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Matt Watches 1989 AJPW/1986 NJPW on a Treadmill


Matt D
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20 hours ago, Matt D said:

SPACE LONE WOLF comes out to The Final Countdown, which is pretty awesome.

Two notes.

  1. Mutoh claims that he stopped using it after his second excursion (the first Muta run) because he'd heard it in a strip club.
  2. His mid-90s theme "Triumph" is, to put it charitably, a very clear homage. Basically sounds like The Final Countdown refracted through, like, Symphony of the Night.
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10/3/86: Inoki/Kevin Von Erich vs Kimura/Muto: At this point, I've written up so many matches that it's almost silly I didn't make some sort of blog out of this or burn some days on Segunda Caida with it or something, but I really am doing this just for me and it's such low stakes to do it here. I'm really happy a few of you are following along and I'm certainly learning a ton. But I tell you right now, I'm not going to do this match justice. It was kind of nuts. I guess the Von Erichs made up with people right at the end of their last tour? Maybe, but the teams here were weird. I don't think I've seen Kimura on opposite sides as Inoki since the previous year when they won the tag titles. The animosity should have been between Von Erich and Muto as they got into a shoving match previously, and to start it sort of was. Von Erich, more than almost anyone in history, wrestled like he didn't know wrestling was a work. Sometimes that'd be just a mean cheapshot from behind. Sometimes it'd be running around the ring like a maniac when he was supposed to tag out to Inoki so that HE could run around the ring like a maniac. In some ways, the two of them were almost too attuned to team. When Kimura was first paired with Inoki, the two of them really went at it, Inoki just peppering him like a madman. Meanwhile, Kimura just had this gumption, just full of heart. I think in a lot of ways he suffers from teaming with Fujinami so much; Fujinami was just so good at everything that he overshadows how gutsy and tough Kimura was and just hard he fought. The first Muto vs Inoki pairing was a bit of a standoff. The second, however, was awesome, as Muto seemed unsure and went to tag Kimura, and KIMURA JUST SLAPPED HIM IN THE FACE. It was awesome. Then Inoki slapped him too. A+ stuff. Only after Muto got Inoki in a hold (an inverted surfboard) and was in control would Kimura tag in. And then, after all that, Von Erich locked the claw on Mutoh and because it's Japan, he became a bloody mess. I have no idea how good this match actually was; it really doesn't feel that good, but it was still awesome if that makes sense, and then the post match was even better because Von Erich wanted to fight so bad and Muto wanted to fight and Kimura wanted to stop everyone from fighting but Inoki was so pissed off that he kept swiping at everyone. My favorite part of this was Inoki putting his hands together in a praying motion to Kimura asking him to get out of the way and while he did this, Muto went through his legs to double leg inoki. In general, Muto really threw himself into stuff here but still was lacking some of the polish you'd expect from a guy in with three stars like this. But he was absolutely a breath of fresh air. EDIT: Oh yeah, Muto won with a roll up out of nowhere on KVE. Ok and Muto goes AROUND Kimura's legs, but it's still great.

10/3/86: Konga the Barbarian vs "Dr. Death" Steve Williams: This was both awesome and pretty great. Short ten minute hossfight sprint. It started with Doc looking for a weapon, grabbing a chair and smashing it over Barb's head. Then after a tiny cut, he broke the chair over his head with the cushion bit going flying. So then Barbarian kicked a chair into his face as a reciept. There was a lot of big boots and charges. Barbarian missed a diving headbutt. Doc hit a huge belly to belly. Then he started football charging but went flying out of the ring on a dodge and Barb loaded his arm with the chain and got DQed after a big shot. Anyway, this was awesome. It was absolutely as good as it could have been on paper.

Edited by Matt D
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10 minutes ago, Matt D said:

Sometimes it'd be running around the ring like a maniac when he was supposed to tag out to Inoki so that HE could run around the ring like a maniac

I've only seen this moment from the match, as someone GIF'd it and posted it to Reddit about a year ago. But I love it so much. Kevin doesn't have the cultural understanding to get that Kimura was provoking him to tag Inoki in (thus putting himself above Kevin in the hierarchy), so when he whips him he just bounces off the ropes.

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2 minutes ago, KinchStalker said:

I've only seen this moment from the match, as someone GIF'd it and posted it to Reddit about a year ago. But I love it so much. Kevin doesn't have the cultural understanding to get that Kimura was provoking him to tag Inoki in (thus putting himself above Kevin in the hierarchy), so when he whips him he just bounces off the ropes.

I wish I could snag a gif of the bit at the end where Inoki keeps begging Kimura to get out of the way but I can't get this thing to last long enough on youtube for me to actually make a gif out of it even.

Here's the match if anyone wants to see it though:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AhWGo3fM0OOsMQkygE-f50-GcXwxLNSW/view?usp=sharing

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11/3/86: Koshinaka/Hashimoto vs Takada/Kido: So we went from 0 to Muto really quickly. I feel like we're almost going from 0 to Hashimoto just as quick. He absolutely asserted himself here. Nothing huge, but he worked out of holds by Takada and Kido and was able to just use his combination of size, power, and surprising technique to hold his own and do some real damage. The most interesting stuff might have just been he and Takada scrambling for position. This had some bombs, some of Kido just dragging guys down, some heated kicks, what you'd expect from Koshinaka and Takada at this point really, but Hashimoto just being able to hang (and you know Kido wouldn't just let him if he hadn't earned it) was the story of the match, even if he got swept under in the end.

11/14/86: Fujinami/Muto vs Nagasaki/Pogo: Pogo and Nagasaki (especially Nagasaki) could really eat guys up, huh? This had long heat on Muto and then on Fujinami. Muto took Nagasaki's stuff (and we're not talking anything too weird, gutwrench suplexes and gutbusters) all weird. Fujinami always gave forth the aura of being able to fight back out of anything really. They still leaned on him. The moonsault at this point was  a mid-match pop spot that got broken up in tags (and they're almost always tags). It's fascinating to watch Muto kind of try to figure it out. You can see in real time him working out just how much damage he has to do to his opponent on a comeback before it's ok for him to tag out and not lose face. Fujinami won with the scorpion but then Wakamatsu came in and while they were distracted by him, everyone got clocked with the megaphone.

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Bonus matches: Abby vs Inoki January 82. There was a weekly series leading up to a singles match here.

