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Matt Watches 1989 AJPW on a Treadmill


Matt D
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10/28/89: Tenryu/Kawada/Fuyuki vs Baba/Kabuki/Nakano:  A lot of what you got out of this fairly random six man was Baba was vs Tenryu, which is to be expected and is welcome but i really wanted to see him against Footloose more. He did piledrive the hell out of Fuyuki if that helps (also he put him in a funny cobra clutch where he just ragdolled his arms around til he had the position he wanted). Nakano was mainly there to get beat up, though he did get to get up and beat on Fuyuki including some stuff on the floor and the transitional shove out of the corner which is really something which should have been protected more and done by no one lower on the card than Kawada. I get the sense that people in the 90s-early 00s didn't appreciate Kabuki but he comes in and has just great strikes again and again. This was fairly action packed and I almost wish they goofed a little more with Baba but you're not going to complain about a match being good, really.

10/28/89: Jumbo/Takano vs Abby/Tiger Jeet Singh: And here's what Jumbo was doing during that card. I was surprised how much I liked Singh here, as he had some interesting entrances into holds and a fairly spry manner to him all around. Takano had some weird offense, most especially kicks, where anything high looked bad and anything lower looked ok. At one point, I think Jumbo tagged himself in just to end the awkwardness of having to watch it. Speaking of strikes, is Abby's throat shot cut off one of the five best cut off moves of all time (Negro Casas' spinning back kick, Fiera's spin high kick, maybe Sangre Chicana's punch. What else?)? It's nice to get some of these 15 minute tag matches interspersed with the 20 and 25 minute ones.

11/17/89: Bulldogs vs Tenryu/Hansen: Just terrible. It's my own fault. I thought there was no way the Bulldogs could have a crappy match with Tenryu and Hansen. I was wrong, so, so wrong. There's two moments in this I liked, first where Dynamite zigged in and out of the ring to get an advantage on Hansen and second when he dodged the Lariat and Hansen went flying through the ropes and the crowd went nuts. Why? Both were Dynamite doing what he should to get/maintain an advantage. The second one was just sad though, because you knew he badly wanted to tap into that crowd fire and do a dive but there was no way his body would let him. The rest of the match was Dynamite doing everything he could to eat up Hansen and Tenryu. It's embarrassing and sad to watch, really. There was no thought given to logic or meaning or hierarchy, nothing about pace or flow. It was all opportunism by Dynamite at every point, just doing anything he could to look tough and be on top. Whenever he was in there, he was taking the match about 90% of the time. It's Tenryu's nature to let that happen more than Hansen but even Hansen didn't have a lot to work with. This is why I don't watch 89 Bulldogs matches. It's a shame too because Davey Boy brings a lot to the table and because, as seen in the Can-Am match, even Dynamite was capable of something good if he decided to get out of his own way for a night. Terrible. As good as Dynamite was in 80-85, he's just miserable to watch for 87 or so on.

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On 3/31/2021 at 4:42 PM, odessasteps said:

I thought there was a no Bulldogs rule

There was but it was Hansen and Tenryu and I'm getting into the RWTL so it's harder to avoid them and I watched them on a suggestion last time and it was ok. More the fool is me.

It's funny, last night I tried to upload (11-19-98) Bulldogs/Kobashi vs Furnas/Kroffat/Fuchi because it had Kobashi and Fuchi and Can-Ams and was a six man and it's in Ditch's list, but it got immediately taken down as a copyright ding so I saw it as a sign. We'll skip that one.

Instead I watched:

11/17/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Abdullah/Singh: Biggest thing that stood out here was Yatsu's selling. He usually charges right in and fights back with fire but given his opponents he was a much more sympathetic and giving seller than usual (which doesn't mean he no-sells usually. It's balanced differently, is all). Gladiator Jumbo is a great hot tag here (and was in the following match too), but Abby did an awesome block of his knee at one point as he charged in. It was like time stopped as he set up the throat shot. Singh was fairly over with the fans chanting with his shots. The ever-present smile is pretty surreal and post match he had some animosity with Abby so I don't know where this is headed. (I mean, I can look it up).

and

11/29/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Furnas/Kroffat: This was a really fun pairing. Can-Ams brought the double teams and frequent interference. There was a glorious moment of Furnas vs Jumbo early until the former messed up his leg on the backflip/charge and they worked it over for a while. You don't want Yatsu coming in when you have a bad leg. Eventually, though, he got a tag and they worked over Yatsu's arm pretty well, controlling the ring and double teaming. This is where we got the super intense Jumbo hot tag where he just crushed everyone. Nice, hot finishing stretch, even though there was always an air of inevitability with Jumbo lurking. With this style, finishing stretches of tags are all about capitalizing on opportunities and Can-Ams just couldn't pull it off.

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11/29/89: Takano/Kabuki vs Footloose: This is handheld so you get to see Kabuki's entrance with the 'chucks and the mist. It's funny they cut that for TV so much. Takano was interesting here as he used a lot of bigger offense than he had against Abdullah. None of those kicks. That size meant that he was able to keep control more but Footlose had the better teamwork and were, generally, meaner. Lots of good spots/moves as this went on, like a Kabuki over the shoulder fall forward bomb or Fuyuki with a seated senton type thing on Takano off the top, then a pretty crazy Kawada German on Takano (but not one he could capitalize on). Eventually, Kabuki got the best of the chaos and set up a Takano second rope knee for the win. It was another interesting pairing here.

Having watched basically the whole year of tags (I'm at the end of November, after all), the style makes very clear sense to me. This is going to sound overly simplistic but it's really not because it's very, very different from a Southern tag, for instance, or from Lucha. It's about advantage in the moment, with a few different decision points and a tag not necessarily meaning a transition. If I had time, I'd make a flow chart, but it'd look sort of like this:

Advantage (initial and in other moments):
- Superior size
- Superior toughness (hierarchy)
- Superior teamwork
- Early mistake
- Control of limb

Tag point (due to one of the following):
- Knocked into corner
- Mistake (single or double team)
- Ducked move/Corner charge
- Caught strike
- Power/Tough into corner.
- Partner interferes enough to allow for a tag

Decision point: Can tagged in partner gain advantage or not?

- Immediate assault vs numerical advantage given hurt partner

If advantage gained, then transition.

If not, another tag point once partner is recovered and back to decision point.

