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I've been watching CZW's Best Of The Best '15 out of morbid curiosity. A quick rundown of what I've watched so far...


  First match is Caleb Konley vs. Aaron William vs. Tommy End. I've seen Konley, heard good things about End, and know nothing about Williams. Upon seeing him, I dig the hell out of End's look. He looks like a guy I could talk about At The Gates with. End does a lot of strikes,and seems to be a pretty big dude by indy standards. Not sure if he's right for the tournament but he's good. Konley goes out first which is baffling. Williams' offense is horrible. He tries to do some kick sequence that has no speed or force behind it at all. It doesn't look good, especially wiith End doing Chris Hero level striking. End wins, which the crowd enjoys.


  Second match is Tracy Williams v. Jon Gresham vs. Trevor Lee. I love Trevor. He's part of the reason I braved this tournament. Tracy Williams is another dude I've never even heard of. He seems to be like a more vanilla Drew Gulak. I've seen Gresham a few times before, He's now apparently an octopus. It's an odd gimmick but whatever...I enjoyed this match a good bit more, but we hit a pretty big pothole in my future enjoyment of this show when Trevor is eliminated and Gresham advances. What the absolute fuck? Crowd doesn't agree with Lee being out either.


Before we get to Joey Janela vs. CJ Parker vs. Joe Gacy, David Starr comes out and gets super cheap heat with a promo on Tim Donst who is seconding Gacy. It just goes on forever and never goes anywhere, Donst lays him out and it barely gets a pop. I've heard Gacy has gotten good...And it appears I've heard wrong. He tries to wrestle like a cruiser but he's not athletic or fast enough for it to look good. He also does one of the stupidest moves I've ever seen, a Tajiri style handspring into a Stunner. Starr costs Gacy the match, and aside from Gacy trying CJP and Janela don't do anything at all memorable. Parker wins, moving along.


  We have our last first round match, Buxx Belmar vs. Mike Bailey vs. Andrew Everett. I'm a fan of Everett, and I like Bailey from what I saw of him in a music video setting. First off, Everett and Bailey both come out to Beastie Boys songs which bugs me for some reason. Belmar is fucking gross, which is his gimmick but he's just super unappealing to watch. He licks the bottom of Everett's boot and puts Bailey's bare foot in his mouth. You would have to be goddamn amazing to get me to overlook that stuff, and he isn't. Seeing a full match from Bailey, he reminds me of Red. Since this isn't 2001 that isn't a compliment. Everett eliminates Belmar and is immediately taken out by Mike Bailey. Our four guys going to the second round are Tommy End, Jon Gresham, CJ Parker, and Mike Bailey. I'm not hyped. The only combination of those guys that seems watchable is Gresham vs. End, so hopefully that happens. CZW is never afraid to remind me why I only try to check their shows out every 2 years or so.

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8/15/92 - Toyota vs. Yamada (AJW) *****


I’m watching this about 2 weeks after the Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch match from NXT Takeover: Unstoppable.  That is probably my favorite women’s match ever, but this one has a reputation that makes me believe it could overtake it in my rankings.  Thus, I’m going to compare and contrast them.  There are some things in this match that are clearly better than Banks vs. Lynch.  Yamada throws some really nasty kicks, Toyota’s moonsaults and dives are great, and both of these women throw a hell of a suplex.  None of those things are half as compelling as Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch’s selling in their NXT Women’s Title match.  This is a very good match, and they do a lot of high quality work, but without the selling it doesn’t really mean much.  Yamada spends at least 5 minutes kicking Toyota’s legs and putting her in multiple submissions that affect her lower body only for Toyota to fight back and start hitting missile dropkicks and moonsaults like nothing ever happened.  She literally started sprinting as soon as she took over on offense.  The art of wrestling has nothing to do with how many flips you can do, how many suplexes you can throw, or how spectacular your finisher is, the art of wrestling is selling.  If the workers aren’t selling, how can we as the audience buy that anything they are doing matters.  If I was to judge this match on just offensive moves, this would blow the Banks/Lynch match out of the water, but as much as I love suplexes and dives if I had to choose which one was better I’d choose Banks/Lynch 100 times out of 100.  Toyota and Yamada did a lot of cool moves, but I never felt invested in the match.  Even the after match angle where Toyota tried to stop the officials from shaving Yamada’s head came off as false, because the match didn’t seem to be that hard fought.  As an audience we were supposed to believe that Toyota respected Yamada so much after the match that she didn’t want Yamada to have to go through with the hair vs. hair stipulation.  It would have worked much better if she would have actually sold Yamada’s offense.  Think about all of the best post match angles you can think of, Flair/Savage from WrestleMania 8, Canadian Stampede, and WrestleMania 13 when Steve Austin refused assistance to the locker room, they all are so affective because Randy Savage and Steve Austin sold their injuries.  After Sasha Banks retained her title she subtly asked the ref to raise her other arm, because she couldn’t lift the arm Becky Lynch spent so much time working on.  Once again the Banks/Lynch match is more affecting.  Sasha Banks told the ref to raise the other arm the way that you would tell your friend his zippers down, but the moment rang out to the viewer like she yelled it into a bullhorn.  The only reason she did it was to put over the arm work of her opponent.  That is how you show respect for your opponent, by making sure everyone in the audience knows that you only got through the match by the skin of your teeth.  This is not a ***** match, this is probably around ****, and that is probably a little generous.  It may very well be a problem I have with the joshi style, but this may be the most disappointing match I’ve watched since I’ve started this project.  There are matches where I disagreed with the rating, but this is the first I just don’t understand the rating at all.


8/20/92 - Misawa/Kawada/Kikuchi vs. Tsuruta/Taue/Ogawa (AJPW) ****1/2


Sadly this feud is coming to an end, and despite Jumbo Tsuruta’s career as the ace of All Japan all but over, he’s still very good here.  With that said it is very apparent that it is Misawa and Kawada’s turn to be on top as the crowd reacts to them louder than anyone else.  Misawa is the chosen one, but Kawada is at least as popular if not more popular than Misawa with this crowd.  It is almost like Austin and The Rock in the early 2000s, Austin was the top guy, but there were definitely places where The Rock was more over.  Once again this match is excellent, and Jumbo spends half of his time in the match trying to kill Kikuchi.  He even puts him in a Liontamer, which may be the very first time that move was ever used.  Another thing that happens in this match is that the Kawada/Taue feud seems to be coming to a head.  There was a spot in the match were Kawada was thinking whether or not he was going to throw this match out the window just to kick Taue’s ass.  After the match ends, after Jumbo backdrops Kikuchi in a way that would violate every concussion protocol, Kawada has to be held back by the referee.  This is right around ****1/2, which for these dudes isn’t their best, but still so damn good.  One day when I have the time, or the motivation, I’d like to go back and watch every six man from 90-92 and rank them.  There are two I think that are clearly better than the rest, but all the others are right around the ****1/2.