1/8/82: Inoki/Fujinami/Tiger Mask vs Abby/Dynamite Kid/Babe Face: This was a blast. It was 2/3 falls and was pretty fluid between the pairings of Fujinami and Tiger Mask and Dynamite and Babe Face. Heels spent a lot of the match dragging the faces back into their corner with Fujinami or Tiger Mask scrapping from underneath. All four of them matched up very well. A lot of tags and double teams. They teased Abby vs Inoki a few times but rarely paid it off as it's just the start of the cycle. Occasionally things spilled out and went crazy. Occasionally Dynamite would be a dick. There was a point in the second fall where Abby just kept running through Tiger Mask, which was great until Fujinami came in so they could double dropkick him. He went out and Tiger Mask went up to follow up with a dive but Dynamite just ran in and shoved him off the top denying us all. That sort of thing. Dynamite was excellent at carrying that attitude. First fall ended with a Fujnami Catapult into a Tiger Mask body press (and a suplex that followed). Second ended with Abby tossing someone over the rail. Post-match was great as SD Jones ran out too and they kept slamming the guardrail into Inoki's gut on the outside until WAHOO made the save and chopped everyone.

1/15/82: Inoki/Fujinami/Choshu vs Abby/Bad News/SD Jones: Another 2/3 falls match but the TV show cuts off 18 mins in (incl. entrances but with a bit of a skip early) so we don't see the finish. Again, this was pretty good. Bad News really directs traffic in how he works with SD. A lot of "Hey, put your head out so I can slam someone into it," sometimes with a double headbutt, sometimes with a sort of backbreaker. SD had a great flurry but often got swept under right afterwards. That's how the first fall ended with him having an advantage one moment and eating a belly to back the next. He had a nice little wrestling exchange with "short hair wrestle guy" Choshu. Bad News was always a bit more stylized, with more spots (I'll hip toss you twice, and you reverse the third, etc.). They once again teased Abby vs Inoki but then immediately had Abby tag out as Inoki was pissed. Then, Abby who had been stretching on the ropes, waltzed in and kicked Choshu while he had the Scorpion on. Things broke down early in the second fall with Abby pulling out something from under the ring to open up Choshu and hitting the elbow for the fall immediately thereafter. They kept control in what we saw of the last fall. Cagematch says this was a draw and maybe the ref threw it out soon after this.  Two weeks, two fairly different matches that forwarded the central idea.

1/22/82: Inoki/Fujinami vs Abby/Bad News: Early on, this was all about Bad News feeding for Fujinami and it ends with Rusher Kimura coming out of the stands to attack Inoki, but in the middle it was all about delayed satisfaction for Inoki vs Abby. They face off relatively early but Abby gets a cheapshot in and Bad News gets tagged in soon after. Inoki fights back and eventually gets a back brain kick and suplex on Abby but then Bad News breaks it up and he can't press the advantage. Then finally, he pulls Abby out to the ringpost and they work the groin but that's when Rusher comes in. So they tease the encounter, give Inoki an advantage he can't capitalize on, and then take away the final bit of triumph to make the fans want more for the singles match. All good stuff.

1/28/82: Abby vs Inoki: Inoki has weird cupping things going on with his arm here. Abby controls early with cheapshots (his throat shot or a quick kick). Inoki engages, gets wailed on, disengages, regroups. He tries a drop toehold and gets jammed. He tries a Russian Leg Sweep and Abby just pries him off. He tries headbutts and Abby just smiles at him. Either he gets opened up hardway on those or he blades right around then and it's not a gusher but it adds early drama. Slowly, he chips away at Abby with leg kicks, or getting a drop toe hold, but he can't capitalize and Abby just lays in the headbutts or drops an elbow for a nearfall. Eventually, he gets Abby down with shots an a dropkick to the eye and the crowd explodes. But Abby is the best at the world in cutting someone off. His backdrop at this point is great too. It's almost more like a Torture Rack drop. Finally, he's able to pull a leg out from the apron and work the ankle around the post and that lets him start on the arm with big kicks, an pumphandle over his shoulder, even jumping kicks to it. Abby's selling here is amazing. Inoki's channeling the crowd is all time good. Abby fighting literally from underneath with diving throat shots is iconic. But Inoki stays on him, smashing the skull with the enziguiri over and over. Right when it's obvious he's about to win, Bad News comes in, draws the DQ and everything breaks down, but it was a big and clear moral victory to end this part of the feud.

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11/14/86: Inoki/Fujiwara/Kimura vs Snuka/Wild Samoan/Tonga Kid: HA HA HA Fujiwara is such a wonderful jerk. Ok, that's out of my system, but he really is. Early on, all of the Tongans/Samoans try to headbutt him and it doesn't do anything which is a fun inversion. The story here is that Fujiwara will only tag Inoki in and he looks down upon Kimura. This is also funny because Kimura is a top 5 NJPW guy certainly. It's not like it's Hashimoto or Muto or even a Koshinaka that he's spurning. Kimura spent all year warring against the UWF guys and getting better and better and Fujiwara doesn't give him the time of day. The action throughout is pretty good but Tonga Kid sort of wipes out on a top rope move and ends up doing an accidental flying butt bump or something. It's of little matter. Kimura and Snuka does Snuka's one sequence perfectly time. It all builds to Kimura absolutely losing it on Fujiwara who just fires back at him as the foreigners shrug and beat on Inoki until the ref throws it all out. Post match, Muto runs in and dropkicks people in the face. This is what Fujiawara will ALWAYS bring to a match. It's not always going to boil over like this but you never come out of a match wondering what the character of Fujiwara (and maybe the wrestler too) thought of his opponents. And he marries this with toughness and technique and everything else.

11/14/86: Maeda/Kido vs Murdoch/Masked Superstar: One of my big takes on Murdoch over the years is that he has a tendency to wrestle an entire match straight and then decide to be a goof in the last minute. I remember that happening to a degree in the amazing Karl Kox match from 75 or 76, but it happens a lot. It happened here and Maeda has to deal with him, pantsless, on the outside, which is kind of beautiful in its own way. Not a ton to say here. Just good, solid mat wrestling. Not a lot of kicks from Maeda because they just grinded it out. Murdoch and Superstar were just credible and effective and the UWF guys had to meet them halfway. They worked well as a team. I don't know. It was just good wrestling for wrestling's sake until the tomfoolery at the end.