Repeat until Finishing Point

Finishing Point: Can team with advantage do enough damage to one partner to score a pin? Can team with advantage then eliminate or hold off other partner to prevent pin break? Eliminating other partner can have a cost and allow for a mistake/reset/transition/counter from initial partner and the finish to go the other way.

This gets more complex as you get into the 90s.

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Working through the 11/20/89 Handheld.

Momota vs Slinger: Very much a #3 vs #4 Junior contenders match. Slinger seemed to get some slight advantage on the mat early so Momota bullied him until the kicks started flying. This was ok but slight and not the best use of Momota who is a better underdog with a big tope and none of that came into play here.

Nakano vs Okuma: Nakano worked the leg for most of the match. The HH made it so you couldn't see all too well, which was kind of a shame, I guess. Ultimately Okuma came back, forgot about the leg, and ran into a corner sunset flip. I still get the sense that Nakano was better in 89 than his rep would have you believe, but not monumentally so or anything.

Kikuchi vs Eigen: Hey, my first look at Kikuchi and it felt a bit like the first match but with more Eigen headbutts and less Kikuchi comebacks (though he did get to toss Eigen off the top only to look a little lost when Eigen got back up too soon for him to follow up). When Kikuchi did finally fire back, he got tossed off the top himself, taking a nasty bump nasty bump, and ultimately lost with a crab. These lower card matches should end with crabs now and again because they're built to as big moves in the bigger matches given the visual of the struggle of turning a guy over.

So far these have been ok lower card matches but the HH is pretty far away and you lose some of the holds. I expect it to be better with some of the more iconic wrestlers.

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We're going through those on Segunda Caida New Footage Friday slowly. We did Joe vs Inoue last week:
http://segundacaida.blogspot.com/2021/04/new-footage-friday-joe-malenko-inoue.html

MD: We're just starting to see the dividends with this new run of Classics. Previously we just had the last few minutes of this title change and while it was good, it, and other Malenko and Inoue matches from 89, always had me wanting to see the full thing. It didn't disappoint. Both wrestlers were extremely good at chaining one hold or opportunity into another while dealing and adapting with engaged struggle from their opponent. Early on that was Malenko with the arm (including an 89 Crossface), and later, Inoue with the leg. Shortly thereafter, they'd end up tied up a few times, an even match. Malenko had the bridges and the bombs and was so good at chaining a move out of a suplex. Inoue had the somersault senton and even creeping towards 40 could still absolutely go. This had the usual block-and-counter laden finish you'd get on these late 80s AJPW Jr. matches and while it was a finish partially set up to protect Malenko, it still felt like a big moment for Inoue and the fans reacted accordingly.

Also, thanks to you, @El Gran Gordiand @Beech27for going along with me on that flow chart/symbolic categorization post above. It's not the world's hardest code to crack or anything, but as someone who sort of struggled with finding rhyme/reason/narrative for early-mid 80s AJPW tags in the past, it was nice to be able to do that for 89.

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More of the 11/20/89 Handheld.

Inoue/Takagi vs the Nasty Boys: Nasty Boys came out to Janet Jackson and I get the sense that if they had never signed, they might have been really good by the mid 90s. Just a combination of Sags size and leaning-upon-you presence and Knobbs manic energy in beating you up. Inoue got swallowed up early, which was odd to see, but when he did finally come back it was with just a simple, awesome headlock and punch approach. Nasties kept control with eyerakes, which is something you don't really see in AJPW except for from Hansen now and again. When things finally spilled to the floor,the crowd seemed legitimately excited. Eventually, Inoue and Takagi got one last flourish with the somersault sentons and Takagi's spin kick before getting outright squashed by Knobbs and Sags. This felt fresh and I'm excited to see what they can do against some of the AJPW names in the RWTL.

Can-Ams vs Fuyuki/Ogawa: I'd call this a really, really good Fuyuki performance, one where he had to make up for Ogawa's kayfabe shortcomings (which, because so much of the style is hitting guys head on and having to keep control can sort of be shoot shortcomings too). And this is the best I've seen Ogawa too, with some plucky arm control stuff early on and a bit of desperate survival at the end as he was doing anything he could not to fall to Furnas while Fuyuki was recovering (an honest moral victory in my eyes relative to where he's been on the card so far). Like I said though, this was really about Fuyuki unleashed, first on the outside as he swung a table around and then towards the end as he burst in as a hot tag and looked like one of the most credible, most dangerous guys on the entire roster for a couple of minutes. I'm pretty curious about his eventual FMW work because whenever he's put in a situation where he has to be the senior guy in a match (here and in singles matches vs younger/lower guys), he really seems to shine.

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More of the 11/20/89 Handheld.

Taue/Kobashi vs Abby/Tiger Jeet Singh: This was a "bonus" match as it wasn't listed on the card I had. Ambush to start, moments of firing back, but overall this was a slight affair. It's amazing how unmemorable Taue was at this point. I'm looking forward to his evolution as I keep going. This ended up being more of a footnote than anything else. Singh really didn't show me anything after the last performance that I liked.

Takano/Kabuki vs Gordy/Irwin: This got time and was pretty enjoyable actually. Early on, it was frustrating because Irwin came in like a lot of foreigners that just don't get how thoroughly the have to assert themselves, but there was a long period of "heel" control later on that was pretty heated and brutal. Irwin looked a lot better there, though there was a noticeable difference in oomph whenever Gordy was in.. Takano matched up pretty well against Gordy, including the big kicks. The finishing stretch was a little weird with some extraneous Kabuki comebacks (including a nice strike exchange with Irwin) before Gordy came in and crushed him.

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Finishing up the 11/20/89 HH:

Rusher/Baba vs Bulldogs: Yeah, I promised not to watch any more Bulldogs but here we are. I thought this would be fine because it was Baba and everyone sells for Baba, and I was right. Dynamite sells his chops hilariously, Shawn Michaels level oversell, the only thing he really sells all year. Then he gets right back out of the ring. The best stuff here was the Davey Boy vs Kimura headbutt fight (Kimura won), but watching Davey jam Baba on a takedown was pretty good too. Not a ton to see here but it was interesting at least.