8/22/92 - Tsuruta/Taue vs. Williams/Gordy (AJPW) ****1/4


Somehow some way this is the first match I’ve seen between these two teams.  These two teams have a match in 1990 that is also on the list, but I couldn’t find it on the internet, so this is likely the only time I’ll be writing about these two teams wrestling each other.  It’s sad, because they really complement each other really well.  They are kind of mirror images of each other as no nonsense, straight ahead, ass kickers.  These are the two teams voted “Most Likely to Kick Some Ass,” in the 1992 All Japan yearbook, and they spend the better part of a half hour kicking the ever living shit out of each other.  One thing I really like in this match is that when it’s time to run in to break up a pin or submission, both teams come in with the full intention to hurt their opponent enough that their partner has a chance to gain the advantage.  So many time you see someone come in and kick their opponent just hard enough to break the hold or stop the referee’s count.  It’s affective don’t get me wrong, but it leaves their partner in a position to receive more punishment.  Not these dudes, they come in and put a beating on their opponent so their partner can make a comeback.  Once again, it is the small things in a wrestling match that take it from average to good, and good to great.  These teams wrestle this match like they know that the difference between winning and losing is razor thin, and they can’t leave anything to chance.  These know that their opponents are legit threats and they treat them as such.  They take advantage of every opportunity to inflict pain on their opponent, because they know that eventually all of those extra blows will help them in the long run. This match turns to the gaijin’s favor when Dr. Death comes in to breakup Jumbo’s sleeper hold and he not only breaks up the submission, but goes after Tsuruta’s knee while doing it.  Two-thirds of the way through this match they sow the seed of the Japanese team’s downfall in order to reap the rewards later.  The finishing sequence of this match is Jumbo having Gordy on the ropes, but is unable to finish him because he’s hobbled.  It is apparent that Jumbo is in control of the situation, except instead of hitting his usual running lariats, he has to resort to short-arm versions.  If he only had his full strength, he would have probably put Gordy away when Taue has Williams occupied on the outside of the ring, but he doesn’t giving Williams the opportunity to come in and kick his leg (from under his leg?) allowing Gordy to hit his powerbomb.  This was a really fucking good match, I’d probably bump this up to ****1/2. 


8/29/92 - Bret vs. Bulldog (WWF) ****1/4


So today at work me and a couple of coworkers were discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and how we all liked Secret of the Ooze better than the original movie.  We were all between the ages of 8 and 12 when Secret of the Ooze came out, and agreed that it was everything we wanted from a Ninja Turtles movie.  We don’t care if it is the worst movie of all time, to our preteen brains it was perfect.  I say that to say this, this match happened when I was 11-years old, and I LOVE this match more than it probably deserves.  I’m not going to apologize for it.  This is not Bret Hart’s best match, but this is probably the consummate Bret Hart match.  Bret’s biggest strength of a wrestler is that he is a perfectionist when it comes to making everything look and feel authentic.  This match is him being the perfectionist in front of a crowd that is dying to buy into this match.  Davey Boy Smith is a more than game opponent, but this is the Bret Hart show from beginning to end.  Bret is on his way to becoming the top babyface in the company at this point, but in Bulldog’s home town he is playing the dastardly heel.  If this matched happened anywhere else in the world Bret Hart would be playing the scrappy underdog, but Bret’s understands that is not his correct role for this match.  Bret Hart knew that the only person who would have been cheered against the British Bulldog on this night was a reincarnated Winston Churchill.  The first half of this match Bret looks like an unbeatable champion.  He is just grinding Davey Boy Smith into dust by keeping him grounded and wearing him down with submissions.  All of Davey’s hope spots organically come from him countering something that Bret has done before, like when Bulldog counters Bret’s flurry of European uppercuts with a back slide.  Though he is dominating you can see the frustration growing with every move that won’t put him away.  Bret locks on a sleeper and won’t let go when the Bulldog got to the ropes.  Bret goes back to the sleeper once too often leading to Bulldog’s comeback and Bret sells everything like death.  He takes all of Davey Boy Smith’s biggest shots, including the running powerslam, but still kicks out a two.  After a double clothesline spot, Bret locks in the Sharpshooter, but Davey gets to the ropes.  So these two dudes at different points look unstoppable, defeated, and now that they’ve emptied their clips Bulldog counters a sunset flip and pins Bret Hart clean in the middle of the ring.  There are a couple of problems with this match, like Bulldog being blown up for most of it, but I still give this *****.  It is the exact match that was appropriate for that crowd, between these guys, on that day. 


8/29/92 - Savage vs. Warrior (WWF) ****


This is a match I know I’ve seen multiple times, but damn how did I forget it was this good.  Bret vs. Bulldog is the match everyone remembers, but this isn’t far behind.  Unless I’m missing something, Dave Meltzer ranked two Ultimate Warrior matches over **** and Randy Savage was his opponent to both of them.  The WrestleMania VII match that we all remember was more of a great angle than a great match, but this very well could have been a great match if it wasn’t for the angle.  The best part is that it acknowledges the previous match, but is completely different.  The WrestleMania VII match is basically Savage doing every dastardly deed he can to keep Warrior down, but the Warrior just keeps coming back.  This is a battle of attrition where both guys are so evenly matched that by the end of the match both men are barely able to stand up.  This is probably Warriors best performance, but ultimately it is ultimately all for not, we don’t get a satisfying conclusion.  This was on its way to being something special, before Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect come to ringside and drag everything down with an angle that consists of them attacking both Savage and Warrior.  It wasn’t a bad angle, but it really fucked up the pacing of this match.  This is an easy ****, but it could have been so much more if they would have let the angle wait until after the match.  I understand they were trying to keep both guys strong, but the match these two were building could have been the win Savage needed to take his title run to the next level if only he could have gotten a pin.  Still really good, and really fun, and could have been even more if the WWF could have just stayed out of their own way.


9/9/92 - Taue vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****


For a guy who wasn’t considered the ace of the company, Kawada is fucking over with the fans.  The crowd reacts to him like very few people I’ve ever seen.  He’s getting Austin level crowd reactions here, and has been getting nuclear reactions for at least a year.  Taue takes over early and piledrives Kawada on a table.  There are two women in the front row who are consoling each other, and I can’t tell for sure, but I think they’re crying for Kawada.  There hasn’t been an American wrestler as over with the crowd in at least a decade.  This match, like all of their matches, is hard hitting and hate filled, but this feels more like a wrestling match and less like a fight than some of the others.  While this isn’t as balls to the wall exciting as some of their previous matches, Taue bringing the match down with headlocks and chokes from time to time builds a lot of sympathy with the crowd.  Kawada is really starting to hit his stride with his selling here as well.  He is my vote for best ever at selling the accumulation of punishment throughout a match.  There are plenty of people who can sell an injury, or some limb work, but Kawada sells attrition like no one else.  He takes two off Taue’s chokeslams, he kicks out of one and is too close to the ropes on the other, and counters a third.  After his counter Kawada falls down like a man who just hit E on the gas tank and if Taue was somehow able to stand, Kawada wouldn’t be able to defend himself.  From there the match goes into a frantic finishing stretch which leads to Kawada countering another chokeslam and hooking on the stretch plum for the submission win.  This is a really good match and totally different than their previous matches.  I think I liked this a little more than Meltzer and I’m going to bump this up to ****1/4.


10/21/92 - Misawa vs. Kawada (AJPW) ****1/2


I started high school in 1995 right when the internet started to become something that was readily available to everyone.  I was also about as hardcore of a wrestling fan as I could be.  I was aware of the existence of Japanese wrestling, but other than The Great Muta and Jushin Lyger, I hadn’t actually seen any.  So as a huge wrestling fan who was obsessed with wrestling, I quickly discovered the internet wrestling community, and was immediately fascinated by the discussion of puroresu.  I would read about all the great wrestling going on in Japan, and how guys like Eddy Guerrero and Chris Benoit had great matches in Japan before coming to the states.  So a few years later I got a job and with my first paycheck ever I went to Highspots.com and ordered the Super J Cup 1994 and 1995(with a money order, because I didn't have a checking account let alone a credit card).  With my next check I ordered the Best of Japan 1998 and The History of Misawa vs. Kawada.  I had read about Misawa and Kawada and their crazy suplexes and I had to see it for myself.  Of the four tapes I ordered, my least favorite was the Misawa vs. Kawada tape, I just couldn’t get into it for some reason.  The Super J Cups were the easiest, because I was so familiar with most of the competitors.  I had watched Benoit, Malenko, Lyger, and Guerrero in WCW, and even The Great Sasuke was in WWF for a match or two.  The Best of Japan 1998 was fun, because it was basically every type of match from every promotion all on one tape.  There were NJPW Jr. matches, a couple worked shoots, a Mr. Pogo deathmatch, a couple AJPW Heavyweight matches and a cool Hayabusa vs. Masato Tanaka match from FMW.  The Misawa vs. Kawada tape didn’t hit me right away, I thought the matches were good, but I couldn’t really understand what made them so special.  So time went by and I learned more and more about Japanese wrestling, and eventually I revisited the Misawa vs. Kawada series. 