11/24/86: Sakaguchi vs Maeda: This too started out on the mat and was pretty solid along those lines, but it got heated quick, and then got even more so as Maeda nailed Sakaguchi with the spin wheel kick in the corner and then Sakaguchi pulled him out and put him in the tree of woe when they got back in and just tossed the ref off. Man, Sakaguchi is a tough one. He has size, he has strength, he has presence, he has fire when backed in a corner. He has technique. But somehow, for me, I haven't really seen it come together too much. You get great moments in matches but I'm not sure you get great matches and I don't know why yet. He's absolutely a guy you want in a 5 x 5 elimination or in a trios but I think he just lacks that top tier magic that you can't bottle and you can't train. It's nice to see between this and Fujiwara/Kimura how heated the UWF/NJPW stuff still was 11 months in.

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Sakaguchi has some really good matches from the 70s. That changed my perception of him completely, more so than anything from the 80s. There is a tag match w/Inoki vs. Fujinami and Kimura where he works like the first coming of Akira Taue, though. 

Edited by ohtani's jacket
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My favorite match with him in 86 (other than a 5 on 5) was the singles with Inoki.

11/24/86: Fujinami/Muto vs Koshinaka/Takada: It's hard to do this one justice. It's full of cool stuff but I wouldn't call it entirely coherent. Maybe if I watched it more closely in a different setting I might feel otherwise, but probably not. It has an amazingly cool first 3-4 minutes though, as Koshinaka and Takada, rivals all year long, ambush Fujinami and Muto at the start and hone in on Fujinami. It's just an absolute mauling, bomb after bomb after bomb, tag after tag. The most dangerous back drop driver we've seen all year by Koshinaka. An equally dangerous German. A butterfly suplex. A tombstone. Takada with his own German, with two of his tombstone slams, a bunch of kicks. They destroy him. But they can't put him away, either due to his own resilience, the fact it was all so early in the match, or Muto rushing in, and eventually, he just decides he's done selling and shrugs everything off. But he's too stubborn to tag until he at least gets a shot in of his own so he almost gets dragged back down before getting Muto in. After that, it's kind of all over the place. Muto gets an A for effort on his matwork but around a C+ on everything else. It reminds me of when I was in college and took fencing for a class and was sparring against the coach and instead of small movements, whipped the sword around like in a movie and he looked at me like I was an idiot. That's how I'd describe Muto trying to hang with Takada on the mat. This goes on for a while and the action is all good. Muto hits the moonsault, Koshinaka the butt bump, there's a dragon suplex tease by Fujinami, Scorpions abound. Eventually, it ends in a double countout but the ref restarts it. Muto's second moonsault attempt ends with him getting knocked out and eventually back body dropping someone over the railing and Koshinaka and Takada get the DQ win, which they kind of deserve after that early mauling. Great opening but the match had no idea what to do with it. Probably a little too long if they weren't going to build on that opening.

11/24/86: Inoki/Fujiwara vs Masked Superstar/Murdoch: This was JIP after the intros. Most of this was Fujiwara fighting Murdoch and Superstar on the mat and getting double teamed and it was all sort of great. It's just a totally different sort of matwork than what you'd get from a lot of the UWF vs UWF or UWF vs NJPW stuff. Just grimy and gritty and more off a hoss style, just Murdoch getting an arm around to latch in a headlock or Fujiwara contorting his arm in directions it shouldn't go or Superstar patiently shifting his positioning until he can push or an advantage again. It's far less tricked out and far more meat and potatoes but it still feels credible and almost refreshing. Things opened up once Inoki got in as he dominated for a bit until he got clobbered on the outside. Finish was Murdoch holding up a chair so Superstar could slam Inoki into it but it all getting reversed triumphantly like only Inoki (in Japan that is) could.

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12/3/86: Inoki/Fujiwara vs Takada/Koshinaka: Given how fun the last Takada/Koshinaka match was, I bet this was great. Unfortunately, we only have 25 seconds of it, the finish. Fujiwara beats the crap out of Koshinaka very nicely in those 25 seconds and chucks him over the rail. A lot of times that looks like an accident or happenstance. Not this time. He meant it. Shiro deserved it. This is a tag league by the way.

12/10/86: Fujinami vs Kimura: The guys without a cool team name collide! Kinch told me that this was due to Fujinami refusing to give Kimura a match during the Spinks show which was a big Inoki anniversary. Instead, Kimura got a singles match against LANCE VON ERICH. The poor bastard. I'd be salty too. Except.... the match starts with a handshake and then Fujinami rushing Kimura from behind with a bunch of leg kicks. What a jerk! He holds an early advantage working the arm and going in and out of a short arm scissors. Eventually, Kimura goes low off the ropes and gets a bunch of gut jabs in but you can't really outpunch Fujinami. Kimura tries to out kick him and gets a dragon screw. So on and so forth until Kimura hits the Inazuma Leg Lariat out of nowhere, but he never knows how to finish a guy. He hit a pile driver right after and instead of going for the pin went for another. That put Fujinami in the ropes. Everything finally led to Fujinami almost getting the win off a backslide, Kimura almost getting one of his own, and then Fujinami locking in a clutch sunset flip out of the corner for the win. Kimura looked so gloomy as he raised Fujinami's hand in victory. That early ambush is the only serious jerk thing I think I've seen Fujinami do all year and he does it to his best bud. I'll say this though: the second he did it, the fans started chanting for Kimura. Pro wrestling, everyone.

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12/10/86: Pogo/Nagasaki vs Muto/Takano: I've tried to express previously just how different Muto was, even if he wasn't fully developed yet. He had this flowing way of moving and hitting his stuff and bumping that was unlike anything in NJPW in 86. The UWF guys didn't move like that. Inoki/Sakaguchi/Kimura/Fujinami/Hoshino didn't move like that. Juniors like Cobra/Takano and Koshinaka didn't. Even a big bumping foreigner like Rocco didn't. In a year that was all about grinding matwork and big kicks, Muto was something entirely different. I don't think he was as credible but he was explosive and his stuff was more beautiful to watch. If he wasn't taken seriously by the rest of the roster, he'd look like a joke. As he was, the fans were on board. This was a lot of Pogo/Nagasaki control and eating guys up. Again, I don't want it every night or every week but in a promotion that doesn't have a lot of "heel control", it's nice to see now and again. They had a crazy spike pile driver. Fun NJPW thing from this period. Outside the ring you can use foreign objects but if you bring them into the ring and use them, that's a DQ. This was ok. Takano didn't stand out. Muto had a real problem putting people away with the moonsault in tag matches.

