Jump to content
DVDVR Message Board

Matt Watches 1989 AJPW on a Treadmill


Matt D
 Share

Recommended Posts

33 minutes ago, El Gran Gordi said:

Love that review! Must see that match now.

For a split second, my brain thought it was a very very young Shingo Takagi and I was all, like, "WHOA!"¬†ūüėĀ

I'm guessing Takagi = Arashi? If so, I am even more eager to see this. 

 

I don't think it's readily online:

Again, I'm not sure if it'll resonate as much to other people, but it definitely hit the mark for me having been watching this stuff so comprehensively.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh yeah, that was really cool. I don't know if I ever would have watched that match, or paid close attention to it, or appreciated it in the same way without having read your thoughts on it first... but that is how I came to this match and watching it with your review in mind, it's really easy to see what you are talking about.

Takagi is clearly a big, tough kid. He'd be 27 years old here, but only two and a half years into his wrestling career. Presumably the fans would know that he was recruited personally by Baba out of the sumo ranks, and that (according to Wikipedia) he'd been to America with Baba where they made the semi-finals of the '87 Crockett Cup. 

The story of the match can be boiled down to: It's two of the biggest, meanest, most talented men in all of pro wrestling facing off against (one of) The Greatest Wrestler(s) in the World and a big tough kid who just isn't on the same level as everyone else in the ring. 

As you say, I don't see how they could have told this story any better than they do here. I'm sure there are details that I miss because I haven't been obsessively watching late-80s AJPW, but it's really clear. For example, when Hansen has Jumbo tied up in Jumbo's corner and Takagi tags in, Hansen just beats the kid up with one arm while continuing to pressure Jumbo. Hansen and Tenryu are never concerned when Takagi tags in. Hansen always rushes over to break up Jumbo's pin attempts on Tenryu, but never has to do the same when the kid goes for a pin. It's beautiful, natural, logical. They give Takagi just enough of a shine. It ends exactly as it should. 

I have to agree: A pretty much perfect example of how to structure and how to work this kind of match. 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where am I? Let's see:

7/3/89: Jumbo/Yatsu/Kabuki vs Tenryu/Fuyuki/Hansen: Saw this a few days ago and it's a blur now. It's nice to see Hansen with the group. It's nice to see Fuyuki in there, though he mostly takes offense. I liked all of the Kabuki/Hansen exchanges. Kabuki could sort of do one thing (kick guys) but he did it well. I remember nothing else, but rest assured that this was baseline top-card 89 AJPW and baseline top-card 89 AJPW was good.

7/3/89: Fantastics vs Kobashi/Fuchi: This, on the other hand, was disappointing. Bobby Fulton is over the top charismatic, so much so that there's no way that they won't be the de facto faces, which makes 89 Kobashi a de facto heel, which is not a good thing in the least. This match made me give Kawada even more credit for their singles match. Fuchi grounds things and Kobashi is basically his minion, but there were a bunch of times he seemed pretty lost in there.

7/11/89: Joe Malenko (c) vs Dean Malenko: This was best when Dean was using his superior speed and flexibility and Joe was out-savvy-ing him like an older brother should. I think along those lines, Joe gave Dean a little too much, maybe, but almost every specific thing they did was great. Dean's bridges were amazing and Joe's tricked-out cut-offs were as well. There was a sense that Dean could get away with something once but never twice. Unlike Joe's other matches, there were less bombs/suplexes to break things up but maybe you didn't need them as much for what they were trying to do.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/11/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Hansen/Tenryu: This had 3 chapters or so to it, an opening where Tenryu and Hansen were pretty much getting in each other's way, a middle where they had some control over Hansen's arm, and then a finish where Jumbo (after hitting the big knee into the corner and then taking the Ultimo Guerrero bump to the floor) came back in with an injured leg and just got decimated inside and outside the ring. Lots of little flourishes throughout. This might be the single most struggle-heavy match I've ever seen. Everything took effort. Nothing was given. Nothing was kept for free. Everything had a cost. I've talked about how Hansen was a trade up for Tenryu, but really, Tenryu was a trade up for Hansen too, even over a guy like Gordy. The dynamic at the end with Jumbo being the one who was being dismantled instead of Tenryu felt very fresh to me and showed how things had changed. The finish was top notch as Yatsu drew both Tenryu/Hansen out to the floor to buy Jumbo some time to recover. Hansen had to rush in to beat the count which let Jumbo get one last chance at him, but he didn't have nearly enough left in a tank and a quick Lariat ended it. Obviously a great match to go along with a bunch of others.