Jumbo/Yatsu/Fuchi vs Hansen/Tenryu/Kawada: I think we covered this back on SC in the last year or two. Let me pull up that review from 11/2018:

Quote

MD: This was exactly what one would have expected, a bunch of guys who would continuously bring the unrelenting pressure with ebbs and flows and big shots. I liked how they would work sequences and then grind down to holds before switching partners. I liked how well they contained Hansen early on. Yatsu was a blast to watch as he made sure to sell with every foolish, effective headbutt he threw. I like how when he tried the jumping kick on Tenryu it did absolutely nothing. The Total Elimination spin kick/jumping kick from Kawada/Tenryu, on the other hand, was a thing of beauty. It all escalated into bombs towards the end and that one ever-present kill shot by Hansen. Satisfying as you'd expect.

Yeah, the lack of context is pretty amazing. I didn't say a lot there. I did definitely pick up on headgear Yatsu being an absolute nut with the headbutts. They really assaulted his head too. Nasty stuff. I think things are a little more complicated with trios than the tag formula I posted above. There's just a little more chaos, a little more wildness, a little less need for transitions to be earned. On the other hand, you get even more action, so it's a tradeoff. I would have had no way of noting that Tenryu feels almost like a 1b in trios with Hansen, when he's 1a all other times (even maybe in straight tags with Hansen but they're more equals). I say this a lot as we get new footage, but we are better off having this.

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So.

Guys.

None of you told me what to expect in Baba/Rusher vs Hansen/Tenryu.

You jerks.

I'm going to do something special with it in the next day or two, but in the meantime, if you haven't seen it, go watch it.

 

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Spoiler

GANSO BOMB!!!

Spoiler

How often did Baba do a clean pinfall job?

Also: Holy Moley do Tenryu and Hansen ever lay it in on the old guys. And, oh boy, do those old guys ever sell it! Even better than you think, even without the amazing finish. 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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After watching the match, I reached out to my pal Elliott, who I assume is @elliottpwo, but that's just one post to go off of, so who knows. He was excited as he loved the match (I had no idea), and pointed me to something he did recently for the GME project, where he broke down the match by timestamp. Now, I don't know if he used exactly the same video I did, but i imagine it's going to be similar. Anyway, this is great, as the way I watch these matches don't really work well with note taking (I am literally on a treadmill) and there's a lot to unpack here.

So since he already done the heavy lifting, I am going to paste in his breakdown and respond to points with a "MD:" in front of it. This will be long but I'm not going to spoiler it. Anyone that actually comes into this thread is looking for this sort of content, I imagine.

------------------------

01:26 - 01:32 Tenryu hits Baba the surprise tope of death as Baba & KImura make their way to the ring. Tenryu lands on his feet but stumbles backwards all the way to the guardrail. This stumble by Tenryu makes it clear that even if Baba is slow and decrepit, he's still such a massive human being that diving onto him with an offensive move and hitting it cleanly can still cause you to stumble 15 feet until you fall into the guardrail. Sticking Giant Baba with a tope isn't like hitting Kuniaki Kobayashi with a tope. You're basically running into a wall.

MD: I don't actually think Elliott set this up well enough. Tenryu and Hansen came out to their combo music mix. Baba and Rusher come out slowly with Baba wearing the kimono. There have been a couple of Baba vs modern main eventer matches in 89 and they're usually full of pomp and circumstances. I came in off of the Bulldogs match expecting some fun bumping for Baba and Rusher headbutt comedy and just a crowd-pleaser. The last thing I expected was Tenryu to fly out of the ring like a blur. My job dropped. I was absolutely floored by this. It was a holy shit moment.

01:32 -01:47 Its made clear Baba is DOWN. He's been lying motionless on the ground. Crowd is buzzing and the announcer is freaking out on commentary.

MD: And yes, the crowd is freaked out too. The ringside guys who came with Baba (that included Kobashi and Slinger and probably Taue) as well. Baba's still in the robe and is just down.

01:48 - 01:51 - Ref is trying to get Kimura into the ring so they can start this match because its the main event and they gotta get going.

01:51 - 01:53 Kimura gets in the ring, Tenryu jumps him and the ref rings the bell

01:53 - 02:16 Kimura and Tenryu exchange blows with Kimura having the early advantage. He knows hes alone and has got to make something happen ASAP. He knows hes old and he's slow, but he also knows hes a tough motherfucker and that's really all hes got. He's not gonna be out there dodging and feinting dudes. So he goes right at Tenryu. He grabs him by the head and just starts laying in as many headbutts as he can and nails a bulldog to try and end this shit before he gets himself killed. Crowd is HOT for this opening stuff.

MD: This is spot on, as I posted recently, it's all about advantages and the advantage here is obvious. Kimura is pissed and he's tough, but he's also old and desperate and the next few minutes are all about him trying to survive against the two most dangerous guys in the world. That means just tossing his head at them repeatedly. It's Bill Watts walking tall stuff here.

02:16 - 02:25 One of Kimura's headbutts sends Tenryu into his corner and Hansen tags in. Kimura tries the same strategy with Hansen. He tries to grab him by the head and headbutts him as soon as possible and as much as possible.

02:25 - We get a shot of Baba and he's STILL DOWN. Reminding us of the situation Kimura's in.

02:25 - 02:37 Back in the ring and Kimura reverses and Irish Whip and gets a lariat in on Hansen. Of course lariats are credible big moves in Japan. Its also a simple move anyone can pull off. You don't need to be in your athletic prime to hit someone running at you with a lariat. Hitting Hansen with a lariat has extra meaning of course and the commentator sells it big and the fans pop like crazy.

02:37 - 3:02 Kimura follows up on the lariat by punching Hansen in the face while hes on the ground. But Hansen makes his way to his feet and takes over with a weak boot to the stomach and an eye rake. This far until the match, the weakest looking offense that someone was forced to sell was Kimura selling a weak Hansen boot to the stomach because Hansen has to be put over as tough. Not pointing this out as a criticism, just noting it given the various comments about weak looking offense in this match.

MD: This is responding to some other GME talk. Not everything Hansen throws always looks great, you know. I don't love his running kicks while someone is holding an opponent for him always. That sort of thing. He also goes to the eyerake more than you'd expect and really stands out in AJPW because of that as very few others do it. It's additive though. Not only are you dealing with this hoss, he's also going to rake your eyes to keep the offense.