I've skipped a 26 minute Koshinaka vs Yamazaki match for now. I'll go back to it.

12/11/86: Inoki/Fujiwara vs Maeda/Kido: This was awesome. It didn't make the 80s set? Odd. A lot of Maeda beating the crap out of Inoki. A lot of Fujiwara working the mat tight with Kido and Maeda. The crowd was super buzzy whenever Maeda and Inoki were in there together as it was fairly rare for 86. At one point, he tore apart Inoki's leg and he had to hop back to the corner to tag Fujiwara. The Fujiwara/Kido sections were so grindy. My favorite bit was Fujiwara rushing in with some nasty shots in the corner and Kido just blocking a punch and tossing him off like he was Jumbo or Samoa Joe. Some great shots in the corner from Kido too. This might have been his best match in 86 that we have on tape. Finish had Inoki having to really work to get stuff in but he finally got the Octopus with Fujiwara blocking Maeda. He was super excited to win as you can imagine.

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I'm getting dangerously close to the end of the year here. I am going to take a quick look at January 87 just to make sure that I really, really want to jump off NJPW for a while. I'm not sure what sort of match would make me linger another month. There's a world where I go right up until Choshu comes back in June 87 but I don't think so. I'll look after I write these up.

12/10/86: Koshinaka (c) vs Yamazaki: This was long. No, it was ok. Koshinaka does think about how his matches start. We saw that with the escalating slaps with Takada, for instance. Here he hits two butt bumps (is there a respectable Japanese name for that?) but gets caught on the third for a German. That's the start. Then there's a slap, a caught kick, etc. Koshinaka is also a guy who learned as the year went on and the same things wouldn't work on him moving forward. Hierarchy said that Yamazaki spent the whole match fighting from underneath as Koshinaka locked in submissions (mostly on the leg but headscissors too) that weren't really sold in the grand scheme of things. He'd get a moment where he had breathing space or could get a shot in but Shiro would drag him back down. He did fight pretty valiantly. At a little before the twenty minute mark, he started to make some inroads and the last few minutes were pretty exciting. This could have lost five minutes though.

BONUS MATCHES: 11/25/86: Fuji Yamada vs Rocky Moran and 12/27/86:  Fuji Yamada vs John Wilkie: I'm in a weird place where I'm really just at the start of the careers of Liger, Muta, and Hash. As I move forward, so long as I don't blow my leg out, I can really watch them develop. I have to decide just how much I want to do that. It was little harm to see what Yamada was up to in England though. The first match was fairly short and entirely a showcase. Moran took his stuff well, stooged for him well, missed a dive, caught him well on one. Yamada was billed as the second coming of Sammy Lee, did a lot of frankensteiners (more than he did in Japan), wowed the announcer more with his forward roll or his handspring or whatever than with the moonsault. Moran match was similar but in rounds and Moran took more of it with cheating chokes that the ref couldn't see. Except for he could so he chalked up two public warnings very quickly before Yamada took over. He was using a straight pile driver instead of the tombstone for some reason. Another moonsault ended it. Fans were into his stuff overall.

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12/11/86: Maeda/Kido vs Masked Superstar/Murdoch: I'm a huge Bill Eadie fan, but what works as Demolition Ax in a certain environment may not work quite the same as Masked Superstar in another. He was credible. Everything he did made sense. Given his size and skill, you'd buy him standing up out of Kido's Fujiwara armbar given some effort and time. When he did an arm trap slam, it looked painful. What I can really say here, however, is that he was a means to the end that was Dick Murdoch. Murdoch was electric in all of these matches and Superstar simply wasn't. That's ok. He was credible in getting his knee up on Maeda's corner spin wheel kick or dodging a second so that Murdoch could come in and do his thing. This had some heat on Kido but again, the hot tag was wasted. Just a kick out and a roll to the corner and the fans went up for Maeda anyway because they always did but it could have been so much more. It always could have been so much more. Murdoch and Eadie obviously knew that so it's not like they weren't doing exactly what they were supposed to, but it's still a waste. It's a waste of wrestling energy. Still, this was good and it was as good a way to end the year as any.

So, now we've come to the end of the year. To my knowledge, I've watched every NJPW match from 1986 that we have that's made tape, whether it was full or just a clip or even a handheld. I've watched a good chunk of matches leading up to it and a solid span of bonus matches, primarily from the 80s but with some other historical ones to give me a broader sense of some of the key players. For anyone daunted, I took seven months to do it. I watched a few matches every other night while doing other things. I had some big gaps due to injury or vacation or other things. I learned a lot. I can speak intelligently on just about anyone I've come across, at least for this year. I gave myself the foundation I need to get into the musketeers and Liger more thoroughly when the time comes. I can reach back to older Inoki in an informed way. I suggest this. Find a blindspot and dig in. You don't have to watch the whole year, but it might be fun to follow one wrestler for a while. For me, an added value is that NJPW is so difficult to find and watch right now. They've made their history almost impossible to view and that makes it almost feel like I'm reading forbidden tomes or things that anyone coming up now (and I'm not, obviously, as I'm a kid of the turn of the century DVDVR, but one that never really dabbled until 2010 or so) can't even watch in gif form.

Let me sum up a few things over the next couple of days.

Inoki: Inoki's as good a place to start as any. Watching Inoki helped me rethink how I look at an "ace." I'm not sure I ever gave it too much thought. Hogan's an Ace. Misawa's an Ace. Hijo del Santo's probably an Ace. Cena. Reigns. Flair. Bruno. Douglas or Taz? Sting? 94 Bret?  I always joked that Christian was the best WWE one (And ECW one!) but what I learned from watching Inoki is that you ought to expect an ace to excel at maximizing moments. It took me by surprise a bit because the implicit storytelling inherent in AJPW matches don't often allow for it. In a lot of ways, NJPW matches follow a similar bent, guys pressing up against each other with what passes as accepted reality as opposed to overt, explicit storytelling with build and payoff and obviously (but again accepted and normative) storytelling. The difference with Inoki is that he's excellent at dropping in a single pivotal moment of that blatant artifice in the midst of the implicit narrative. It's the use of red in an otherwise black and white movie, a lone firework to cap off an orchestra's performance. In fact, the biggest problem with the hour long Brody match was that he wasn't able to insert that well enough in so long a match when the setting and opponent should have been the ultimate opponent for him to do it with. In the Spinks match, on the other hand, it was absolutely there (even if Spinks didn't go up for the suplex in the end like he was supposed to). Where he excelled was against the Murdochs and Andres of the world, or even guys like Sakaguchi. Against random foreigners and monsters like the Maxxes. Against Maeda or Kido, he stumbled because he tried to keep up with them as a point of pride and he simply couldn't. He did far better when he leaned into his strengths and his strengths were only 2/3rds legit, but made all the stronger by that 1/3rd of beloved bullshit. Against a Fujiwara, it worked because Fujiwara was good enough to transcend being a shooter. I'm glad for the time I spent with him. I see right through him, but I'm still glad for the looking.