By that time I had spent probably a year watching wrestling with a more critical eye, and Misawa vs. Kawada spoke to me like the burning bush spoke to Moses.  Before these were just cool matches with hard strikes and cool suplexes, now they were so much more.  Misawa was Superman, he was all about truth, justice, and the All Japan way.  He was the invincible king of the promotion, but unlike Superman he had no kryptonite.  Kawada was Batman, he was a superhero in his own right, but he didn’t have any superpowers.  He was just a man, but he was crafty and tough as nails.  Kawada was as good as a man could be, but Misawa was more than a man.  The two of them started as friends, in order to rid the world of the previous King, and lead All Japan into a new direction.  The issue starts here where after Jumbo Tsuruta was deposed, Misawa was named King.  Misawa was the King in the sense that he wasn’t elected to rule, but he was ordained by God himself to rule over All Japan and lead them to the promised land.  Kawada was a freedom fighter who shed just as much blood, dripped just as much sweat, and cried just as many tears as Misawa.  He didn’t sign up to be ruled by Misawa, he wanted to rule himself.  There were going to be people who didn’t believe in the way Kawada ruled, but he didn’t care.  He was going to take the crown or he was going to die trying.


This is the beginning of that story.  The two men who rid the Kingdom of All Japan of the oppressive rule of Jumbo Tsuruta have a match to see who will assume the throne.  Kawada’s takes Misawa to the absolute limit, but at the end of the day Misawa proves that he is King.  Kawada is a bad assed mother fucker, who is more than a match for anyone on the planet.  He’s fought tooth and nail to make it to the top, but his fight is not finished.  He still has to take the throne, he still wants to wear that crown, but in order to be King he has to defeat Misawa.  Misawa isn’t going to just give up the crown, he fought just as hard to make it to the top as Kawada.  This is Kawada’s first shot at the crown, and Misawa put him down decisively.  To quote Omar Little, “If you come at the King, you best not miss.” 


This is a fantastic match, this is an easy ****1/2 and I wouldn’t be mad if someone gave this the full *****. I know I didn't really talk about this match, but like the Jumbo vs. Misawa feud there are going to be a lot of these matches.  I could just recap them all, but that will get tiresome for me.  There are a couple of matches in this feud that will get the full breakdown, but this being such a huge part of my introduction to puroresu, I thought it was appropriate to explain why this particular feud means so much to me.  This is the beginning of what may very well be the best wrestling feud of all time, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it. 

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I went crazy on watching World of Sport on YouTube and basically, Jim Breaks is now one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time. I've always liked him when I've seen him, but I think I ended up watching like twenty Breaks matches in a row at one point and he just totally clicked for me.


I loved him wrestling a young, skinny Davey Boy Smith in particular. The young lion getting worn down by the more experienced, wily, cruel vet is a great narrative to work within, and both guys are really awesome here



Any WoS fans here have suggestions for me for other stuff I should see from Breaks OR just things I might not have seen from WoS that I should see? .

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The Road Warriors match is from the first Battle of the Belts, promoted by Joe Koff, current ROH CEO.  

I just watched an NWA show from 4/23/1994 in Woodbury, NJ. Could you explain the incident between Jerry Lawler and the fan who jumped into the ring? What did Lawler say, I can't make it out.

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The Road Warriors match is from the first Battle of the Belts, promoted by Joe Koff, current ROH CEO.  


I love that match.  Lots of stiffness, brawling, and no-selling, but that's what these guys were known for.


That said....... I'm really disappointed the match they announced never took place.  It was supposed to be Brody and Hansen vs. the Roadies and that would have been a dream match for me.  The show was held during Hurricane Elaine and Brody wasn't able to get to the show due to the weather.

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Bill Watts/Stagger Lee vs. Midnight Express(The Last Stampede 4/6/84)


Holy shit, was this great.  The promos leading up this match are intense and the match itself is a perfect example of why the Midnight Express AND Jim Cornette are bona fide legends.  Talking about making your boss look like a million bucks, them dudes pinballed all over the ring for Watts to the point where he really did seem like the fearsome, old gunslinger coming out of retirement.  Stagger Lee(JYD) was...well, he was himself, but he definitely didn't drag the proceedings down at all.  Oh, and that crowd was off the chain! This is definitely worth checking out if you love 80's Mid-South.

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10/7/92 - Tsuruta/Taue vs. Williams/Gordy (AJPW) ****1/2


I believe this is the last Jumbo Tsuruta match that Dave Meltzer ranted over ****, which means that this match is possibly the last Jumbo Tsuruta match I’ll be watching for this list.  I’ve thought about ways to expand this list to cover a wider range of matches, but as of now I don’t have anything concrete.  So as of right now I’m bound to Dave’s list, despite the fact that it seems to have some pretty glaring holes.  Even with the glaring holes in the list and my viewing only a very small sample size of his matches, I think I can say with full confidence that Jumbo Tsuruta is one of the five best wrestlers to ever lace up the boots.  It’s funny because I’ve really only seen his feud with Misawa and a couple of matches with Tenryu, but he more often than not comes off as the best wrestler in all of his matches.  Everything he does seems to have a purpose, which may be the best trait a wrestler can have.  He knows when to play to the crowd, he knows when to turn on the mean, he knows how to wrestle on top so he looks unbeatable and he knows when to sell for his opponents to build sympathy.  He really is everything you want in a wrestler, and he’d probably have had another five to ten years as a main eventer if his health wouldn’t have failed him.  This match is another great performance as the Miracle Violence Connection are essentially kaiju from across the ocean coming to destroy Jumbo and Taue.  Jumbo probably gets the least ring time in this match, but everything he does means something.  Taue plays face in peril for most of this match and Jumbo is essentially a walking hope spot.  Williams and Gordy double team and cut Taue off from his corner.  Whenever Taue gets away from Williams and Gordy Jumbo comes in hits a couple of big moves and brings Taue back in.  The Americans cut Taue off and the process starts all over again.  As the match goes on Jumbo’s hope spots become more frequent, until eventually Taue can hit his chokeslam on Gordy for the win.  It is basic southern tag formula, and as always it works the best when both teams have clearly defined roles.  The heels have to be dastardly, they have to be able to cut off one of their opponents and use double teams to keep him down.  The faces have to be able to convey sympathy without looking weak and have to be able to show fire when they make their comebacks.  There is not a better person in the history of wrestling than Jumbo Tsuruta to show fire.  He comes in hits his flying knee and throws up his fist and everyone in the building is behind him.  He hits his dropkick and a top rope cross body in this match too.  If this is the last Jumbo match I ever watch, I’m satisfied, as this was basically the perfect farewell match.  He hits all of his big moves but lets Taue get the pin.  This was really good, and well deserving of its ****1/2 rating.