03:03- 03:37 Tenryu tags in and fucking crushes Kimura with a lariat for a 2 count and follows with some hard chops. Kimura is still trying to fight through the pain and hit his headbutts, but they're coming slower after that lariat. Tenryu is AMAZING at selling Kimura's headbutts here. The crowd starts chanting for Kimura trying to give him some energy, but Tenryu puts him down with an enzugiri and tags back out.

MD: I was waiting for the enzugiri (which I always call a back brain kick because he really does nail people in the back of the head as is the late 80s AJPW style and because I can't spell enzugiri. Enziguri? Enzugiri), because it's Tenryu's major cut off move and I was pretty certain that was going to be the thing to turn the tide. It came at this moment almost like clockwork and you, Hansen, the ref, the seconds at ringside, the crowd, just knew that Kimura was on borrowed time at this point. I think everyone thought that maybe, just maybe, he could last long enough for the legendary Baba to get back up, but this is the moment where it became obvious that he likely wasn't going to be able to.

03:38 - 05:00 Hansen comes in takes over definitively. They go to the outside and Hansen sets up a table and smashes Kimura's head into it. Tenryu comes over and joins in the fun. Hansen rolls back in and out of the ring to break the count and continue beating on Kimura.

MD: The table is a the chaser to the enzugiri. It makes such amazing noises and it's a way to take Kimura's strength (the headbutts) and just shatter it. He's slammed in repeatedly and the noises are gruesome and the visual is gruesome. You might usually see one shot like this, or a table or chair swung about, but not repeated shots over and over. This is the moment I go and check to see where this came in on the 80s list (top 10; I had no idea).

05:00 - 05:02 We get a shot of Giant Baba and he's awake and moving and....rubbing his tummy while his second sprays it with whatever was in those spray cans....and like how can you not be in love with this match already?

MD: They're focused on a specific body part of Baba's which helps justify why one dive could do so much, even if it was a hell of a dive.

05:02 - 05:28 Back in the ring and Hansen is stomping and kneeing Kimura's bloody face into oblivion.

MD: You really don't see blood all that often in 89 AJPW. The Hansen/Tenryu match where Tenryu comes IN bloody to start comes to mind, but other than that, it's just not a huge thing on the year, so this is a big deal.

05:28 - 05:53 Kimura refuses to roll over and he hits some desperation bloody head butts on Hansen in the corner. Tenryu's like "no no no." And just fucking walks right in the ring like he's Dennis Condrey and just starts smashing Kimura in the face.

05:53 - 05:55 Right as Kimura is blasted by a double forearm smash from Tenryu & Hansen, we get another shot of Giant Baba grimacing in pain, gritting his teeth all "OW My Tummy!" as his second rubs his belly ferociously. Like who cares if Rusher Kimura is moving slowly? How many matches have Giant Baba grimacing in pain as someone rubs his belly?

MD: This double forearm is amazing, btw. One of the nastiest shots I've seen from these guys and that's saying a lot.

05:58 - 06:16 Kimura kicks out of a pin attempt and continues to get worked over, including some fucking vicious kicks right in the face from Tenryu...but...BABA RISES! He's being helped to his feet. Still wearing his robe btw. There's hope maybe!

06:16 - 07:18 Tenryu and Hansen continues to just beat the shit out of the bloody Kimura. Their offense is simple but sharp. Lots of chops, a great looking shoulderblock from Hansen, knees that sort of thing.

07:19 - 07:58 Baba has made it to the apron! He's still selling big time. But he's there and he's reaching out and starts doing body twists to try and loosen his gut up. Hansen & Tenryu continue to bring the hurt to Kimura. Its all low tech stuff. Elbow drops, chops, kicks, that sort of thing. This is smart. Kimura can't really bump around all over the place because he's so stiff. But if you're just getting your bloody head bashed in by Tenryu & Hansen, we don't really need german suplexes and powerbombs.

MD: What I'd stress even more is that they were staying on the head for the most part. You can't really do a suplex or power bomb that works a wound. You can kick people to do so though.

07:59 - 08:30 Baba breaks up a pin attempt just by putting his boot on Hansen's head and shoving it aside. Crowd loves this. Baba is still reeling though (hes still clutching his tummy) and Hansen & Tenryu continue the assault.

08:26 - 08:31 I wanted to highlight an awesome little hope spot. Kimura is obviously super limited when he hasn't been beaten to a bloody pulp. So to create a brief hope spot he grabbed Tenryu by the head like he did earlier in the match to try and headbutt him, but Tenryu blocked it by pulling Kimura's hands off his head and then just crushing Kimura with a chop. Its not Ricky Morton getting a surprise 2 count on a sunset flip before Bobby Eaton takes back over, but its a really great little hope spot that the crowd bought on and I wanted to highlight it as another example of smart work from these guys.

08:32- 10:21 Beatdown on bloody Kimura continues. But Baba looks better. Hes moving around a lot more and not keeled over in pain. Hansen & Tenryu are so smart with their offense. Its either focused on his bloody face or something like Tenryu's reverse elbow drop or an enzugiri. Its vicious and looks good but it also doesn't force Kimura to have to bump around. Because he can't do it. Its hard to have an extended heat section with a guy who can't bump, but Hansen & Tenryu figure it out and keep this moving and interesting. It also gets increasingly vicious and brutal as the beatdown on Kimura continues. But Baba is back up. The crowd is really excited by also really anxious. Can Kimura tag out to Baba? Can Baba withstand the onslaught or are they gonna beat his brains in too???

10:22 - 10:30 Tenryu takes a break from beating on Kimura to run over and give Baba a huge chop. Baba sells it big but is back up and waving his little T-Rex arms like "come over here and try that again!" at Tenryu and I'm just dying of joy.

MD: Up until this point, Baba's there and he's able to intervene once, but Kimura HAS to keep on surviving because there's no way Baba's going to make it to the middle of the ring in his current condition (the guy isn't fast to begin with) to break up a pin, so that's an added bit of drama for Kimura. Obviously, the fans don't think it's going to end before Baba can even get in there, but in the moment, the idea of just how Kimura is going to get out of this or find the power to escape a pinfall after almost ten minutes of bloody damage is a very real emotion. As it seems that Baba is starting to recover, Tenryu comes over and blasts him. The hands flailing about are definitely a thing and it's just motion and life and eagerness to get in there and the fans do respond.