Fujinami and Kimura: They started the year tied together. They ended the year tied together in a different way. There was a difference in hierarchy but it was more minor than major. Fujinami was the excellence of execution. By this point, he felt established as a star, as the #2 guy, as a threat, as someone for people to throw themselves against to prove themselves. I didn't love his clothesline. It wasn't a killer lariat in 1986, but it represented a KO blow and he treated it as such. When he faced Maeda, he had to wrestle a perfect match to stay in it, but there was no one I'd rather count on in a kayfabe level and an execution level to wrestle a perfect match than Fujinami. There were moments where he just bristled up and stopped selling and decided it was time to fight back. It wasn't a hulk up in any meaningful sense. It wasn't Jumbo getting pissed off. It was just him jutting his chin and finding something within himself and it was totally believable. I loved the way he bounced off the ropes or how he'd come into the ring after a tag. But I still feel like I need to see more before passing judgement. Kimura developed through the year, but I don't think it was a development that was needed against the Inokis and Sakaguchis of the world. It was against the UWF guys, where he went from getting overwhelmed, to finding the fire to fight back, to actually being able to go with them on the mat. By the end of the year, I'd put more of a wager on him than Inoki to hang with someone like Takada or Kido. The fans believed in him, maybe not that he'd put someone away, but that he'd make it damn hard for them to put him away without a fight and that he'd very likely fight them to a stalemate. I'm excited for what's to come with him in 87.

More over the next few days on UWF guys, maybe some juniors, foreigners, etc. Thanks for following along for those who are reading.

Edited by Matt D
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UWF Quintet:

  • Maeda: He was the total package in 86. Size, skill, striking, star power. The fans popped whenever he'd enter the ring a tag match. They went absolutely nuts whenever he was suddenly paired with Inoki. He really beat the crap out of guys with the kicks, the throws. The Spin Wheel Kick was probably the move of the year, either that or Kimura's Inazuma leg lariat. He especially crushed guys in the corner. It's funny as it's sort of a "pro wrestling" type move for him to do, an extra rotation, extra flare, but that was the thing. He had flare and showmanship. He didn't always take the path of least resistance to get where he was going. The Andre match was an issue but it was compelling. It was also an outlier. Yes, he struggled sometimes with a guy like Kerry Von Erich who wasn't sure what he was doing, but he worked with people like Snuka and a Murdoch who had his butt out to the crowd to have the best match possible.
  • Fujiwara: The best of the UWF guys. Probably the best wrestler I saw in 86 NJPW. He's transcendent, playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers. People are painting within the lines and he's just doing these realistic reactions that completely defy the style without breaking the matches. I'd say that it's problematic in the same way that 2010s Brock is problematic in that he was apparently playing by a different set of rules, but it wasn't him breaking narrative structures like Brock was. It was him being more of a character and more human and reacting more and not just being a stoic or impassioned machine that could be 2-3 different things. He was like a human in a world of robots. Some of the robots were programmed really well but none of them were human like he was. And unlike Brock, he managed that by enhancing everything around him and drawing out passion from those around him instead of making everything around him seem worse. He was Prometheus stealing fire from the gods.
  • Kido: Endlessly competent. Technically sound. He'd jam anyone that tried anything with him. You had to work hard at it but if you did, he'd let you take over. If he was in a match, you knew it'd be good. But I'm also going to write half the words on him than anyone else, basically.
  • Takada: I was surprised that Takada was so low down the hierarchy but he was treated as a junior. He was most interesting when in there in the 5x5s or in tags against people above him like Fujinami. He'd scrap and kick and had a throw or two and made things hard on people. When he was stuck in the legacy juniors style it got kind of painful at times. It's almost impossible to have a compelling match in that style though you can have a hundred disconnected compelling moments. That he was able to have one or two long matches with Koshinaka that WERE good is really a testament to them.
  • Yamazaki: He fell off the map fairly early due to footage but the couple of times we had him against someone for a long period of time he was scrappy and worked hard and fought from underneath well. I know he stays a player into the next few years.

The Junior Style in general/Koshinaka in specific: I hated the Rocco/Cobra infused stuff at the beginning of the year. So much noise. So little resonance. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Rocco was the worst for it but it was a relief when Cobra left the division too. We got one or two really mat-based matches more in the AJPW juniors style that were neat. We needed more Kosugi. Koshinaka is a guy who was fiery and game who was super punchable, who the crowd would get behind, and who was almost entirely dependent on his opponent. In those Cobra matches, he was terrible. In tags against better UWF guys, he was good. As the year went on, he had sort of a baptism of fire, but I tended to more dread him than look forward to him when I saw him on a card. Yamada was clearly the guy already in 86. It was like how when I looked at 89 AJPW, Takano was a better Taue than Taue. Yamada was already a better junior than most of the guys in the division, able to combine all of the elements and have matches with more substance and weight to them. I'm excited to see his development.

Other NJPW guys: Sakaguchi in some ways felt like Inoki's fake Baba buddy, but that really isn't fair to him and his stature and role. He was great fighting out of a corner when pressed and really was a combo of size and technique, but unless he was pressed, he wasn't always the most compelling even if he was always credible. If you beat him in a match or an exchange, it mattered. Ueda turned early in the year and was interesting hanging with the UWF guys as he had skill, but could always turn it up to that crazy notch when he needed to. Pogo and Nagasaki were fine. Nagasaki eats up guys you wouldn't expect him to but you almost don't mind because you watch this stuff and you're sometimes hungry for a strong heel who can wrestle like one. They control/cut off the ring well. Nagasaki has some pretty strong bombs for the era. Pogo is really game and creates some of the motion that Nagasaki doesn't. I wouldn't want to watch them every night but it's nice to see them against a number of different pairings. For Wakamatsu guys, I'd sure as hell rather see them than Madd Maxx and Super Maxx. Muto was a breath of fresh air but his work wasn't together yet and sometimes lacked focus. He moved differently than everyone else and seemed to be moving in a divergent path than the gritty UWF influx. George Takano, after taking off the mask, was really just there. He was less irritating when he wasn't a junior but he didn't do much to stand out as a heavyweight given who he had to try to make an impact next to. We didn't seen enough Hoshino, but I loved his attitude in what we did see of him. He always felt like he belonged and like he had a chip on his shoulder.