7/11/89: Fuyuki vs Kobashi: We only get two minutes of this, if that, considering the post-match, but it was a real sign that Kobashi was on his way. This went to a 30 minute draw which felt, to me at least, like a real moment for Kobashi. It ended right at a superplex by Fuyuki which could have done the trick but he was too late with it. Between Tenryu teaming with Hansen and Kobashi starting to slip through, it really does feel like 6/4 was a transition point in the footage.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/15/89: Tenryu/Hansen vs Jumbo/Kenta Kobashi: The night Kenta Kobashi became a man. I feel like I need to bullet point this as I have a lot of disparate thoughts:

  • This was #16 on the 80s set and I can see that, certainly.
  • As you probably know, Kobashi only got his first win in May (against Mitch Snow, yes), after a 60+ losing streak. This was Baba's way of making him sympathetic. Until that win, however, he's been a total non-factor on TV. I've barely seen him during the year at all, but the crowd certainly knew him and loved him already.
  • Right when they started feuding in 87, Tenryu came off as a bit of a heel, goading Jumbo and avoiding him in the ring. Throughout 88 and especially early into 89 when Hara is replaced by the more vulnerable Kawada, it's more even, with Jumbo going over the line more often. Hansen's presence shifts that balance however, and Tenryu is much more heel-ish during this run of matches.
  • The initial strategy here gets Kobashi over immediately. Jumbo calls for an ambush and takes it right to Tenryu, including with a chair on the outside. Given the sheer disparity, they need an early advantage, but that means that Kobashi has to dropkick Hansen out and then chase after him, which, of course, means that he's going to get trounced on the floor. But he's brave enough to do it with open eyes and be the sacrifice to buy Jumbo time. That's the point.
  • There are plenty¬† of wholly appropriate things in this match to get Kobashi over. They are so good at giving him exactly enough. I almost think he gets one or two more comebacks than he should, but that's the same thing they did in the first big Kawada match after Hara left. He was super aggressive and took more of the match than he would in his next few where he was on the end of a long beatdown more. Establish and then let it simmer, I guess.
  • Iconic moments in this one to make Kobashi: he gets to hit his forward motion slap exchange on Tenryu (though it mainly pisses him off), gets to suplex Hansen right on his head, barely getting him over (which pisses him off), faces off against Tenryu at the end (though ultimately fails), and really is just seen to control both guys, even for a few moments, including a huge half crab on Tenryu. You don't get to control Hansen, even for a moment and even with Jumbo's help, without being something special. And he did a lot of it on his own.
  • Hansen is one of maybe five wrestlers ever that could shut down a dropkick in the corner just by kicking it.
  • The crowd was almost constantly chanting for Jumbo or Kobashi. Even when he was running into Hansen/Tenryu double punches and bumping big.
  • Yes, Kobashi loses, and he's completely shellshocked post match, but Jumbo holds him up and presents him to the crowd and it's an awesome moment.
  • 89 Kawada wrestles like a guy who knows he deserves to be there and will do anything to prove it. 89 Kobashi wrestles like a guy who wants it so damn much and will do whatever it takes to show it. That this is so readily apparent to me just from how they move and how they channel their intensity says so much about both them and the canvas they have to work on.
  • .... and somewhere, sitting at home nursing the injury from March that would keep him out for the rest of the year, was Tiger Mask II.
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's the @RIPPAspecial tonight.

7/15/89: Fantastics vs Joe/Dean Malenko: I had a problem with this one where the first time I tried to put it online, it got immediately wiped off. No idea why.

Here's a vimeo link I found:

Really, it's a hell of a match. The last Fantastics match I saw (vs Fuchi/Kobashi) wasn't great, but this was. Fantastics really hung with the chain wrestling. Rogers I expected but Fulton impressed me. The initial Dean/Rogers exchange with neither guy able to get over on the other was really good, and i like how it led to a double team whip assisted armdrag two tags later because at that point in the match, that's what it took to get Dean over. Ultimately, the Malenkos got the better wrestling-wise, but the Fantastics had more flash and steady teamwork, though everything had to be fought for and worked at. It went around a couple of times with escalation and bringing it back down but then all sort of fell apart towards the end (Dean and Fulton had a bit of miscommunication). Overall, it's hard to complain though.

7/18/89: Joe and Dean Malenko vs Mighty Inoue/Yoshinari Ogawa: Handheld footage. So, Inoue looked great here. Lots of little leverage moves (and some big ones like the fireman's carry gutbuster) and grittiness. I get why they teamed Fuchi with Kobashi and Inoue with Ogawa but if they had just put Fuchi with Inoue, we would have had a hell of a match. Ogawa hung in there, in as such, he let himself get stretched and didn't let things fall apart. We all know (and love, dammit) what he'd become but he was a far way away from there. At this point, he sort of reminds me of a Disco Inferno or Miz type that can't do the highly athletic stuff and know it but he didn't have the character yet to make up for it. This is probably my favorite era Dean. Being the younger brother in the tag freed him up to have so much more sizzle as he needed it to stand out with Joe bringing so much substance. In the Fantastics match he did this cool spinning side slam and here he had a suplex-take over DDT thing which was pretty awesome. But yeah, Inoue looked like a total worldbeater here.