10:31 - 10:49 Back to the beatdown on Kimura....but Tenryu makes a mistake. He was getting cocky by chopping Baba and then he whips Kimura into the opposite corner and charges at him...but he gave Kimura space just one brief second of breathing room and Kimura does the one thing he can do. He throws his bloody rock like head forward and Tenryu crashes into it. Kimura blasts him with another bloody head butt and....ROLLS OVER TO THE CORNER TO BABA!"

10:50 - 10:57 Baba is in. He shrugs off Tenryu's first chop. No one should have a problem with this. There have been roughly 5 billion blown off chops in Japanese wrestling history. Giant Baba is literally a Giant of a man running on pure adrenaline. So he shrugs that bitch ass chop off. And immediately blasts Tenryu with 3 quick Baba chops. Does Tenryu sell the chops? Of course. Its a signature spot of the most famous wrestler in the promotion. Crowd pops HUGE for it.

Quick sidebar on Baba's chops. I don't want this to be the only take away from this whole review. But to address it, Baba's chops are awesome. He's a giant man with insanely huge hands. Even if he's hitting you at half speed with those hands, its gonna affect you. Also its a protected signature spot and had been for decades. If you want to talk about business exposing moves that are to be laughed at, I counter with every single Irish Whip that has ever happened in a match. Baba's chops are no more business exposing than everysingle Misawa elbow or Daniel Bryan kick.

MD: Again, 89 AJPW. When a tag is made after an advantage, there's a moment where the team that was in control can still potentially keep it. They get that first shot in often, but someone like Baba, coming in hot, is going to push through it. Tenryu, as opposed to most other people in the promotion (this isn't fair, but it kind of is), as a Terry Funk protege, knows when to really, really give in the moment. Anyway, remember, I just saw Dynamite, who is the least giving guy in the world in 89, sell huge for those chops. I buy it. The crowd does too. It's ridiculous to think anyone wouldn't. I feel bad for Elliott having to counter some of this stuff.

10:57 - 11:47 Baba on fire continues. He follows the 3 chops up with a great big boot. He keeps selling his stomach btw. Hansen runs in after the big boot (crowd is going nuts also btw) and Baba barely manages to get a chop up and its a side chop, not the signature Baba overhand. So Hansen shrugs that first blow off and then sells big for the signature overhand chop. Hansen also takes an Irish Whip and eats a big boot. Hansen bumps for it just like anybody would bump for a big boot from a 6'10 guy with enormous feet. Baba follows up his boot to Hansen by RUNNING (as best Baba can) over to Tenryu to hit more chops. Baba is working as urgently as he can. He's hurt. He knows hes alone. He knows hes against 2 killers. He's gotta move as quick as he can. Baba hits a couple of shitty looking kicks setting up his side russian leg sweep. This is another signature spot hed been doing since the 70s. Its easy to execute and there's zero problem with anyone selling a Giant Baba side russian leg sweep. Crowd pops big for it. Baba CONTINUES to sell the ribs. Hansen breaks up his pin attempt.

Baba sllloooowly lumbers to his feet and literally chases after Hansen. Baba hits a chop that Hansen, literally one of the greatest wrestlers ever, chooses to oversell. Baba turns him around and they get into a chop battle with Baba doing couple of cool targeted chops right at Hansen's face, but Tenryu comes over and suddenly its 2 on 1!

MD: The fans were conditioned at this point to know that now that Baba was back, it was about him lasting long enough for Kimura to recover. They couldn't know that Kimura wouldn't recover and I think they had to have some question about Baba's side, which he was still selling, but at this point, Hansen and Tenryu were NOT really targeting yet, so it was just about the numbers game (with two of the most dangerous guys, yes).

11:47 - 12:11 Crowd starts to get a little nervous because now Tenryu has the advantage, but he makes another mistake. He Irish Whips Baba into the ropes and puts his head down early. Baba stops and blasts him with a kick. Does it move slowly? Yes. But against a foot that size landing at any speed you're gonna notice it. I'm trying not to use the word "Freakish" but Baba had a medical condition. But his hands and feet are literally freakish in size. So when he throws a kick or a big chop even if its moving slowly, his hands and feet are SO big that it doesn't mattter how slow it moves. If he could move faster his chops would cave skulls in. Anyway, Baba follows up his kick with his knee smash, another signature spot that he has used to great affect going back to the 60s. There is zero issue with someone selling a Giant Baba knee smash. We get a shot of Kimura finally laying there on the floor selling as Baba hits another knee smash, this time he didn't hit it as cleanly. And afterwards Baba immediately stumbles over to the corner to try and tag out. Uh oh....Baba's gassed. Not in a Dave Meltzer Scott Keith Workrate He's Blown Up sense. Baba's gassed like this is an old dude who can only bring it for a couple of minutes and thats why he only works tags & 6 man tags now. Everyone knows this. Uh oh. Tenryu is charging. Did we miss our shot?

MD: Up until this point, Baba is doing valiantly, and again, I feel for Elliott as he's defending against what had to be frustrating points from action junkie mouth breathers who don't appreciate Baba and understand the symbolic value he had with the fans at this point (which was so much like 89 Andre, so, so much like it) or what have you. It's a big moment of Baba goint to the corner and Kimura not being there yet.

12:12 - 13:38 Nope! Still alive! Tenryu's charge is met with a desperation side chop Baba got up at the last minute. Tenryu's stumble on the tope earlier showed us that Baba was so massive that just running into him can fuck you up a little. So when Tenryu runs full speed into a Baba chop with those hands, Tenryu sells it and gives Baba an opening. He whips Tenryu into the ropes and plants him with a neck breaker drop. Another signature spot he's been using to beat the biggest names in wrestling for decades. Hansen runs into the break up the 2 count and Baba sells the elbow smash pin breakup big. Hansen then grabs a chair and smashes Baba's injured ribs/tummy with it. Tenryu tries to follow up and whips Baba into the ropes and is gonna go for an Abdominal stretch, but Baba has the size, experience and most importantly the momentum (thanks to Tenryu's Irish whip) to reverse it into his own Ab stretch. Crowd goes nuts, but this gives Hansen the opening to come in and nail Baba with a big knee to the back/ribs to break up the Ab stretch and Baba sells it big. Tenryu starts focusing his shots at Baba's ribs/tummy and Baba keeps trying to fire back with his chops but he's not able to follow up with them as quickly as he was earlier (similar to Rusher's headbutts went from rapid(ish) fire to slower as he was beat down earlier) and unfortunately one chop sends Tenryu all the way back into his corner bringing in Hansen.