Foreigners: More of a mixed bag than AJPW maybe. Andre was obviously a highlight. I loved him on the apron with Wakamatsu's whip just going nuts on people. Tons of presence even if no single match stood out. A very fun guy in tags. Brody came in for two matches and was Brody though I didn't want to stab my eyes out during the hour long match at least. The jerk bumps and doesn't sell and doesn't sell while in holds but then sells when he's out of them. The worst. Kevin Von Erich was the jock Texan played to the full logical conclusion, a bastard heel who thought he was in a real fight instead of wrestling. It played well in this setting. Kerry couldn't adapt nearly as well. It's a crime we had so many minutes of Brody and so few of Duggan. This was (past the Team Canada stuff) the latest bit of heel work in his career, these Japan tours, right? And he had that wonderful crazy energy that Brody wished he had. We just didn't get enough of it. Masked Superstar was competent but not compelling. Murdoch was competent and compelling and by far felt like the best foreigner in 1986. Klaus Wallas looked awesome in a battle royal and we should track down more of his stuff. I think Regal talked him up a bit on his podcast. The less said about the Maxxes the better. We didn't get enough Cuban Assassin to register and barely enough Chris Adams though his personality came through. The Jackal was competent enough but I never need to see him again. Konga the Barbarian had the cool offense but didn't understand how to work big enough yet and took too much. Snuka could do one thing but he did it well at least. The Maeda match is fascinating but I was never looking forward to seeing him. Samu was far more game. And there's no point in mentioning some of the other guys who just had a match or two. Past Murdoch, the real MVP of the foreigners/heels was Wakamatsu, who was Jimmy Hart in Memphis, down to the megaphone, having to cycle these often goofball foreigners into threats with continuity and heat. At least he got his big tag match with Andre, Ueda, and Inoki.

Edited by Matt D
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1990 SWS is next.

People should read @KinchStalker's work on it over at PWO: https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/forum/1542-super-world-sports/  It was a big help to me. As best as I can tell, a money mark got involved because his kid loved wrestling (and thus AEW was born! No, wait). Why am I doing this?

1. I do really want to follow Tenryu basically... for the rest of his career. I don't see why not. I have every reason to think he's one of the top five wrestlers ever and I'm in a pretty unique position that I have this incredible foundation with him.

2. There are only around 20 1990 matches on tape. Why not do this before I go back to AJPW? The problem is that I'll be picking up wtih some guys chronologically after my last AJPW match with them, but it's not a huge deal or anything.

So let's go. This event was called: SWS Echizen Fighting Party Beginning Charity Preview Event

9/29/90: Genichiro Tenryu/Takashi Ishikawa vs Yoshiaki Yatsu/Isao Takagi: 32 years ago tomorrow. Ishikawa came out of retirement for this. At first glance, SWS pulls away part of the last vestiges of civility that AJPW still clung on to and just leaned into the revolutionary violence. What I learned in AJPW, both about wrestlers and the styles, helps though! This starts with Yatsu demolishing Tenyru with a row of chairs on the outside and opening him up. They take him back into the ring and beat on him. Takagi and Yatsu were both injured earlier in the year. Takagi doesn't have quite the same aura and size I remember? Yatsu on the other hand feels a bit more wild somehow, like he'd stopped pretending to hang out with Jumbo. Tenryu's able to fire back against Takagi, even power bombing him (which feels very early in the match) but Yatsu cuts him off. Eventually, Takagi headabutts him right into Ishikawa and the tag but this is a style of momentum and a hot tag has to be hotter than this. The numbers game take out Ishikawa (and Yatsu hits him with this cool fisherman's gutwrench thing), but in time Tenryu recovers and they're able to take over on Takagi. Ishikawa splits his face open with a knee drop off the top and hits a calf branding and some gnarly kicks too. He also has a cool fall forward lariat. Not a ton of rust on him. The announcer is super energetic and works English phrases that barely relate in sometimes, like about the temperature. If you told me he was the money mark's kid, I'd believe you. Yatsu eventually has enough and tackles them out to the floor and smashes more people with chairs but Tenryu and Ishikawa hold the advantage back in the ring and Tenryu casually kicks Takagi in the face in the corner until he can barely make the count and then some more until he can't. That finish was somehow both anticlimactic and 100% awesome Tenryu. A whole new world.

9/29/90: Naoki Sano vs George Takano: This was the finals of a one night tournament. Sano beat Kitahara and then Fuyuki. Takano beat Tsurumi and Shunji Takano, so they were obviously positioning George over Shunji here, which is interesting. George had come along since 86. He felt more confident in himself here. Sano was off the series with Liger. They have that one great bloody match? You know the one I mean, right. I'm not super familiar with him past that. Given the guys on the roster, this seems like a slightly dubious final, but it's what they were going with and the guys worked really hard. They were throwing bombs but then they were selling huge, so it was all balanced and warranted and meaningful. We get about ten minutes of this so no feeling out process or early matwork but the nearfalls were good. Takano had a size advantage but Sano was skilled and quicker, and really both advantages were slight. Takano went over and he'll be programmed with Tenryu next.

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10/18/90: Tenryu/Kabuki vs Jeff Jarrett/Bob Orton, Jr.: This was the first round of a one night tag tournament. I'm not convinced they had any idea who the Americans were as they were billed as Jeff Jallett and Bob Outon Jr. There were a lot of in your face production values in general. Maybe the coolest thing in the match was Jarrett eating a chop from Tenryu in the corner captured by the corner ringpost cam. Lots of shots at ring level too. This was absolutely a southern tag with the heat on Kabuki. Jarrett didn't entirely embarrass himself or anything but it was Orton who felt like he belonged, hitting hard, but in his own way, and getting some real heat as he goaded the crowd from the apron. They cut off the ring and it was as shine/heat/comeback as almost any match I can think of during this era. It probably went ten, twelve minutes which made that easier though. Orton did his awesome "heft the guy up on his head, press him up, backbreaker" spot. Can't forget that. Finish was Jarrett vs Tenryu and Jarrett tried to scrap, he really did, but it was probably a bad idea.