11/25/92 - Bret vs. Michaels (WWF) ****1/2


This match is something that should have been right up my alley as an 11-year-old, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched this match.  In 1992 these two guys were getting their first taste of the main event scene and I was a pretty big fan of both guys.  This match, and this event for that matter, is 1992 WWF in a nutshell.  Hogan is on hiatus, so the show is much more focused on good wrestling than on storylines and gimmicks.  The problem on being a company that hasn’t focused on wrestling, is that they haven’t really made the transition between the style of the 80s and the style of the 90s.  This match, and these two guys, are kind of the bridge that is going to take the WWF into the future.  The first half of this match is full of chain wrestling that could have taken place in 1983 just as easy as 1992.  The biggest flaw of this match is that the chain wrestling doesn’t go anywhere, it just kind of evolves into a faster paced, 90 style match.  This match is really good, but this could have been special if they would have taken what they did in the first half and weaved it through the rest of the match.  Bret Hart posted his shoulder early in the match, and Michaels went after it for about 15 seconds and never goes after it again.   That is not saying that this match isn’t good.  The second half of this match is all action and Bret and Shawn show justify their positions in the main event.  Hulk Hogan has essentially been the main event wrestler for the decade before this, and his matches are essentially all the same.  He comes out hot, gets beat up for a while, hulks up, drops a leg and wins.  This match has all types of twists and it is the transitions that make it really good.  There are a couple of spots that they go back to a couple of times as transitions that really make this match feel different.  There is a rope running spot early in the match that ends with a Bret cross body.  Later in the match Bret tries it again and eats a massive hot shot on the top rope.  Near the end Bret goes for a cross body when Shawn is tied up in the ropes and Shawn bails and Bret flies into the ropes.  Bret goes for his reverse roll up three different times.  Shawn holds onto the ropes the first time, and he bails and sends Bret flying out of the ring on the second.  Bret notices Shawn arguing with the ref and then he gets it on the third try.  That is a spot that is so often just a throwaway transition, but here it means something.  It is just a really smartly worked match, except they forget the work they put in during the first half of the match.   I liked this match, but I don’t think it lived up to its ****1/2 rating.  I’ll give it ****.


11/27/92 - Misawa/Kawada vs. Baba/Kobashi (AJPW) ****3/4


This is my very first Giant Baba match.  Baba, who is the strangest built person I’ve ever seen without a shirt, wrestles like the old man at the basketball court.  He isn’t going to try to run and jump with these young guys, but he has enough experience to exploit these youngsters with his fundamentals.  He moves slow as molasses, but he actually mixes it up with Misawa and Kawada.  During the introductions I assumed he was going to just come in do a couple of spots and let Kobashi do the heavy lifting, but he participates in this match.  He takes a couple of decent bumps and everything.  I imagine given his size and build that his body couldn’t have been in the best shape, but he’s doing everything you could expect for a nearly 55 year old man.  He takes a backdrop early in the match, hits a piledriver on Kawada and a DDT on Misawa, and is a more than capable tag partner for Kobashi.  This is a really fun match.  I don’t know if I would have ever watched this if I wasn’t doing this project, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it.  This isn’t an all-time classic that I’ll go back and watch for the next 20 years.  This is the type of match you turn on when you’re eating dinner and just want to watch something fun.  I’m not going to give this ****3/4 like Meltzer did, but I will give this **** with the caveat that you’ll have more fun watching this match than some ranked much higher.  This is like watching a celebrity basketball game and discovering that the Secretary of Education can ball.  Could he make it in the league?  Probably not, but it’s incredibly fun to watch.


11/27/92 - Taue/Akiyama vs. Williams/Gordy (AJPW) ****


This is joined in progress with Dr. Death trying to rip Taue’s arm off.  I really appreciate how Gordy and Williams are used in Japan.  They are rough and brawlers, but they also are very good technical wrestlers.  It adds to the story telling.  These two guys could very well try to play it straight and try to win with their wrestling expertise, but what fun is that?  They aren’t just trying to win, they’re trying to beat your ass.  They are kind of like when Ric Flair would defend his title against a midcarder, and pin him with his feet on the ropes.  He didn’t cheat because he had to, he cheated because he wanted to.  This is also the first appearance of Akiyama on the list, and he’s full of youthful babyface fire.  He does a seemingly endless amount of crossbodys and generally wrestles like a rookie in 1992 should wrestle.  That also means that Williams and Gordy beat his ass, and he takes the pin.  This is clipped down to the last 9 minutes, but it’s fun and a good introduction to Akiyama.  I feel like this is a little too clipped to rate properly, but I’d say for what I watched this is probably around ***1/2 or so.


12/11/92 - Liger/Kanemoto vs. Orihara/Ultimo (NJPW) ****


Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon and Jushin Thunder Liger are three guys we’ll be seeing a lot of throughout the 90s, and this is a pretty good representation of what all three of these guys are about.  This is the earliest Koji Kanemoto match I’ve ever watched, and he’s surly as shit already.  I don’t think I’ve seen any of his Tiger Mask III stuff, but I always associated that gimmick as being purely babyface, but the Koji that I know likes to kick the shit out of people and act like an asshole.  He’s a huge asshole in this match, and Liger isn’t much better.  Sometimes when watching Japanese wrestling the language barrier makes it a little difficult to understand the heel/face dynamic, Kanemoto never really has that issue.  He wrestles like a guy who takes up mixed martial arts and decides that the best way to practice is to kick unsuspecting stranger’s asses in the street.  Liger, who I believe has been a face in every previous match on this list, is one of the meanest heels you’ll ever see.  He seems to enjoy every little bit of pain he can inflict on his opponent.  He hits Orihara with one of the most vicious vertical suplexes from the apron to the floor I’ve ever seen, and then comes back into the ring and does the Hulk Hogan (smdh) hand to the ear taunt.  The crowd hates him, and he deserves 100% of their disdain.  Orihara takes 75% of the punishment in this match letting Ultimo come in with his lucharesu style, mile a minute offense off of the hot tags.  This match is kind of like a prelude to what is coming in the next few years in NJPW, Michinoku Pro, and the WCW Cruiserweight Division.  These guys work a style that is fun, flashy, fast paced, but not devoid of storytelling.  It is one of my favorite styles of wrestling, especially when the characters are as well defined as they are here.  This is an easy **** and another match that I really liked, but wouldn’t have ever watched if not doing this project.  Matches like this are the best part of doing this project, I loved finding this hidden gem.


12/28/92 - Windham/Pillman vs. Steamboat/Douglas (WCW) ****1/4


I like three of these dudes a lot, and Douglas is more than serviceable as a tag worker.  Let’s see how this goes.  Once again the southern tag formula gives us an outstanding match.  OK so leading up to this match apparently Barry Windham attacked Steamboat and Douglas with a chair, so the faces are pissed.  The face shine sequence of this match has Steamboat and especially Douglas using tactics they usually wouldn’t use to gain the advantage.  There is a sequence where Steamboat body slams Windham on the floor, and Douglas takes him to the ramp and body slams him again.  They have all the momentum until Windham distracts Douglas when he’s on the top rope allowing Pillman to hit him with a dropkick that knocks him all the way to the floor.  Pillman and Windham then beat the living shit out of Douglas.  Windham is a really good heel, he’s just a big, strong, mean looking motherfucker, who looks like he enjoys beating people up.  Pillman is a little more smarmy, and is figuring out to be that weasely heel that he’d become in the Hollywood Blondes.  Douglas sells really well too, he takes a right hand from Windham and sprawls halfway out of the ring over the bottom rope.  Douglas makes a comeback, tags in Steamboat, who is one of the best fiery babyfaces of all time.  He is putting a spark to his kindling, but before his fire catches completely, Windham kills him dead with a powerslam.  Ricky Steamboat is the ultimate sympathetic babyface.  He isn’t just getting his ass kicked the whole time, he never stops fighting back and the crowd buys all the way in.  If there is a flaw in this match it is that Steamboat’s comeback doesn’t feel earned.  Steamboat takes a couple of punches, and starts pointing at Windham.  Windham keeps beating on him and he keeps pointing, but eventually he blocks a punch and fires back with chops and punches of his own.  Are we supposed to believe that Windham got tired of beating on him and his punches started to have less effect?  I don’t know, but it leads to Steamboat making a tag, all four men brawling and Douglas hitting his belly-to-belly suplex for the win.  This is really good, and a testament to what can happen when four guys who know how to work the tag formula put it all together.  ****1/4 sounds just about right.