MD: Here's where they really start onto the side. Baba only has so many spots where he can keep an advantage when it's 1 on 2, especially against a guy as tough as Tenryu and one so eager to interject himself like Hansen (here's the chair, for instance, but it's also breaking up pins). But it's the gradual selling, first that we saw from Rusher and now that we see from Baba as these titans of the 70s are just slowly chipped away at.

13:39 - 16:04 Hansen immediately goes after the ribs with a shoulder block and some knees to the ribs. BUt he lets up and tries some chest chops. Don't try and chop Baba. Baba fires back with a chop of his own, but his followup is weak and Hansen blows it off and starts kneeing Baba in the ribs again. Baba's really starting to take some punishment but hes so huge he can absorb a lot of blows and still fire back on occasion with some real force but its starting to get one big Baba strike for every 10 that Hansen or Tenryu nail him with. Tenryu & Hansen start trying easy double teams on Baba and body slams to sort of test how fucked up he is. Theres more focus on Baba's ribs now.

MD: Hansen's instincts are amazing (thus the eye rake), and whenever something doesn't work, he's immediately there to try something else (which in this case, is to focus back on the injury). He doesn't plan and he doesn't think, but for a half blind guy, he's able to hone right in on a weakness like no one else.

16:04 - 16:05 Worth noting that one of the worst looking moves in this entire match is the lariat (!!!) that noted bruiser Genichiro Tenryu hits and Baba is forced to sell.

16:06 - 17:34 Weak Tenryu lariat is followed up with Hansen & Tenryu taking turns chopping the shit out of Baba and Tenryu comes off the ropes against presumably for another lariat...but Baba gets his massive foot up and Tenryu absolutely fucking eats it and takes an amazing amazing amazing bump off of it. They get a great nearfall off of it and you can see Baba looks at the corner to see if Rusher is alive and when he realizes hes still alone, Baba follows up with his swinging neck breaker for another big 2 count. Then Baba hits a dropping arm breaker (another spot Baba had been doing forever)! Hansen runs in to break up it up. As Baba looks to the corner again Tenryu manages to tag out. He charges in but Baba his him with another last second desperation chop (like earlier in the match). He follows it up with a big over hand chop and another side chop brings Hansen down. Baba then picks him up and tries for a SMALL PACKAGE! WTF! Hahahah. It gets him a desperate 2 count, but its a mistake because Hansen is able to get up first.

MD: At this point in a normal match, Kimura would probably be recovering and we'd be rolling into a momentum shift. If I know what's happening, the fans do to, so the fact that Kimura is still down, just as how Baba had been down for so long, is meaningful. The numbers game is still in play as Hansen picks his spot coming in after the arm driver. Baba's timing is amazing here. Everyone's is really. There's such a sense of build to these spots and moments, inevitibility at every turn.

17:34 - 19:04 Hansen & Tenryu back in control. They take Baba down with a double shoulderblock and then a double suplex. Baba taking bumps! They take turns viciously kicking a downed Giant Baba. Tenryu makes his way to the corner to go for his big elbow drop but he takes too long and Baba is able to catch him and plant him with a suplex. Tenryu takes a huge Rock taking a Stunner bump for it and we get a great 2 count. This is an awesome example of taking a super pyshically limited worker and figure out how to create a killer move for him. Baba couldn't give Tenryu a great looking back drop suplex from the ground. But give him that head start and he can. Great stuff. But it also works as a way to transition back to Tenryu on offense. With the back drop suplex, Baba is falling down too. Hes old and it takes him forever to get up. With his weakened ribs, Tenryu is able to take back over after the nearfall and get Hansen back in.

MD: Elliott went 2/3rds the way here but not quite far enough. Tenryu's sell off the back suplex was amazing. He was just frozen there with his feet up for a moment. This is NOT a guy who stooges. This is an incredible giving, incredibly willing, incredibly selfless wrestler, one that bumps and feeds for Jumbo all the time, but not one who is ever made to look ridiculous, and here, for a brief, split second in the midst of this hugely dramatic match, he is just frozen there and it's iconic and makes Baba look absolutely amazing desite it all. But it's ok for him to do this because of the fact he maintains control and because of the eventual finish. It just makes it all matter more in the moment and in the end.

19:04 - 19:52 Hansen back in and hes going after the ribs again with chops and knees. Tags out to Tenryu and Hansen whips Tenryu into Baba and Tenryu just nails him with a great looking lariat this time. Then they plant Baba with a spike piledriver! Now, I can see some people complaining about how it looks bad, but I think theres been like 2 spike piledrivers ever that have looked great and the rest range from terrible to ok looking. In the history of spike piledrivers, this one is actually ok.

MD: A spike piledriver on Baba! Come on. Who cares about the execution when the symbolic value is off the charts? And this one is fine anyway, it almost plants more like a DDT but the impact is there and the symbolic meaning is absolutely there. It's a once in a lifetime sort of moment for the crowd. Almost all of the shots by this part of the match (surrounding hte pile driver) are just so mean looking so brutal, and this is a transcendent move to be done on BABA. Often times in AJPW in 89, the spike piledriver is used more to cement a control segment, to stop one person from fighting back, so it's not a finish usually, and here it was a moment of hopelessness for Baba, the beginning of the end if Kimura wasn't about to get right back into it. Elliott having to play defense on this stuff remains frustrating.

19:53 - 20:49 Hansen back in and they do the spot where Baba's on the ground and Hansen & Tenryu take turns dropping elbows on him. This is a simple spot, but its one of my favorite tag team wrestling spots no matter who is doing it. They nail Baba with a double powerbomb. Now people might say this looks shitty and slow compared to most powerbombs. I'd agree but I'd also argue that a lot of Tenryu powerbombs looked shitty so this isn't really unique to this match. Baba kicks out anyway. Amazing spot where Hansen hits the ropes and out of nowhere RUSHER KIMURA IS ALIVE! and he grabs Hansen's foot tripping him up! Kimura climbs up to the apron and Hansen just absolutely crushes him with a lariat! Just destroys him. Its beautiful. Hello Rusher, welcome back, GOODBYE SON!