10/18/90: George Takano/Shunji Takano vs Takagi/Yatsu: Other first round match. Yatsu and Takagi looked less wild, better groomed. Coolest thing here was Yatsu catching a kick and holding onto the leg as he hit the enziguiri. Shunji was the one who looked more wild, almost having a Terry Gordy sort of thing going Takagi seemed recovered from his injury and had a good mix of size and speed considering. This was back and forth but Takagi and Yatsu had been in more tags earlier in the year before the injury while the Takanos, despite being brothers, had been in different companies, and despite hitting a double dropkick at one point, I got the sense that they weren't too used to working with each other actually. They ran back the spot where Takagi got completely stomped to death in the corner but he beat the count this time, only to fall a minute or two later.

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10/18/90: Tenryu/Kabuki vs Team Takano: I'm missing Thunder Storm already. This was the finals of the one night tournament and Kabuki has washed off the paint which was weirdly jarring. Shunji looks and moves like Terry Gordy and it's a damn shame that there isn't another AJPW match with them from 90 that I just hadn't gotten to yet. I need to watch more obviously, but in the tags I've seen with this promotion so far, there's just much more of a sense of a southern tag. Maybe it's because the tags are slightly shorter, I don't know, but there's been less back and forth momentum shifts and more of a beating on one person or one side. Here, it was first on George, who got beaten down early and just really crushed. Tenryu must have known about how cool his stuff in the corner looked with the camera because he really milked the corner clothesline. Shunji would intervene and give him hope (including with a huge corner clothesline and missile dropkick; they loved calling his stuff BAZOOOOOKA!) but they were doing a good job of cutting him off and keeping him in or near the corner. George Takano is a fresh person for Tenryu to beat up so that's enjoyable. Eventually Shunji did make it in but he mainly ate a shinbreaker from Kabuki and a bunch of kneebars and a figure four. But, as is the style, that gave George time to recover and he came in with an actual hot tag. There was even some actual danger on Tenryu for a bit where Kabuki had to save him, but he's Tenryu so he came back. Ultimately, they got Kabuki on the floor but by then Tenryu was doing the lift up chops and the Kawada (stolen from Tenryu who did them first! but does anyone speak about that?) kicks on George when Shunji came out of nowhere with a shot that allowed George to get the huge upset with the German. The fans went nuts as you can imagine. I need to see more but I'm feeling some stylistic differences from first half 90 AJPW so far. But this was good!

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Posted (edited)

10/19/90: Tenryu vs George Takano: I'm going to say this is 10/19 instead of 10/11 because that just makes sense. Takano had a very clear sense of what he was in there with and the opportunity he had, after sneaking out a victory over Tenryu in the tag. He more than snuck that, actually. And here, he came in with a gameplan. Quick jabs, or ridgehands or pokey punches. I'm not quite sure what to call them. Tenryu couldn't get a shot in early though. Takano stuck with his speed and ducked away. It took about two and a half minutes for Tenryu to pin him into the corner but once he did the chops came. Then, as Takano had the audacity to push him back towards the corner with charging sumo strikes (unless you're a guy like Takagi you don't do that to Tenryu), Tenryu just caught him in the gut; more on that later. Even after Tenryu got a few shots in, however, he had spend the next two or three minutes a half step behind, wrestling very conservatively so he didn't walk into something Takano had planned for him. That made him unable to press an advantage. The thing about wrestling that way, however, is that you can capitalize on a mistake, and he did as Takano faceplanted on the outside after missing a dive. This middle section was kind of awesome as Tenryu really worked over the gut, including just stepping on Takano and walking over him, which is something I don't think I've seen Tenryu do chronologically earlier than this. Also more of those mean gut punches, and eventually even a tope. Takano did come back, including just a real sky high dive off the top to the outside, but Tenryu crunched him through countering a German attempt and then caught him with the nigh-deadly front brain kick. That hurt Tenryu's foot and left him unable to capitalize, which really added some drama towards the end. On some level, it was a little bit inevitable at this point, but the question was more of how Tenryu was going to score the win. He couldn't get the pin after a countering powerbomb for instance. Takano was too battered to really capitalize either at that point and all things equal, which they were, Tenryu had more in the tank. Good, clever, desperate performance by Takano here. Not everything was perfectly smooth but everything felt weighty. He knew what he was facing, rose to the challenge, and looked valiant in defeat.

Minor interlude here: The production values are still pretty funny. The corner camera is awesome (more on that later). But they keep cutting to either a concerned looking announcer woman who never says anything or a VERY SERIOUS AND STOIC looking guy with glasses who's like Japanese Craig Johnson or something. And sometimes they cut to this guy with a mustache. In my head, the announcer who keeps going into out of place English is the money mark's kid, the stoic guy is that guy's pissed off older brother who doesn't really want to be there and is embarrassed by this whole thing, and the guy with the mustache is the actual money mark, with the woman being.. I don't know a forced retired Lioness Asuka or something. I'm not tagging Kinch to tell me who everyone is.

10/19/89: Jarrett vs Sano: Last few minutes here. Jeff works the leg. Finish is a bunch of body blocks and top rope splashes and reversals and counters. Finish is awesome due to the corner cam. Sano leaps up and backflips and Jarrett dodges around and gets a crucifix pin but he doesn't quite get the arm right so you see him really fighting to take Sano down with the corner camera. Not a lot of time on this though.

10/19/89: Kabuki/Ishikawa vs Nagasaki/Tsurumi: Last few minutes, here, but unlike Jarrett/Sano this was 16 mins in when we came in. I, like everyone else in the world watching this, wanted to see Kabuki and Nagasaki go at it. They teased it a couple of times towards the end and when it does sort of happen, Nagasaki just crumbles to Kabuki's uppercut, but they tease it post-match too so that wasn't REALLY it. Ishikawa came out of retirement but he didn't quite get in shape so he has a cool gut that only makes his falling clothesline look cooler. Now that I know how much 86 Nagasaki ate guys up, I want a proper match!

Interlude 2: This undercard had Nakano vs SNAKE WILLIAMS.

10/19/89: Yatsu/Takagi vs Orton/Jerry Morrow: I'm not used to 1990 Jerry Morrow's look as I didn't really recognize him. This was a bonus match for me and I have to make sure certain databases get updated. It was at the end of the Kabuki tag. We get about 4-5 mins of each. The cool part here is just the visual of Orton wrestling Takagi and just moving him around the ring. Orton had a lot of value still in 90 in the right setting. Yatsu hit all of his stuff on Morrow which was fun too.