12/28/92 - Vader vs. Sting (WCW) ****1/2


Somethings just go together.  Peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs and mustard, Shakira and me, and Vader vs. Sting.  OK, before I go any further I have to address something, Jesse Ventura is wearing a Malcom X hat and Vader comes to the ring in a wave cap.  What the hell was going on in WCW in 1992?  Was Rachel Dolezal the wardrobe consultant?  Vader is one of the best wrestlers ever when it comes to looking invincible.  He starts this match by beating Sting within an inch of his life, he hits two military press hotshots, but makes the mistake of letting Sting get to the outside to catch his breath.  He sends Sting off the ropes, and Sting uses his speed and agility to hit a couple of kicks to Vader’s head before hitting Vader with a release German suplex.  Vader gets a lot of credit as a worker, but not nearly enough for some of the bumps he takes.  That is a huge dude to be taking release German suplexes on the back of his neck.  Sting hits a pescado, before getting back in the ring and hitting a DDT and a super DDT.  Vader bails to the outside and Sting follows him and tries to hit a Stinger Slash on the guard rail.  Vader moves, and the ass whooping resumes.  Vader’s punches, and clotheslines look like he’s legit trying to knock his opponent out.  He hits Sting with some of the hardest strikes you’ll ever see in a wrestling match.  Sting’s selling of Vader’s offense is phenomenal.  Sting is holding his hands up like a boxer who has taken a big shot and is just hoping he can hold out until the round ends before the referee stops the fight.  He’s not really defending Vader’s punches, he’s just trying to withstand them.  Vader being a 450 lb. behemoth, tires himself out and Sting is able to see an opening.  Sting fires back with rights and lefts before hitting a Samoan drop.  Sting heads to the top rope and hits a splash, but Harley Race distracts him so Vader can take over again.  Vader in that instance decides that he wants to kill sting and goes to the top rope and splashes him.  Sting kicks out at two and Vader goes up again, but this time Sting gets up and is able to use Vader’s momentum to turn it into a powerslam for the win.  This is a great match between two guys who are willing to take a beating in order to put their opponent over.  Sting took about 750 punches straight to the face, and Vader took suplexes and multiple moves from the top rope.  If you haven’t watched this match, go to the WWE Network and watch it now.  This is everything you could ask for in the classic fiery babyface vs. unbeatable monster trope.  I think I’d push this up to *****, I couldn’t ask for more in this match.


So I’m done with all of the matches that Meltzer ranked for 1992, but before I move on to 1993 I’m going to review a handful of other matches from 1992.  If anyone has any suggestions from 1992 let me know and I’ll try to get to them.

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Liger and Kanemoto were heeling it up because it was the initial stages of the WAR/NJ feud and NJ guys acted like their shit didn't stink. It's weird that they were booed heavily at what looked to be a New Japan show though. The feud started in the fall of '92 and has some of the best New Japan matches from that decade (from what I've seen - I'm missing a lot of the late '90s footage). 


One of my favourites is a super stiff, sloppy but incredibly heated Orihara/Saito match from October '92. I've brought it up a bunch in the Japan folder over the years, but it really is incredible how the atmosphere inside Korakuen and the interpromotional feud turn what would've been a pretty piss poor match into one of those hidden gems you would probably dig. It's on one of Ditch's sites. Saito was part of Heisei Ishingun, so he wasn't even New Japan proper but it doesn't matter, as HI hated Tenryu and WAR even more than Choshu and New Japan did. This was before the influx of ridiculous number of heel stables in New Japan which happened in the mid-to-late '90s and kind killed the heat off. Eventually even Tenryu joined the stable.


I'd also recommend the Mutoh/Tenryu IWGP matches from 1999 but they don't appear to be online at all. They were unreal and I think I preferred them to the hyped 2001 AJPW match(es?) those two had. I think I have the NJPW matches on a VHS from JL hidden in the crawl space somewhere. :(


Edit: OH SHIT! The May/99 match is on New Japan World!


Double Edit: I just saw your previous post about Toyota being insincere and not selling at all. Always preferred The Dangerous Queen 100x over Toyota.


Also, you should definitely refer to Ditch's various sites for matches. Here's the '90 match between MVC and Tsuruta/Taue.


Completely with you regarding Bret/Bulldog. One of my favourite Bret matches and it was pretty much perfect for its audience. Bret has gone on record in interviews and in his book that Davey was so fucked up at the time that he completely forgot the complex match that Bret had laid out in the weeks prior to the show and gassed very early on. We'll never know if it's Bret being Bret to the Nth degree but Davey was a mess, so I wouldn't be surprised in the least. And watching the match, you can definitely see Davey get blown up. Bret even said Davey fucked up the finish by concentrating more on his wife than Bret, as Bret wanted to put him over big time after the match as the cherry on top. 


And again, you're spot on with Kawada's selling. It's what set him apart from his peers. His willingness to put his opponent over and in the process making himself ultra sympathetic. His but dip/deep squat sell job is one of my favourites. By the end of his more epic matches, he looks like he's about to pass out from pain and exhaustion. So great! We seem to have very similar opinions on rasslin', particular the Jahpahkneez style. Jumbo - Kawada - Hansen ftw.


And as highly hyped as 1993 is for AJPW (many considered it to be the best in-ring year from any promotion ever), I think I prefer '92 because of Tsuruta's presence, Kawada's progression, and Hansen still being the gaijin monster.

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I'd recommend The Steiner Brothers vs Steve Williams & Terry Gordy from Clash 19. I always loved that match very much.

I reviewed this one about a month ago(post #623 in this thread), but it felt like an incomplete match.  It isn't bad by any means, but it felt like a match to set up a match more than an actual match onto itself.  There is a very good chance I let my expectations get the best of me on that one, but I think it could have been so much better if they would have let the Steiners get a legitimate comback.

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I've been watching alot of random WCW matches. 


- Faces of Fear vs RNR Express. Fun match with Public Enemy running in to attack FoF afterwards just to get their ass beat. Hard to believe TPE were tag champs at the time.


- Faces of Fear vs Fantastics. I did a search for Barbarian on WWE Network and went on a Faces of Fear kick. This match rules for 2 spots. 1 - Meng backdrop Fulton into Barbarian's arms who powerbombs him. 2 - Barbarian catches Rogers doing a crossbody from the top & holds him in a bodyslam position while Meng gives him a huge boot to the face. Awesome finisher for a team that never really had a finisher that I know of. 


- Barbarian & Butch Reed vs Windham & Rhodes. Barbarian/Butch Reed/Cactus Jack/Tony Atlas/Jake Roberts is the greatest random stable ever even if most of them were gone within months. Windham & Rhodes were one of my favorite teams as a kid. This match automatically rules.


- Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton(w/Michael PS Hayes) vs Dick Slater & Dick Slater(w/Larry Zybysko). More awesomeness from the same COTC card as the above tag. Valentine & Slater shouldve been a tag team for decades. 


EDIT: Greg Valentine & Dick Slater not Dick Slater & his time traveling multiverse partner Dick Slater

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Steiners vs Doom- This is from an episode of Power Hour in the 90s I believe. Typically awesome considering whos involved, but the end is pretty ridiculous. Its a wild brawl involving many chairshots but ends with Butch Reed piledriving Scott on a chair on the floor and Scott is up and brawling within 5 seconds. Kinda Road Warrior Hawk-ish of him. Also worth seeing to remember how awesome Steiners coming to the ring to "Welcome to the Jungle" was. 


Steiners & Nasty Boys vs Road Warriors & TPE - I had no clue this ever happened. I always hated the Nasty Boys. Rocco Roc gets tons of ring time because nobody else on his team knows how to sell. Ends in an 8 man brawl DQ.