EDIT: Today I learned that the Malenkos came out to Power of Love. Baffling and amazing.

Edited by Matt D
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/15/89: Jumbo/Fuchi/Kabuki vs Baba/Tenta/Kimura: This was some sort of Brody remembrance match or something, I think, because of how out of the norm it is and the fact they don't shut up about the jerk on commentary. I loved the buzz pre-match for just the idea that 89 Jumbo and Baba would lock up. There was a little bit of quite enjoyable comedy with Tenta teasing a dive (see below) and Kabuki making a funny expression at him, but this was straighter than you'd expect for the most part. Baba was fairly spry in there including a go behind hammerlock takedown. Kabuki mostly did throat shots and not kicks. Tenta pretty much got it at this point. He was still doing the three point stance charge, but was much better from a year before when it came to using his size and knowing what to give and what not to give. Fuchi was in there a lot and created a good deal of the motion, looking all around good, though what I'll remember is how he just threw himself face first into Baba's foot to set up the finish.

zvWxom.gif

7/18/89: Taue vs Hansen: Handheld match. There was a sort of sports feel to this at times where you got the sense Taue was glad to have a shot at Hansen. It was a big game for him. He really didn't have the presence yet though. He was athletic enough and had the size and that made Hansen a little more respectful and apprehensive with him than he would be with someone else, but he didn't loom. He'd reverse whips and power back and keep Hansen from eating him alive, but you never got the sense that Hansen was actually in any trouble. The crowd was appreciative but I think they were just really ready to cheer and chant for this new generation. I had gone back and looked at the start of the year Observers for 89 a while ago and the talk was mainly about the loss of Hara and Brody and diminishing returns for the Roadies and how things were weak when it came to star power and the main event scene. We're seeing the crowds respond to that by embracing guys like Taue and Kobashi.

Bonus match: 12/12/91: Hogan vs Tenryu: I'm disappointed Hogan came out to Real American and not Eye of the Tiger. Everyone knows Hogan does the headlock, go behind, hammerlock, takedown thing in Japan, but I forgot he had a good flipping, leg hook, cross armbreaker too. Well good is more like "A for Effort." This felt like a big deal and the crowd was living and breathing for Tenryu's kickouts, but despite them blowing a bunch of finishes towards the end, it doesn't quite get into the gear it needs to in the end. There's a lot of battle of the titans disengaging between each lock up which adds to the mood, but only if this got another five mintues or so of them actually grinding down on each other and hitting bombs. It means those finisher kick outs are both more or and less earned, because they didn't do enough damage to put each other away but they also didn't do enough damage to get the finishers in the first place, you know? Plus Hogan's axe bombers (except for the one he misses) looks like clotheslines instead of sweeping forearms, which is weird because they usually don't. Oh, and Hogan hurting his leg on the jumping knee was bullshit because it's all blown off a minute later, not even in a hulk up. If you're going to blow it off like that, just don't do it in the first place. Plenty to like here but some real issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/18/89: Tenryu vs Yatsu: Pretty rare singles match between these two. To keep a sports analogy going, when wrestling Tenryu, you have to run the score up big, and even then it's probably not going to matter too much. Yatsu controls early and maybe there's a moment, ten+ minutes later that it almost matters when he has the figure four variation (Yatsu Lock?) in, but it's almost impossible to run the score up enough. Tenryu is so tough, so resilient, and he can always come back. Here, he does so by taking things to the floor and using plunder. Yatsu can't match him there, and at the end, even with multiple bulldogs, he just can't put him away. This felt like Arn Anderson vs Hogan or something along those lines. Yatsu's one of the best and probably a better tag cog than Tenryu, but he just didn't have enough in his arsenal to put Tenryu away. It was almost a mathematical exercise in the end. You can't beat fate.

7/18/89: Footloose vs Fantastics: Not a lot of narrative. Very back and forth. Lacking the hierarchy and natural structure you get from other matches. It was missed even though the action here was good. Solid tandem offense. Both Fantastics hung pretty easily with Footloose (and vice versa). It all just felt a little hollow to me.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll bonus watch that at some point. Yatsu leaving with Tenryu is intellectually interesting to me since he is such a stalwart presence on top with Jumbo in 87-89. You sort of wonder what things might have looked like if he stayed another year or two.