MD: Shoot, I missed where it came into play in the write-up but there was a cool moment where Hansen came in with an elbow drop bu the targeted the side instead of the head. It was earlier. I just forgot to note it. Anyway, the rapid fire elbow drops is great because it just shows the hopelessness of the situation. The fact that Tenryu managed to power bomb Baba at all was huge. It was a massive moment to the crowd, hugely meaningful. You power bomb a giant and it's going to mean something because the power bomb itself means something and the giant means something. That it took two of them to do it meant something. And yes, the Kimura grab just made the crowd erupt. It seemed like it was the moment where Baba lasted JUST long enough (he survived the power bomb!) and I think the crowd knew that it couldn't end without Kimura doing SOMETHING, and here it is! And then... he just gets crushed by the Lariat and that's it. I'm a little torn on this as for the rest of the match, I still wanted him to do just a little more, but that wasn't the story they were telling. I think if I could write this thing, maybe i would have had him get two-three little moments where it looked like he'd be part of it, but for what they were trying to accomplish, the sheer hopelessness of him getting to do a tiny, small thing, maybe the precursor to something more, maybe the precursor to a full recovery, only to get CRUSHED and all hope to be crushed with him, is better. It's bleaker. It's better. It just feels so out of place for AJPW in 89 which is probably part of why it works.

20:50 - 22:15 Rusher is dead. Tenryu tags in. He hits Baba with an enzugiri. They set Baba up against the ropes and Hansen whips Tenryu towards Baba. Tenryu runs towards Baba and doesn't learn his lesson because he hits the ropes next to Baba, bounces back towards the other side to gain momentum and on the way back absolutely eats another Baba big foot. Hansen charges and Baba ducks out of the way and Hansen goes flying over the ropes! Oh SHiT! Its one on one! Tenryu immediately tries for a powerbomb and Baba flips him over with a backdrop and a 2 count! Oh crap! That was close! But then Tenryu rolls over keeping the waistlock on, picks Baba up to his feet and fucking plants him with a powerbomb and....a 3 COUNT!?!?!? Baba losing by pinfall is a huge deal. Even in a tag match Baba didn't take falls to just anyone. Even at this point in his career. And same thing for Tenryu. Getting a pinfall on Baba was a big deal. He's one of the only people to ever do it.

MD: And despite that, because it's Baba, there's still a moment at the end here after Hansen goes sailing where you think he's going to win anyway. (It's the moment of the reversed power bomb). But he hangs on anyway and just plants him with a second on for the totally logical and built to but also completely unexpected pin. I swear in the post match as Kobashi was tending to Baba, there was a little bit of a smile in his grimace for what they just accomplished.

MD: So that's the match. It works because of the timing. It works because of the stiffness in the back half. It works beacuse of the focus. It works, however, most especially, because how it subverts and plays with exepctations. No one expected Tenryu to dive right at the start. No one expected Baba to stay down for so long. No one expected the repeated shots to the table. No one expected Kimura to take so long to come back. No one expected him to be eliminated so quickly and thoroughly when he did. Baba knew exactly what he had in this scenario. He knew the crowd. He knew his partner. He knew his opponents. Rusher knew how to milk the most out of a little. Tenryu knew exactly what he needed to do to make everything work. Stan Hansen simply is. Period. It all came together to be as much as it possibly could be. I'd probably put it second on the year after the October title match, which just had higher stakes, but both of them are over the June match to me and deciding between them is difficult.

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12 hours ago, Matt D said:

I swear in the post match as Kobashi was tending to Baba, there was a little bit of a smile in his grimace for what they just accomplished.

I absolutely positively saw that too and It really hit me. Here's this guy at the end of his career, total legend self-relegated to the undercard, deciding to get in the ring and have one last great go of it. He still had a decade until he passed from cancer but it looked like if he died tomorrow, he could be happy with that one. 

Another thing about his chops and big boots -- not only are his hands and feet enormous but the man looks like a giant living skeleton. Sometimes those chops are all forearm/wrist. Can you imagine what it feels like to be hit even at half-speed by a human ulna bone? 

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13 hours ago, Matt D said:

MD: I was waiting for the enzugiri (which I always call a back brain kick because he really does nail people in the back of the head as is the late 80s AJPW style and because I can't spell enzugiri. Enziguri? Enzugiri)

Hey, it beats "medullary (as in medulla oblungata) slash", which is the best Kanjitomo could make of it when I was transcribing the Jumbo bio.

From the IWE I've seen this has to be Rusher's best match too. I like the 76 Jumbo match and there's some stuff like the Gypsy Joe cage match from the same year that I enjoyed for what it was, but it's not controversial to say that Kimura was the most limited performer ever put in an extended ace run by a major Japanese promotion. (That can happen to you when a.) your booker and failed ace drives Strong Kobayashi away, and b.) all the new major prospects either get injured - Daigo, Tsurumi - or stolen - Ryuma Go, maybe you could count Umanosuke Ueda too if they'd kept that 76 run going - until Ashura Hara comes along, and by that point it's really too late.) And yet, while I found their 1985-88 singles matches to be the apotheosis of old-man graps, it was alongside Baba here that I saw Kimura the best utilized I ever have.

Edited by KinchStalker
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@GOTNWsuggested this one to me, so I snuck it in:

Bonus match: 10/30/75 Giant Baba vs Kintaro Oki: This was maybe seven minutes, with pomp before and circumstances after. It's absolutely brilliant. Baba came in with a bandage on his head which he made sure everyone knew about without it being overbearing. Oki's weapon was his headbutt and instead of facing Baba directly, he kept swiping at him with it to open. Baba refused to engage, dodging away, "subconsciously" favoring his forehead. Oki pressed the issue by refusing to break clean in the ropes and the corner, going low with his head, turning the crowd and the ref against him. This pisses Baba off and gives Oki exactly what he wants. No longer cautious, Baba rushes in and Oki is able to blast him with headbutts in the center of the ring. This knocks Baba to the floor floor. Oki follows up with a few King of the Mountain headbutts on the apron as Baba started to bleed anew, but eventually Baba made it back in (in part because the ref asserts himself after the match Oki had been wrestling). Baba comes in hot, a monster unleashed, and while Oki has a few shots left in him, he ultimately runs into the neckbreaker drop for a definitive pin with a roar from the crowd. Abby asserts himself post-match going after both guys ultimately, until all the seconds keep everyone apart. They built up the stakes and the scope, increased the tension and the drama, paid it off, and then inverted it for Baba's comeback. Oki did exactly what he had to in order to hurt Baba but hurting Baba isn't killing him and he couldn't withstand a monster unleashed. Every single moment of this mattered.