Rick Steiner & Beefcake vs Scott Steiner & Craig PIttman - This is from Slamboree 96 which is Lethal Lottery, It's mostly worth watching to see the awesome exchange between Rick & Scott. They trade numerous amateur wrestling takedowns and some chain wrestling before they start dumping each other on their heads with numerous suplexes. It's a pretty lengthy exchange.


TPE vs Disco Inferno & Alex Wright - This is from Road Wild 98. Pretty crappy match but featured a ton of Tokyo Magnum interference & Disco Inferno going through 3 tables when Roc climbs a scaffold and elbows him.  


Doom vs Italian Stallion & Richard Sartain - From Power Hour in 89. I had no clue Doom had a finisher either but it's awesome. They slingshot Sartain towards the turnbuckles while Simmons dives off the ropes clotheslining him which basically results in murdering him due to awful timing. 


The Merietta Massacre - When I was a kid I honestly wanted to kill after seeing this. I remember me and my Dad flipping out. For years I hunted down this moment on tape and now it's readily available on Youtube. Thank you technology.The single greatest cage beatdown in history. The SST & Freebirds just demolish the Road Warriors.

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I tried to watch a couple of the HHH/Brock matches... and QUICKLY tapped out. Funny how Triple Fucking H is the only guy who goes even-steven with Brock Lesnar. Each match starts with Trips beating the living shit out of Brock for five minutes, and I just shut the video off in disgust. It's amazing how hard they were trying to ruin Lesnar in this feud, when EVERYONE else he gets in the ring with gets treated like an extra Mulkey brother. Is this company seriously trying to convince me that Trippy is tougher than Cena, Big Show, Reigns, AND the god-damned Undertaker?

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just watched WCW Road Wild '98.


is the nWo vs. Wolfpac vs. Goldberg Battle Royal the worst battle royal ever? it was terrible. Goldberg eliminated 6 of the 8 other competitors (Nash stepped over himself), lastly jackhammering the Giant. he speared Curt Hennig twice and the Giant once, otherwise he avoided everything. it just wasn't interesting. at all.


and i skipped the Leno tag match (i'm not THAT big a glutton for punishment).



Meng vs Barbarian was a fun brawl. i enjoyed it.

Public Enemy vs Disco Inferno/Alex Wright (w/Tokyo Magnum) wasn't very good.

Raven vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon was a fun triple threat.

Rey vs. Psychosis didn't really live up to hype.
Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Stevie Ray was an entertaining pseudo-TV Title match.
Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner doesn't happen and elicits boos.
Brian "Crush" Adams vs Mongo McMichael was, as expected, not good.
Jericho is awesome. his title defense against Juventud Guerrera was perfectly servicable but not fantastic.


overall, some OK moments. nothing amazing. but man, those lows are SO bad.

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Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs Mayumi Ozaki & Dynamite Kansai (AJW Dream Rush 11/26/92)


Of all the matches in 1992 that Dave Meltzer didn’t rate, this is the match that came up the most.  I’ve heard that this is one of the best matches of all time from multiple sources, and I’m excited to give it a shot.  First thing I notice about this match is that I would not like to be kicked by Dynamite Kansai.  One day I’m going to compile a list of wrestlers I’d least like to be kicked by.  I don’t know where Ms. Kansai is going to rank, but I have a feeling it will be pretty high.  This is a 2 out of 3 falls match and the first fall ends with Dynamite Kansai trying to end Manami Toyota’s career with a Thunder Fire Powerbomb.  The second fall begins with her going for another powerbomb on Toyota, but this time she counters it into a sunset flip and Yamada comes in and suplexes Kansai approximately 1815950185147852186252 times.  After that crazy series of suplexes, Yamada hits a release vertibreaker/cop killer to take the fall.  Now both Manami Toyota and Dynamite Kansai will need spinal fusion surgery after this match.  I have to say, the tag format minimizes a lot of my usual criticisms of Joshi.  I can buy the lack of selling, when you have time to go to the outside and recover.  Manami Toyota is a really good hot tag, her sprinting dropkicks and moonsaults make more sense when she’s the freshest worker in a match.  I still don’t think I’m a Toyota fan, but Yamada and Kansai are right up my alley.  I know I talked about Kansai’s kicks, but Yamada isn’t exactly working light.  She throws a mean kick too, and the ones to the back of the head look downright brutal.  Ozaki is a really good heel, especially when Kansai has a submission locked in.  Multiple times in the match Toyota is trying to reach for the ropes and she either steps on her hand, blocks her from reaching the rope, and once she even locked an armbar on the arm she was reaching with.  She might be the best worker of the apron I’ve ever seen, she’s just a huge asshole on the outside.  This match finishes with about 76 suplexes, 24,578 kicks to the head, and 4 concussions.  Finally Toyota hits a strait jacket suplex for the third fall.  This match is about 50 minutes of crazy action, but it flies by.  While I don’t think this is the best match of 1992, like I’ve read a couple of places, it is the best Joshi match I’ve ever watched.  ****1/2 seems about right.


El Dandy vs Negro Casas (CMLL 07/03/92)


Honestly I started this project to have a nearly endless list of matches to watch whenever I was in the wrestling mood, but as I’ve  progressed I’ve found myself less than satisfied with the limits of Meltzer’s list.  There are some years where he seems to have watched a little bit of everything.  There are some years where it seems like he had limited time and overlooked a shitload of matches.  This is one of those years, because it seems like he completely ignored lucha.  I’ve been curious about lucha for probably 20 years now, but there is something about the style that doesn’t really appeal to me.  With that said, if I’m going to spend the time trying to watch all of the great matches in the history of modern wrestling(Yep, now that is my goal), I’m going to have to learn to appreciate the style.  As long as I’ve been curious about lucha the name Negro Casas has seemingly been in the conversation of people to watch and while I was doubting El Dandy, people on the internet were singing his praises.  So if I’m going to start going back and watching some of the lucha Meltzer missed, this match seems like a pretty good place to start.  Two things about lucha stick out to me, the fact that every referee seems to suck and the transitions seem to come out of nowhere.  This is a pretty good example of the first, but the second isn’t nearly as striking as it usually is.  These two guys are really crisp in the ring, their matwork is just on a different level than anything you see anywhere else.  In Japan they try to do matwork from time to time, but it feels like they are trying to build a baseline pace in the match so when the hot finish comes it seems much more epic.  Here matwork is integral to the match in a way that seems more important.  These submission moves are done to slowly sap their opponent’s strength while limiting their opponent’s chance to inflict damage. They are used like jabs in boxing or leg kicks in MMA.  They are techniques that won’t finish you instantly, but when you add them all up they can.  So the first fall goes to Negro Casas after a couple of uranage slams and a sharpshooter.  The second fall sees Casas get a little cocky and pays for it after going for a second clothesline gets countered into a tilt-a-whirl back breaker.  Dandy takes over and locks in a dragon sleeper.  Dandy wears Casas down and pins him with an overly complicated bridging roll up.  The third fall sees Dandy pick up the pace and start going for more of a high flying style looking to put Casas away.  In an example of one of my biggest criticisms of the style Dandy hits Casas with a missile dropkick only for Casas to get up first and land an elbow drop like nothing happened.  Seriously, why not just move away from the dropkick and take over on offense instead of taking the dropkick and taking over any way?  It doesn’t make sense to my wrestling mind for him to not be more hurt than Dandy in that instance.  Casas takes over and hits a couple of powerbombs, but can’t get the pin.  He is hitting Dandy with everything he has, but can’t put him away.  He goes for a vertical suplex, but Dandy counters to a northern lights suplex for a quick one count.  Casas still in much better shape than Dandy puts him on the top rope to go for a superplex, only for Dandy to push him off.  Dandy hits a double axe handle followed by a missile dropkick to Casas’ back.  Dandy has all the momentum and eventually finishes Casas with a la majistral cradle.  This was really good and by far the best lucha match I’ve ever watched.  I’d give this a ****1/2. 