Anyway,

7/18/89: Jumbo/Kobashi vs Brunzell/Zenk: This is not the match where Zenk gives us a great heel performance. It was, however, built around Kobashi working a lot, getting overwhelmed, Jumbo outmatching either one of his opponents but not always both, and the inevitability of it all. Zenk DID work like a pretty good cruiserweight bully early on, a jerk jock headscissoring Kobashi around. Brunzell is a guy I like a lot, especially in the AWA but he didn't get the memo here and was trying to get the crowd to clap along when they were totally behind Kobashi and Jumbo. I do like how Zenk and Brunzell were talked up for their dropkicks but the actual dropkicks here weren't as good as you'd expect from them. There was a hot tag from Kobashi which wasn't hot enough because AJPW hot tags are never hot enough, not even when the circumstances are perfect for them even despite the lack of clear heel/face divides. Jumbo came in and kneed people in the face or hit a clothesline and raised his arm like a beast. This was good for giving Kobashi some ring time but it was only about 60% of what I wanted it to be.

7/22/89: S. Takano vs Kobashi: I spent the first half of this match a little bit frustrated with Kobashi. He was apprehensive at times, almost as if he was holding back and while he got lucky early and knocked Takano out of the ring, he really didn't capitalize on it. Given the size difference, the only shot he had was to throw himself completely into it and completely at Takano. I knew it; Takano knew it; the fans knew it. They were a little lukewarm on him because he wasn't doing it Now, most likely, it wouldn't work out for him, but it was how he would keep the spirit of things, the momentum, how he would DESERVE to win, and even in losing, if he lost that way, he'd come out better than he came in. It's what this stuff is all about and if I've gained nothing at all from this project, at least I can recognize that much. That's some of the value in fully immersing yourself in a promotion. If there's something there beneath the surface you'll find it. Patterns and subtext. And there is a lot here, even if AJPW defers taking the easy way out a lot of the time. It leaves certain value at the door and makes its wrestlers work three times harder to squeeze out and distill other things. You always miss some of the more familiar values, but what you're left with it still very much worthwhile.

ANYWAY, the point is that down the stretch, he does it. Either he realizes he has no other choice or he's just pushed to a breaking point or he finds his courage or whatever and he just starts throwing himself in every way, shape, and form at Takano and the fans embrace it and it works. It lets him keep the advantage, lets him push it, and it gives him a very unlikely underdog countout win that just felt so right. There'd be a cost to it eventually, but on this night, he found himself and became exactly what he needed to be and exactly what we ALL knew he needed to be, even me, watching thirty+ years later.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/28/89: Jumbo/Yatsu/Kabuki vs Hansen/Tenryu/Kawada: This is pretty much what you'd expect, with a lot of heat on Yatsu and even more on Kawada. It's a bit of an odd arrangement in that regard as Hansen thoroughly drags his side into a de facto heel category as I've mentioned before. He's just a piece of chaos on the outside. Yatsu ends up vulnerable in the first place because Hansen drags him out when he was in control and beats him around the ring (Jumbo uses the time to meander in and beat on Kawada). One aspect of Kawada's game (the game being "get over as tough") is that he really never tags out when he should. The difference between here and six months prior is that he can back it up better. Yes, his fourth kick will get caught but then he'll punch Kabuki right in the face before he can capitalize and keep driving forward. The very best bit of this was the strike exchange between Tenryu and Kabuki. I liked how Tenryu was getting his hands up to try to block but not as much as i liked seeing Kabuki just hit him right in the face. Ultimately, Kawada really should have tagged out at some point, like before Jumbo hit the back drop driver on him.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/28/89: Joe Malenko vs Masa Fuchi: Very good match that maybe needed just a little more at the end. The early matwork here was as good as anything I've seen in AJPW 89, all escalating to a Malenko headbutt that took Fuchi out of the ring. He came back in hot as hell and spent the next long chunk of the match just demolishing Joe's arm. Brutal stuff. It was so one-sided from here on out that Joe's only chance was to take advantage of a mistake and get lucky and he ultimately did once or twice to give him both a false finish and the pin. They teased the Northern Lights earlier so it felt better in the payoff but I'm not sure the arm work was ever really paid off. The move for move work was very good here and there was a narrative throughout but I'm not sure "Vulnerable champion" is the exact role I'd want for Joe.

