Yatsu fight back but it's not until they're able to damage Hansen's leg after a missed knee-drop that they can really comeback. Great selling from Hansen, of course. Gordy is able to get in after Yatsu goes for the kneeling figure-four a little too early (right move, but not with Gordy right there), but the damage has been done and with Hansen wounded, they're able to hit the spike pile-driver on Gordy on the outside for the countout win. Probably the most "me" match I've seen so far from a storytelling perspective. 

There are other matches between these two but I have to fit my time into 30 mins, so I'll go back to them.

4/4/89: Deaton/Abby vs Dustin/Gordy: This is JIP and I need to go back to make sure we don't have a handheld of this, since I think we do have some matches that night. We come in with Dustin obviously having been pummeled for he's bleeding, but he's able to get the tag and Gordy hits the world's best corner clothesline on Deaton. Dustin comes back in hits his elbows and gets a pop for the flip/flop/fly and that nice second rope elbow, but Abby crushes him a little while later and that's it. Post-match, Abby and Gordy brawl. This was just three minutes with the post-match tacked on to make it six. Not much you can say about that.

Ok, looked for HHs: putting these here for now because I know this isn't in my normal source but I can find them elsewhere:

1989.04.04 - Giant Baba-Rusher Kimura-Mitsuo Momota vs. Isao Takagi-Akira Taue-Shinichi Nakano

 

1989.04.17 - Giant Baba-The Great Kabuki-Rusher Kimura vs. Terry Gordy-Joel Deaton-Pete Roberts

Edited by Matt D
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BONUS MATCH:

2/1/85: Choshu/Yatsu vs Jumbo/Tenryu: I have to draw the line somewhere, so definitely no six mans until 87 or so, if I can avoid it. But I feel like I need to lay more groundwork for what I'm seeing now. Choshu feels almost like a virus infecting AJPW with more kinetic violence. Tenryu's easier to infect than Jumbo, though, who spends the first part of this match just trying to ground Choshu. Later on, he finally gets into it but that just draws him in and Choshu's able to win an exchange. In the middle, Tenryu gets beat on, including some nice tandem stuff including an early spike piledriver from Choshu's side. Great hot tag with a roll through and everything (but that's when Jumbo got caught). Yatsu's kind of a non-factor in this right up to the point he eats the post on the outside. Then he comes back in a bleeding maniac. In as he's bleeding and he's a maniac. He won't listen to reason. You half think Choshu's going to have to clothesline his own partner. He basically wants to kill Jumbo. Jumbo on the other hand just wants to lock up with him and get him away. Meanwhile, as time runs out, Choshu and Tenryu are pummeling each other. It was something. This was generally a lot more interesting when Tenryu was in there than Jumbo but I got the sense he was slowly awakening.

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I went and watched it and that was a weird ending. They were kinda treating Yatsu like he was concussed or something. Even though Joe got pushed around a bit it didn't look like anyone did anything bad enough for him to call the match, either. And then, AFTER that the brawl escalates as it wasn't that violent before. Strange. 

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I'm glad I watched that actually, because it really brought into focus the second match I saw last night.

But first...

3/29/89: Masa Fuchi (c) vs Mitsuo Momota: A lot to unpack here, actually. We have this in full and we're lucky we are because the very best stuff might be the first few minutes. Momota, who the fans are definitely into, starts the mash by rushing across the ring with a cross body and then hitting this inadvertently rolling plancha. He keeps control with a goofy headscissors until Fuchi is able to pry off an arm and bulldog it down to the mat, which he follows with these absolutely mean kicks in the ropes. Eventually Momota comes back with pluck and attitude and they roll into this interminable finishing stretch where both guys are just too worn down to finish each other off. I don't think I can explain this well. The closest example is the selling in a modern CMLL Title match tercera, where they'll hit a move and just lay around, except for it felt more warranted. You got the sense that even though Momota might be able to slowly bring Fuchi over for a belly-to-back or even two, there was no way he was going to be able to actually pin him. There's a moment or two I think Momota might actually pull it off, but of course he doesn't. Anyway, I think it worked this once, because of the selling and the engagement, and Momota being kind of a lovable loser, but I wouldn't want to see a dozen matches in a row with it.

3/29/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Footloose: Hey, do we have this one as a HH in full, maybe? Anyone? It's ten minutes of the Olympics totally mauling Footloose and it's awesome, but I bet what came before we come in was probably great too. It's like the start of an old serial, "As we look in on our intrepid competitors, Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu are pummeling a bloodied Toshiaki Kawada on the floor. Look at how Tsuruta kisses his fist before he crushes Kawada in the skull with it, a gesture that would have been unthinkable and unconscionable five years before."  Yes, Jumbo kisses his fist before punching bloody Kawada in the face. That's how the match starts and it doesn't let up after that. I see no sign of the Jumbo that refused to engage bloodied Yatsu, even in the face of Choshu's invasion, back in 85. There's a moment relatively late where he goes after Fuyuku, who was basically minding his own business and tosses him into the rail. Eventually, they get a hot tag and Fuyuki scores some hits but one of those is that doomed, caught spinkick that immediately leads to him getting compacted. The end of the match is basically Fooloose taking turns eating spinecrushing powerbombs while trying desperately to save each other, but it was a doomed effort, but one the fans loved them for.

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