Blue Panther vs Super Astro (AAA 10/09/92)


We open with Super Astro coming to the ring to Ric Flair’s music (I know that song has a name and is from a pretty famous movie, but to me it is Flair’s music.  I also believe that they played the Macho Man music for my graduation, just for me.)   Blue Panther comes out with a guy who may or may not be Chavo Guerrero (I think it is Chavo Classic, but the video quality isn’t great enough for me to say it isn’t someone who looks like Chavo Classic.).  Super Astro, who is built like the love child of a fire hydrant and a tree stump, is surprisingly agile.  I really expected him to be the base for Panther’s flying, but he seems to be able to hit spinning drags and tilt-a-whirl head scissors from any position.  Do you guys remember when Rey Mysterio could seemingly hit a hurricarana out of an actual hurricane? That is how Super Astro is, but with arm drags and head scissors.  He takes the first fall, which was pretty back and forth, with a moonsaulting headbutt from the top rope.  Super Astro charges Blue Panther to start the second fall, but misses.  It doesn’t stop him from hitting another crazy arm drag followed by a hurricarana.  He goes for another moonsaulting headbutt, this time from the ground, but misses.  Panther locks in an abdominal stretch and the second fall is over really quickly.  Why is every lucha referee a senior citizen with a bad hip?  There is a sequence in the third fall of this match where Super Astro hits a bunch of quick roll-ups, but the referee takes his sweet ass time walking over to Panther’s shoulders, taking a knee, laying down, and then starting to count.  It takes more than the three seconds it would take for him to count the pinfall for him to even start counting.  Ok, I’m done ranting.  Super Astro hits a cartwheel backwards headbutt that sends Panther to the outside.  Super Astro then dives through the ropes with a tope that hit Blue Panther at about 75 miles per hour.  For a dive that seems to happen over and over again on WWE TV these days, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one quite that good.  You know how people say that bees shouldn’t be able to fly, because they aren’t aerodynamic enough?  That is essentially what watching Super Astro is like, he doesn’t look like he can fly, but it damn sure doesn’t stop him from flying.  He also hits another moonsaulting headbutt, this time to the floor, where he gets major air time.  I’m sitting here trying to think of an apt comparison to his ability to fly.  I can’t think of a single other wrestler who is anywhere close to his level of stocky that is also such a graceful high flyer.  Silver King is probably closest, but he isn’t nearly as stocky nor as graceful.  Super Astro isn’t just a good high flyer, there is a level of grace that most wrestlers, especially those built like him, can’t even dream of achieving.  The third fall ends when Blue Panther reverses one of Super Astros rollups for the pin.  This was a super fun match, the biggest problem being the ref being too slow to make those rollups seem like legit near falls.  I’d give this one ****1/4.


Akira Hokuto vs Kyoko Inoue (AJW Dream Rush 11/26/92)


This starts off with a couple of really intense collar and elbow stalemates.  Inoue finally backs Hokuto into a corner and slaps the taste out of her mouth.  Hokuto, an avid foodie, enjoys having taste in her mouth and expresses her annoyance by suplexing Inoue right on her fucking head.  Inoue bails to the outside to gather herself.  She comes in and counters a Hokuto spin kick into a giant swing.  OK, I know that Cesaro’s giant swings are on people who probably weigh 100 lbs. more than Hokuto, but I’ve never seen a more impressive giant swing than this one.  Inoue spins around for what has to be 30 spins minimum, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she got to 50.  She seems to be spinning around forever.  The crowd starts counting when she starts, stops counting after about 15 spins, starts cheering that she’s still spinning after a while, and then cheers even louder when she spins 10 or so times after they started cheering the first time.  They then go into some matwork before Hokuto says, “FUCK THIS SHIT,” and hits Inoue with a couple spin kicks to the face.  Hokuto then goes for a superplex, but can’t get it so she dumps Inoue to the floor and hits a plancha.  Inoue barely makes it back to the apron before the referee counts her out only to have Hokuto kick her off and hit a somersault plancha.  Inoue struggles to get back in and before she can even figure out where Hokuto is, Hokuto hits her with a missile drop kick.  Inoue, who is close to death reverses a crossbody from the top for a 2 count.  Inoue then hits a crazy German suplex and a falling back elbow drop from the top rope.  Hokuto counters a springboard back elbow and goes up to the top for a splash.  Inoue gets her knees up and goes for another top rope falling elbow, only for Hokuto to kick her in the back of the head.(that shit looked nasty)  Hokuto then hits a Northern Lights Bomb and pins Inoue for the win.  This was fun, they wrestled like two people who respected the hell out of each other, but kind of hated each other at the same time.  I have to say, I’m starting to enjoy the hell out of joshi.  I think the problem I had with it was that I had heard about Manami Toyota and how great she was, but I think she’s my least favorite joshi wrestler.  I’d much rather watch Bull Nakano, Hokuto, Yamada, Kansai, or Ozaki than Toyota, but when I first gave joshi a shot Toyota is who I decided to start with.  Once again this project has opened my eyes to something I would have missed otherwise, I’ll give this ****1/4.


Volk Han vs Dick Vrij (RINGS 08/21/92)


I’ve watched somewhere close to zero shoot style wrestling, mostly because what I’ve seen hasn’t been very good.  MMA is exciting because the fight can end at any time, while wrestling is exciting because it ends logically.  Trying to put a worked match into the MMA format forces you to take one of the most exciting parts of one of those formats and throws it out of a window.   You can either make a match that could end whenever or make a match that has a logical conclusion.  It is impossible to do both.  In my brief experience the only way to make a worked shoot compelling is to emphasize that it is a work.  What I mean by that is the only way for us to look at a worked shoot and believe that it is real is to know that it is fake.  The only way we will believe is if the workers sell it to us.  This is really just a 5 minute highlight reel of this match, but I included it any way because I’ve heard a lot about Volk Han and wanted to see what the fuss is about.  In my opinion the difference between good wrestling and great wrestling is how good the selling is, it is what makes us care.  This match is worked like a legit MMA bout with rope breaks except for Volk Han’s selling.  This is essentially the classic striker vs. grappler match up where Dick Vrij has an insane advantage in the striking department.  Volk Han takes kicks to the legs, body, and head and sells them like every single strike is significant.  Each of Vrij’s leg kicks do visible damage, and the head kicks are absolutely devastating.  The match ends when Vrij goes for a body kick and Han counters it into a STF.  Vrij taps immediately, and I just watched the first worked shoot that made sense while being worked like it was a legit MMA match.  The story of the match was Volk Han was the superior grappler, but Vrij was good enough to get to the ropes.  Vrij was the bigger and stronger striker, and wore Han down with leg kicks and came close to knocking him out with a couple of high kicks.  As soon as Han was able to get Vrij to the ground away from the ropes, the submission came immediately.  It was the first time I’ve watched a match where it came to a logical conclusion, and seemed to end out of nowhere.  I once again find myself intrigued. 