BONUS match: 10/27/97 Nitro Dean Malenko vs Curt Hennig: I had some time to kill here and I've liked 89 Dean a lot so it made me wonder if I was wrong about him later in his career. Hennig here was game early on, keeping up with Dean in the early elaborate spots, but lacking substance down the stretch. The crowd badly wanted Flair and chanted it heavily, and a different wrestler than Dean Malenko might have found some way to work that into the match. It didn't have to be cheerleading either but instead preying upon Hennig being distracted (or hurt from a Sting attack earlier in the night), but Dean really wrestled as if in a vacuum. There are ways to stay true to the iceman gimmick while still admitting that reality is happening around you. I'd argue that it's far more important to do that on a 97 Nitro with a character like Hennig who was in the midst of multiple big angles than at almost any other point in wrestling history and Dean, despite having perfectly fine work that told a story within the match, completely failed at this. The crowd got up big for the Texas cloverleaf attempt (after a pretty good leg mauling on the outside) but that was more because they were looking for the NWO run in (which Tony even admitted) than they were behind Dean. The finish was pretty garbage as Hennig dropped the leg selling, hit a leg move of his own, and hit the Perfectplex. He could have done literally anything else to set it up but he chose to use a move that impacted his own damage leg and then blew it off. I think, maybe, the biggest shame in Dean's career is that he didn't have a longer WWF/E run because they would have squeezed the character work out of him and rounded him out better. Cheesy James Bond music over the hill womanizer Dean probably could have done amazing things if he had enough matches under his belt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7/22/89: Hansen/Tenryu vs Jumbo/Yatsu: So I have no idea. This was a few days ago now, Sunday maybe? It was a lot of the same. Still good. Still logical and hotly contested. Yatsu might be the most interesting guy in these matches because he really does throw himself at Hansen. The finish had Jumbo get demolished but get a lucky roll up win. It's been a crazy week, what can I tell you? I should have written this up on Monday. At some point these matches do start to blur a bit if they don't switch them up. High end is high end though.

7/28/89: Takano/Kobashi vs Brunzell/Zenk: Yet another Zenk match which isn't the hidden key heel performance. Ah well. Brunzell and Zenk definitely won this one on points. Kobashi just wasn't quite there yet. It's the little things. He got totally crushed by tandem dropkick offense by two guys who were known for their dropkicks, including a lifting double team, and he comes back and gets the tag. Fine! but he reversed a whip when he should have ducked a clothesline instead. Little things. I liked how proud Takano seemed of Kobashi after they won.

7/22/89: Joe/Dean vs Fuchi/Ogawa: We only get a minute or so of this and it's a shame. Ogawa looks like a doofus not coming into save Fuchi at the end with the kind of weird dropping leg hook armbar. Ah well.

8/19/89: Footloose vs Can-Am Express: Another great match with these guys, one where they switched things up a little at the beginning by having Kawada get hurt (pec? stomach? I don't know). It created an interesting early dynamic where Kroffat wanted to let him off easy and Fuyuki had to fight alone. They came back big however, and the narrative moved on. Even though Can-Ams did control for a good chunk of this, they won it on another roll up. A few too many of those finishes though this was a month after the other tag I saw, so that's probably more on me than them. Just a great rivalry. Someone should really redo the AJPW 80s set as so many of these matches missed the cut relative to some stuff that was just there or novelties.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not doing a good job of getting these up quickly and then I forget things too readily. The first few here are a blur.

8/19/89: Jumbo/Kobashi vs Tenryu/Ogawa: I'm sure someone can come in and tell me when these guys started training, but Ogawa was not ready to be in this spot yet, and I get yes, this spot is sort of a foil to Kobashi in a hierarchy tag. He still wasn't ready. This is the first time in this footage I saw someone blow spots to this level and also then try to repeat them after blowing them, and that was with Jumbo! Of course he planted him on his head in the end. I'd also say that this was the first match, two years into their feud, where the Jumbo vs Tenryu pairing felt just a little old/stale to me. Having the younger guys in there and having Hansen in there at times, does switch things up, but the opening segment where Jumbo and Tenryu really go at it feels like something I've just seen a LOT of at this point.

8/21/89: Jumbo/Kobashi vs Dynamic Dudes: I think it's pretty safe to see one of the two (or three) reason that Ace became such a mainstay in AJPW. He had a decent amount of size, but he's just good in these matches. He knows how much to take. He has solid presence. His stuff looks credible but also has a little bit of flash. The Dudes made a lot of quick tags, the sort you don't usually see in AJPW and were even able to control Jumbo that way. They worked well with Kobashi. Douglas was okay here, but I don't think he did himself any favors by kicking out of a Jumbo pile driver at one. Sheesh.

---

8/21/89: Tenryu/Kawada vs Gordy/Champion: Champion feels like a weird fit here. He looked ok with good energy early but definitely couldn't hang on to Tenryu when it was his turn to control. That's one of the major problems with hierarchy matches. One cool thing about this one was that with no Hansen involved (on either side), the opening stretch was very much about Gordy vs Tenryu in a way we haven't seen as much in these tags. Champion made a good target for Kawada's kicks since he was higher in the hierarchy and I'm a little torn about the clothesline as a finisher here. On the one hand, I would have liked to see Kawada use his chance to score a pinfall to do something bigger but on the other, the fact that he, too, can win a match with a clothesline makes him seem like more of a top guy.