Here's the Takano vs Tenryu match, btw:

Spoiler

 

 

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

In my head, the announcer who keeps going into out of place English is the money mark's kid, the stoic guy is that guy's pissed off older brother who doesn't really want to be there and is embarrassed by this whole thing, and the guy with the mustache is the actual money mark, with the woman being..

  Hide contents

 

 

Lead announcer is Shigeo Sugiura. This was broadcast on TV Tokyo, so Sugiura was brought on as he had been the lead announcer when they carried the IWE (back when they were Tokyo 12 Channel). Mustache guy is Great Kojika! The woman is Cutie Suzuki! Far left is Koji Kitao.

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Amusingly, if I had made it one more match in, they would have announced the panel! They do so at the start of the next match/clip.

10/19/90: Fuyuki/Kitahara vs SST (Samoan Savage-Tama/Samu): Just the last minute or so here. Kitahara rolls out of the way of a top rope splash and hot tags Fuyuki who was already gaining girth. He had cool twist out of his dropkicks I don't remember though. Maybe just a camera angle thing catching it better or the extra weight of a few months? He made the mistake of trying to headbutt a Samoan and had to tag back to Kitahara who got a lucky roll up for the win.

I'm burning through these, which was the idea, but I'm tempted to make it to the first big WWF show in 91. We'll see. 11/22/90 had another one night tag tournament.

11/22/90: Kabuki/Ishikawa vs Sano/S. Takano: Kabuki had his usual music to do the nunchucks with. This was fairly back and forth and mat-based. Sano had the speed, Takano the size, but Kabuki and Ishikawa probably had a skill advantage. Lots of holds, built to break-ups by the partner or to bigger spots. Takano helped Sano flip off the top with a senton. Sano set up a huge Takano knee drop off the top with a slam. Finish was Kabuki getting up just a bit too slow on a double shoulder block onto Sano and eating a few kicks and the Romera Special for a submission. I like the team of Sano/Takano. Very Power and Glory/Can-Am Express. They didn't run it often moving forward unfortunately, but someday I'll see them wrestle Paul Diamond and the Warlord!

11/22/90: Tenryu/Koji Kitao vs Nagasaki/Tsurumi: Kitao had been wearing glasses on the panel and there is a slight Clark Kent/Superman effect as he works without them. He seemed like such a liability. He got fired from NJPW for being racist to Choshu! I get there had to be some buzz bringing him in with his sumo background and how NJPW had built up to his debut earlier in the year, but he couldn't have been worth it. I'd say he dragged things down a bit here, just with some placement or timing issues and the bad sort of uncompetitiveness. I'm not reading into that he was trying to be difficult so much as he wasn't always sure how to gel with his opponents, but given what happens later, it's maybe not best to give him the benefit of the doubt. Obviously the appeal here is watching Tenryu scrap with new opponents. Nagasaki is a guy who would eat someone up and the beginning where he and Tenryu are going at it is a blast. Likewise Tenryu vs Tsurumi which isn't AS fun but is still, you know, fun. Kitao had a ton of size and one really great overhead northern lights style throw. Decent kicks, I guess, just due to the size. Once he tagged Tenryu which is why Nagasaki and Tsurumi stayed in it so long. I think Tenryu hit the first DDT I've ever seen him hit chronologically here, so he's obviously seeing SWS as sort of a canvas to try new things. Nice moment in the finish where Tenryu had to escape a slam from Nagasaki to back brain kick him so that he could do the same to Tsurumi and save Kitao from a leglock, setting up Kitao's .... standing vertical suplex finish. I have some misgivings about the big guy moving forward.

 

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11/22/90: Tenryu/Kitao vs Sano/S.Takano: GOT TO MAKE KOJI KITAO LOOK STRONG. This was a little painful, I have to admit. Kitao got swarmed at the start and then lumbered down on Takano with elbows and Takano went flailing. The whole match wasn't like that but the start was. Kitao lacked the instincts that came from experience. He'd go to low kicks when he should have done almost anything else. He was clumsy at times. The struggle when he tried to go for a belly to back and people didn't want to go over was just a bit embarrassing. He had size. He had one good move with the northern lights throw. His body was... I'm not sure his type. At this point Takano really does remind me of Gordy but Kitao is more like a thinner King Kong Bundy. He just had that roundness to his shoulders? Lots of gasping for air as things get going. He was not the basket to put so many eggs into. What made this even worse is that Tenryu felt the need to play little dog in the match and sort of restrain himself. It's one thing when you're teaming with Hansen and doing that. This is something else altogether. At one point he did the sumo strikes out of the corner which I don't think I'd seen him do since 87, or at least not often so he was still enjoying the freedom allowed here, I guess. Takano was good at setting up high impact moves for Sano. Tenryu went up to the ropes just a bit too much. I swear they're calling the toss off the top ropes a "Victory Driver" or something, which is a little much. Anyway, Tenryu and Kitao win the cup here by a couple of power bombs.

Edit: look at this BS. Poor Takano:

https://j.gifs.com/ywxVL7.gif

I'll go back to George Takano vs Yatsu which is only 8 mins JIP but sounds fun. I really wanted to see...

12/7/90: Tenryu vs Dibiase: Dibiase came out to his theme with the Million Dollar Belt. This is one of the best post-Mid South Dibiase matches. It's just an ok Tenryu one. Tenryu gave Dibiase a wake up call early with a chop to the chest and Dibiase saw red and unloaded one of his own. I was proud of old Ted there. A lot of slams by Dibiase to stay in it. At one point, he really got the message, beat down Tenryu in the corner, and drew back daring him to come get him. The second he did, Dibiase took a powder and walked around the right. Perfect heeling and such a rare sight to see in Japan. Later on, Tenryu got annoyed and started doing the head-holding Kawada kicks, so Dibiase returned the favor and did them too. It was a little headlocky without purpose in the middle and some of Dibiase's beatdown wasn't all that compelling, but I did like how he made sure to work the crowd. It was really Tenryu vs an American heel, but one who was willing to scrap a bit and was pretty credible all around. The beatdown ended when Dibiase missed the backwards elbow drop off the ropes, which is Tenryu's move (and something Dibiase never actually hit as a heel) so obviously scouted. Good finish as it looked like they were working towards the desperate draw (this is another one night tournament) but Tenryu was able to steal one right at the end.

Edited by Matt D
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