Ric Flair vs Genichiro Tenryu (SWS 09/15/92)


If I had an alley, this match would be right up it.  First and foremost this match has the best pair of entrance ropes of all time.  Ric Flair, who was nearing the end of his WWF run, seemed to be really excited for this match.  He had been working the toned down WWF style for a while and was ready to have a hard hitting, barn burner of a wrestling match.  The strike exchanges in this match are basically two dudes just slapping the shit out of each other full force.  It is the world’s manliest slap fight.  Flair, who controls much of the first fall, makes a mistake when going for his knee breaker and Tenryu takes the first fall with a powerbomb.  Tenryu controls the beginning of the second fall.  There is a chop exchange that will make you cringe, and Flair begs off.  Tenryu rolls his eyes and throws his hands up at such cowardly behavior only to have Flair jump up and poke him in the eye.  Flair takes over with a series of suplexes, including a knee breaker he holds onto and turns into a backdrop.  Tenryu makes a brief comeback after another nasty chop exchange where he gets a drop toe hold and teases putting Flair into the figure four.  Flair kicks him off and takes over completely, and begins to destroy Tenryu’s knee.  Flair does all of his usual knee work and adds some wrinkles to pander to the Japanese crowd, like the half crab.  Flair then locks on the figure four and takes the second fall after Tenryu can’t get his shoulders off of the mat, because of his extreme pain.  He has to roll to his corner between falls, because Flair’s work on his leg was just that debilitating.  The third fall starts, and Tenryu is sitting in the corner, but Flair realizes that he is a wounded animal and isn’t going to rush in.  He makes Tenryu stand only to take him down with a drop toe hold and lock in an STF.  Flair’s offense in this match is more varied than usual.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him do an STF, but here he is.  Tenryu gets to the ropes and Flair locks in another figure four only for Tenryu to catch him in a heel hook before he can really cinch it in.  Flair gets to the ropes, and instead of breaking he finally cinches the figure four in.  Tenryu grabs the heel again, and both guys are clearly in pain.  Flair gets the ropes again and this time decides that he better get out of that position before Tenryu is able to damage him further.  The rest of the match goes back and forth until Flair hits another chop block, and instead of going in for the kill decides to strut around the apron.  Tenryu hits an enziguri that drives Flair’s head into the turnbuckle, and then hits a lariat that sends Flair to the floor.  We get a really fun match, but a terrible finish.  I’d give this a ***3/4. 


So this project is ever evolving, and while I will be using the Meltzer list as my baseline, I’m going to try to expand this as broadly as I possibly can.  The goal is still to only watch matches rated 4* or more, but that is going to be a more abstract concept than actually having it be documented at 4*s.  Meltzer just plain missed too many great matches (For instance Magnum vs. Tully from Starrcade 85 isn’t on his list).  So I’m going to keep going chronologically for the most part, but I’m going to be trying to find a bunch of the matches he missed.  So I’ll probably start 1993 in the next week or so, but there are going to be a lot of other matches interspersed throughout.

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Perfect commentary on mat work's place in puroresu and lucha libre. While there have been many instances where the story is implicitly conveyed through matwork in Japan (Destroyer/Baba!), it's often there as a pace setter and to kill time. The best lucha libre I've seen are matches from the early '90s (haven't watched the '80s lucha set) where you get a real sense of what they're shooting for and the holds are actually locked in and the opponent must find a way to counter or escape instead of the lazy, typical stuff we see in other styles. British wrestling does this extremely well too.


Glad you're getting in on the early '90s joshi love outside of Toyota. Just brutal stiffness and displays of heart from those women. I ordered a set of miscellaneous joshi footage from the late '80s through the early '90s from Dan Ginnetty ages ago and should get around to watching that...


On selling being the most important thing in wrestling, I agree wholeheartedly. That and how wrestlers fill time between moves are so important. The latter because it gives time for both selling and to demonstrate an understanding of the character they are portraying. If you're a good seller and you know you're character, filling in time between moves effectively comes easily and is pure art. I have a lot of UWF (original and the complete second iteration) that I can recommend and/or upload if it's not online somewhere. UWFi's ESPN show was just recently archived online for free too and it has English commentary! My viewing of UWFi is pretty limited and the series doesn't include anything with Vader, unfortunately. I've always been a fan of Maeda more so than Takada. Yamazaki is also the shit.




Toshiaki Kawada/Masanobu Fuchi vs. Yuji Nagata/Takashi Iizuka (December 14, 2000)


I've watched this twice this week, with two different friends. I remember this show vividly as it's one of the first (then) current New Japan shows I ordered instead of best of collection types or Toryumon/M-pro/Big Japan shows. This match turned into a personal favourite because it really did an exceptional job in introducing me to the heavyweight style, as I had mostly stuck to the juniors up to this point. Anyway, what this match does so extraordinarily well is establish a hierarchy of power among the four wrestlers. One of my friends is a long-time WWF/E fan who's dabbling with Japanese wrestling. I asked him to watch the match and rank the wrestlers in a hierarchy from strongest to weakest. He quickly learned the guy with the pants that was kicking everybody's face was at the top. :) He right away fell in love with Fuchi because of his facials and body language. But it wasn't long before he saw Nagata save Iizuka time and time again that he recognized the guy in the blue shorts was number 2. Initially, he thought Fuchi was 3 and Iizuka 4 but after discussing it some more, he noticed that Fuchi was almost always on offense after Kawada had set up the opponent and then he saw how long Fuchi was out of order for near the end of the match. Iizuka is great as the fiery underdog that sells an ass whipping and then comes back later on to get some revenge on Fuchi. It becomes pretty clear as Iizuka quickly finds a second wind and Fuchi's blown up (kayfabe'd) and slowing down as the match goes along, leaving my friend to conclude that Iizuka is 3 and Fuchi is 4 on the totem pole. I also told him that I think Kawada's selling is among the best of all times if not outright the best and this is such a great fucking example of it. He sells the leg work done by both his opponents expertly, limping around but not in a hammy way and then falling down due to the bad leg when they attack it out of desperation. Better yet, he looks like he's going to tap to a simple knee bar from Iizuka late in the match. He's simply incredible in this. And it all began with him dominating everybody and everything in the opening 15 minutes or so. Fuchi needs his help pretty often and then Fuchi's taken out with a sleeper hold for about 5 minutes, leaving the two New Japan heroes to chip away at King Shit of Fuck Mountain. Such fantastic storytelling that is great if you're familiar with everybody involved but is so well structured and the characters so well defined that even neophytes can more or less immediately get it. 


This match is the perfect way to really set the tone for an interpromotional feud, as it ends in a draw. Kawada looks like a world beater, Nagata looks like he's ready to take the role of company ace (which would soon blow up in his face - partly his doing, mostly Inoki's doing), Iizuka is the great underdog that proved his worth in the end, and Fuchi just soaked up the moment and was a million bucks. So, everybody comes out looking better AND it builds up Kawada effectively for his upcoming dome main event match against Kensuke (who was very concerned as he looked on from ringside) less than a month away. The draw didn't feel cheap; instead, it left me wanting more. This is perfect for what it was. *****

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I dunno, the draw didn't work for me. I wanted the proverbial five more minutes, or for them to at least brawl afterwards. Not that it isn't an amazing match, of course. 


Both of you guys should get the '80s lucha set and delve into some really interesting stuff. And supremebve, I can recommend some BattlARTS that certainly belonged on a Meltzer list but didn't even make a blip on his radar. In '92 he was probably willing to look into RINGS but there's a lot of BattlARTS that smokes that or even primo UWF/UWFi. 

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I'm in the process of re-watching Starrcade 83. I love Dusty and was bummed when he died, but that's some Big Poochie shit going on with him, and he isn't even wrestling on the card. We'd like to welcome Dusty Rhodes. Where's Dusty Rhodes? What do you think of Dusty Rhodes?

We get it.

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I'm in the process of re-watching Starrcade 83. I love Dusty and was bummed when he died, but that's some Big Poochie shit going on with him, and he isn't even wrestling on the card. We'd like to welcome Dusty Rhodes. Where's Dusty Rhodes? What do you think of Dusty Rhodes?

We get it.


Dusty didn't die. He just went back to his home planet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, 8/29/98


can't find video online, but the Headbangers face off against the Pitbulls.

there were a couple of Pitbulls signs from the fans, which surprised me, until i remembered that this was in Philadelphia.

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