8/29/89: Can-Ams vs Dudes: We lose a few minutes of this. Once again, there was a ridiculous kickout by Douglas, to the point where I was kind of wondering if someone had ribbed him by telling him that was the way to get over in Japan. In general, he looked better though, including a really good exchange with Kroffat. Lots of spots. Lots of flash. Ace paired off well with Furnas including a nice set up for a test of strength that made the Dudes almost feel more like a Hart Foundation style team with a bigger guy and a smaller guy which is not a sense of them I'd gotten in NWA/WCW. In general, the Dudes hit more tag moves and made more quick tags, but the Can-Ams had bigger ones that hit harder. In the end, they sort of took it on a banana peel and everyone hugged post match. Good action like always from Furnas/Kroffat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Douglas, I was watching random bits of a Scott Hall shoot on Youtube the other night and Douglas came up. He said he had heat with him because he'd been talked up as a really talented new guy and Scotty thought he'd have someone good to work with, but instead it turned out he was the shits. Shane was probably lucky Motoka Baba liked big dudes like Ace so he managed to get a handful of paydays there. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8/29/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Tenryu/Kawada: I definitely like the first few SECONDS of these matches where you get things like Tenryu redirecting the knee or Jumbo blocking an early power bomb attempt. The familiarity stuff is great, but it was also great in 88 at this point, so... Kawada's really interesting in August 89. He's credible as a main eventer, can do damage, but he 100% cannot lean on his opponents. He's just too small. Things like power moves and just basic upper body centric holds like front facelocks that the other main eventers can do are just beyond him because of his size. In order to do damage, he has to throw a lot of kicks and yeah, they have impact and hurt like hell but they also leave him more vulnerable to getting caught and tossed across the ring by Yatsu. He needs to create more distance and use running moves which leave him potentially more vulnerable. He needs to rely on things like headscissors, because even something like a cross arm breaker will get him out-powered. It's all pretty compelling. He's an amazing seller, especially for body parts so that adds to these matches as well. Here it was his ribs and that led to some really brutal stuff from Jumbo/Yatsu. The comeback led to some really nasty shots onto Yatsu's skull and there was a minute or two of Tenryu targeting that which were cool. Late in the match, Tenryu sacrificed himself on the apron to save Kawada from a Jumbo knee and that led to a fairly exciting thought slightly inevitable (as Kawada, as good as he is, is just a drag on Tenryu due to the size differential and just how superior Jumbo is) finishing exchange.

I'm eight full months of 89 into this now, plus spatterings of matches from the preceding years. I think I can speak to this style pretty well by now. There's a logic to it but not necessarily a focused narrative. There are the occasional big moments, but rarely do you get what feels like an actual big spot. It's entirely real, what would happen realistically given the characters involved, their attributes, and the rules of the world that they're in. It almost feels mechanical at times because of that. There's almost never a moment that feels artificial. The flip side of that is that there aren't a lot of overt and calculated narratives. A lot of what you see is implicit storytelling instead of explicit. That means that if you're paying attention, you can follow along and you're never put in a position where you have any problem suspending your disbelief. People will surely disagree with me but I feel like a couple of years later, that's thrown away due to the need to constantly one-up themselves and escalation. At the same time, in 1989, they leave so many bits of pro wrestling opportunity at the door. They don't tap into so many tropes that would make what they're doing in the ring mean more. They leave all the tool, and the tricks, and the shortcuts at the door, and I just don't think they have to. I don't think it'd take anything away from what they were doing to lean into a more structured shine/heat/comeback approach, even without definitive faces and heels and just the strong characters they had. Or well, something, or anything more elaborate then what they have. I know they do get there for the most part moving forward but, not utilizing all the tools at their disposal. In a lot of ways they choose escalation of moves instead of escalation of storytelling and while I am on board for this 89 stuff where it's still fairly measured, I have misgivings with what they're doing more often five or six years down the line.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9/2/89 is a really cool card. It also has Jumbo vs Yatsu(!) and a Can-Ams vs Footloose match. Plus a long Baba vs Abby one, I think.

Tenryu vs Gordy: Baby Slinger's out as Gordy's corner man just so Tenryu can power bomb him to start. He pays for it immediately which lets Gordy take most of the start of the match. It seems foolish but Tenryu is the very picture of resilience as Gordy keeps trying and failing to hit mid-match power bombs, and slowly comes back before hitting the doom move of 1989, the uh, front brain kick? which had taken out Jumbo hard in that last tag, and mounts a few bombs for the win. Gordy is a lot of fun to watch as he just throws his massive frame into everything he does. They shake after the match which is probably due to Tenryu's palling around with Hansen.

Kobashi vs Johnny Ace: Again, 89 Ace looks really good. He hits his stuff well, uses his size well, has a tendency of emotionally connecting to the crowd after he hits a big move. They're almost as into him as Kobashi after some of his stuff, which is pretty crazy. This starts with a bit of symmetry and more planned spottiness than you usually see. Some of that might just be the tendency of the smaller guys and over the next few years, the smaller guys more and more take over. Who knows? Very exciting finishing stretch here that almost (almost) went a little too far, which I'm starting to suspect is a Kobashi thing as much as anything else, but it's a very early big of suspicion. I was surprised to see the Ace Crusher was a thing already since I hadn't seen him use it yet, but it was very well established here, setting up a roll out finish and the eventual fall. Good showing from both guys.

Edited by Matt D
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9/2/89: Jumbo vs Yatsu. I braved the 89 PDF observers to figure out why this was happening. It's a #1 contender's match which makes sense. I liked this a lot. It's probably one of my favorite matches in 89 so far even if it could have been just a little more exciting down the stretch. I'm okay with it not being more so, however, because of the way they work it. The opening few minutes is excellent chain wrestling, shades of earlier (pre-Choshu and pre-Tenryu turn) Jumbo, giving it his all on the mat against his best friend who can absolutely hang with him. Then the whole thing turns on a dime. Jumbo presses Yatsu up against the ropes and instead of breaking clean, just elbows him in the face. You sort of knew something like this would happen, but Yatsu always felt more aggressive to me, all things equal, and it just came out of nowhere. The real sense you get, especially after Jumbo basically does it again, is that Jumbo just couldn't help himself anymore. As the 80s had gone on and he had to face bitter aggression, he became a monster himself. He couldn't shut it off. He couldn't contain it. This is just who he was, who he had become, and he couldn't even recognize it anymore. There's a moment as he's punishing Yatsu later that he does the spirited arm raise to get the crowd going, to bask in their admiration and adulation, to connect with them, to fire them up and him up. We've seen it a ton of times. It's an almost bestial and defiant thing and here it was a little horrifying because Yatsu was his friend and his partner and he didn't need to go to this extreme. I've said before that the Jumbo that kicks people in the face, while not often fully unleashed, is the most dynamic and exciting Jumbo and that's the one we got here. It all felt like some sort of ancient gladiatorial rancor and I think the crowd was a little unsure as well. Eventually Yatsu fired back with his usual stuff, the bulldogs and powerslams, and the inner figure four, but he wasn't at all prepared to face the monster that Jumbo Tsuruta had become and the end to this was never in much doubt. If I was Tenryu watching this, or a Tenryu fan, I'd be worried, because if Jumbo would do this to his best friend, what would he do to his worst enemy?

9/2/89: Can-Ams vs Footloose: I never really get tired of this match up though they all start to blend together. The most interesting thing is almost always the animosity between Kroffat and Kawada and that was fully in force at the start. It was interesting just how much outside interference drove this, as almost every transition point came from the partner on the outside barging in during a hold and really outstaying his welcome with a long beating. Otherwise, it was more of the same, with the Can-Ams having bigger double teams and Footloose being super resilient but ultimately slightly outgunned.

4/89: Taue vs Race: Brand new find here! It'll probably go down soon so catch it while you can. Not a lot to say. Race gave a little (less than he would have 8 years earlier but still going over for Taue early) and Taue's stuff looked ok but the cool part was just watching Race suplex the crap out of Taue.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that Jumbo vs Yatsu match existed! Taue vs Race, either. Nice surprises here.

Edit: Harley looks like a mirror-universe Bob Ross in that video. He really mauls Taue, too.

Edited by El Gran Gordi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, El Gran Gordi said:

I had no idea that Jumbo vs Yatsu match existed! Taue vs Race, either. Nice surprises here.

Edit: Harley looks like a mirror-universe Bob Ross in that video. He really mauls Taue, too.

I'm not sure if it's readily on youtube (though I think Ditch has it). Here you go for convenience's sake though.

Spoiler

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/18/2021 at 4:40 AM, Matt D said:

8/29/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Tenryu/Kawada:

I'm eight full months of 89 into this now, plus spatterings of matches from the preceding years. I think I can speak to this style pretty well by now. There's a logic to it but not necessarily a focused narrative. There are the occasional big moments, but rarely do you get what feels like an actual big spot. It's entirely real, what would happen realistically given the characters involved, their attributes, and the rules of the world that they're in. It almost feels mechanical at times because of that. There's almost never a moment that feels artificial. The flip side of that is that there aren't a lot of overt and calculated narratives. A lot of what you see is implicit storytelling instead of explicit. That means that if you're paying attention, you can follow along and you're never put in a position where you have any problem suspending your disbelief. People will surely disagree with me but I feel like a couple of years later, that's thrown away due to the need to constantly one-up themselves and escalation. At the same time, in 1989, they leave so many bits of pro wrestling opportunity at the door. They don't tap into so many tropes that would make what they're doing in the ring mean more. They leave all the tool, and the tricks, and the shortcuts at the door, and I just don't think they have to. I don't think it'd take anything away from what they were doing to lean into a more structured shine/heat/comeback approach, even without definitive faces and heels and just the strong characters they had. Or well, something, or anything more elaborate then what they have. I know they do get there for the most part moving forward but, not utilizing all the tools at their disposal. In a lot of ways they choose escalation of moves instead of escalation of storytelling and while I am on board for this 89 stuff where it's still fairly measured, I have misgivings with what they're doing more often five or six years down the line.

I gave this a watch. It's entirely predictable in terms of its hierarchy, but at the same time I don't think it lacks a narrative or that the storytelling is implicit. The entire reason that the match its predictable is because of the explicit storytelling. Everybody watching knows exactly where Jumbo, Yatsu, Tenryu, and Kawada fall in relation to one another, and since Japan is so fond of the slow burn, there is absolutely no progression whatsoever. The only development in this bout is Jumbo taking out the ref. I don't know how often he's been doing that type of thing in the other matches you've watched, but it's one step closer to the grumpy Jumbo of 1990-92. The problem with the match, to me, is that they ran the match-up again. I don't expect Kawada to grow half a dozen inches just because he's facing Jumbo & Yatsu. Perhaps the Jumbo & Yatsu team have been portrayed as too dominant? What if this were Jumbo/Kobashi vs. Tenryu/Kawada? As far as I'm aware, there is no end game where Tenryu & Kawada pull off the upset against Jumbo & Yatsu. The build is entirely about Jumbo vs. Tenryu and what happens when it's just them one-on-one. Most of the time, the way they treat Kawada is sending a message to Tenryu. The same way the bad guys might rough up Robin to send a message to Batman. That's if you think of Tenryu as the protagonist. I think there are big spots in the match, but they largely revolve around the finish, since the win is so important to Japanese wrestlers. I have a suspicion that Jumbo vs. Misawa is closer to your liking in terms of traditional pro-wrestling. We're just waiting for Jumbo to lose it completely.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ohtani's jacketI think I may have been tossing around some phrases without explaining myself well. I'd argue that they don't go out of their way to tell a story. There aren't a lot of beats or twists or plot points. If you were to write down everything that happened in the match and draw a line through the story, it'd be extremely simple and straightforward. I don't think you could break it down into an act structure or deconstruct it much. A lot of it is what would be logical in the moment for every moment. A meets B and the logical thing happens, and that continues throughout the match. There's not much in the way of artifice or creativity. They don't go out of their way to think of interesting things that would happen. It still draws you in because A and B are both innately interesting and seeing them do their thing is engaging, but it's also wholly mechanical, like a mathematical formula. I'm not sure that explains it any better though.

Anyway, I had to watch a Super Tiger vs Fujiwara match that Loss found one night this week so only two matches and the first was ages ago so these won't be great write ups.

9/2/89: Abby vs Baba: Really enjoyed this. Also can't tell you the first reason why. I should go back through. Baba sold well. His comebacks were good. Abby'd offense looked good and vicious. The elbow still looked good in 89. He also treated Baba with the proper respect at the proper times. They had some fun stuff with an object towards the end. Too much wrestling this week. I don't know what to tell you.

9/15/89 Baba/Fuchi/Rusher Kimura vs Tenryu/Footloose - This was billed on my list as Tenryu/Kawada/Kabuki which would have been a lot weirder. It was a Baba anniversary match, I think, which is why Baba was in there with Revolution. It was very novel, not just seeing Baba against these guys, but a still somewhat mobile Kimura too. The opening Tenryu/Baba exchange felt legendary but was cut off quick as Fuchi, bulldog that he was, ran in with a dropkick. Basic narrative was that either Baba or Tenryu could get the better of the secondary guys but they could hold the advantage otherwise. Just fun to see everyone get a turn with Baba, with Fuchi looking great and a legitimately exciting finishing stretch with a bunch of believable near-falls that were broken up using outside interference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I hate to break it to you guys, but Phil reviewed that Fujiwara match in 2016. 

That actually happens more than you'd think. Sometimes Tom has to tell us that the site already covered something. Sometimes it slips through. Way I see it, if it made one person happy to find and watch the thing, it's all good.

It's tricky doing this three matches a week for two years+.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...