NOTES:

Spoiler

- The circle close up with the crowd behind for the entrances was a nice effect.
- Baba touches his bandaged forehead wound on the way to the ring, first moment he's on camera.
- Oki's hiroshima robe is nuts. He has a wrestler's ears and gets a good reaction. Baba gets a better one.
- As they stalk each other, Oki goes for the headbutt and Baba jumps away. That immediately gets over the threat, both that he'd go for it instead of a lock up and that Baba, despite his size and stature, was so wary as to dodge back.
- After the third, Baba touches his bandage again, showing why he's so wary. It feels subconscious, like touching your pocket with your wallet in it while you're in a bad part of town.
-Two or three more leap ins and the fans are buzzing. Baba's got his arms out for a lock up, but he can't get close enough, even with his reach, without Oki headbutting him, so  there's anticipation but no contact.
-Oki finally drives him to the corner and there's that moment where everyone wonders if there will be a clean break or if Oki will take the moment of finally having Baba in reach and he does with a headbutt to the gut before breaking.
-They repeat it in the ropes, and this time Baba leaps up to sell the headbutt to the gut, making it look huge.
-They do it a third time, this time in the ropes again, and the worm is turning here: the crowd and the ref are increasingly against Oki, even as he's chipping away at Baba (hand on the stomach to sell), and I think Baba's getting angry, which may or may not be what Oki wants.
-It's exactly what Oki wants! Baba faces him right in the middle of the ring and Oki goes low again, stunning Baba enough to size him up and hit the headbutt to the skull. Baba sells like he's having a seizure. Oki stays on him and hits another headbutt to the skull. Baba bumps through the ropes and the seconds rush to him. The crowd is buzzing. Baba tries to get up and Oki bumps him off the apron with another headbutt. They do it again.
-Baba's bandage is off now and he's selling out of the ring and on the apron. Oki tries again but the ref holds him back, letting Baba into the ring. And Baba is unleashed!
-Oki still has an advantage and tries to press it, but Baba is all over him, even with a headbutt of his own. They build to some motion, with Oki hitting a shoulder block, but Baba is up and wins the next (and final) charging exchange with the neckbreaker drop for the pin.
-With blood running down his face and his hand raised by the ref, he looks down at Oki with disdain.
-Then Abby comes in, is pissed at Oki, headbutts him, and goes after Baba as chaos is unleashed. It does help Oki get an ovation as he leaves. The stakes were high and the fans understand what happens in the heat of battle.

 

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I think Kazuyuki Fujita might be the reincarnation of Kintaro Oki. Hard heads, lots of stalling, and facially there's an alarming similarity. 

Also, Baba's neckbreaker drop is low key one of my favorite moves. It's so simple but so effective. 

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7 hours ago, Matt D said:

@GOTNWsuggested this one to me, so I snuck it in:

Bonus match: 10/30/75 Giant Baba vs Kintaro Oki: This was maybe seven minutes, with pomp before and circumstances after. It's absolutely brilliant. Baba came in with a bandage on his head which he made sure everyone knew about without it being overbearing. Oki's weapon was his headbutt and instead of facing Baba directly, he kept swiping at him with it to open. Baba refused to engage, dodging away, "subconsciously" favoring his forehead. Oki pressed the issue by refusing to break clean in the ropes and the corner, going low with his head, turning the crowd and the ref against him. This pisses Baba off and gives Oki exactly what he wants. No longer cautious, Baba rushes in and Oki is able to blast him with headbutts in the center of the ring. This knocks Baba to the floor floor. Oki follows up with a few King of the Mountain headbutts on the apron as Baba started to bleed anew, but eventually Baba made it back in (in part because the ref asserts himself after the match Oki had been wrestling). Baba comes in hot, a monster unleashed, and while Oki has a few shots left in him, he ultimately runs into the neckbreaker drop for a definitive pin with a roar from the crowd. Abby asserts himself post-match going after both guys ultimately, until all the seconds keep everyone apart. They built up the stakes and the scope, increased the tension and the drama, paid it off, and then inverted it for Baba's comeback. Oki did exactly what he had to in order to hurt Baba but hurting Baba isn't killing him and he couldn't withstand a monster unleashed. Every single moment of this mattered.

 

I was pretty unfair to this match when I tossed off a review as part of my manic quest to add all the 70s-80s AJPW matches on tape to the Cagematch matchguide (which I've been meaning to get back to now that I have a nice stash of new footage - I "finished" 1989 right at the end of last year - but I keep getting tied up in research for posts on my PWO thread). Which is weird because all things considered I'm a pretty big fan of the two Baba/Jumbo vs Oki/Kim Duk 1976 tags. This motivated a rewatch and I'm thankful for that.

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41 minutes ago, KinchStalker said:

keep getting tied up in research for posts on my PWO thread

Keep getting tied up! I had a lot of a better idea who Oki even was because of those. He comes off like the guy with the smug confidence of a coup ringleader here.

Glad you enjoyed it in a rewatch. There's just so much to watch. It's a good problem to have.

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I goofed up and missed a couple of 11/19 matches. I'll get to them ASAP. It means I saw the following out of order and I'm not 100% sure what to make of things as this match isn't on the 80s set but the 11/19 (vs Tenryu/Hansen) match came in #70.

12/4/89: Jumbo/Yatsu vs Bill Irwin/Gordy: I'm pretty big on Irwin, actually. Maybe less on the Long Riders run but I really like him as a promo and presence in early early 80s Memphis and I like him in 90-91 WCW and GWF. He's always someone I like to see pop up because he's a really good lower mid-card guy who can make someone like Sting look great. That said, this is by far the best match I've ever seen him in. As you saw above, I wasn't big on the Takano/Kabuki match but here he was much more assertive, while still being a clear lower member of the hierarchy. His initial exchange with Yatsu was really good with the two of them really going at it. He got it that he needed to keep hitting and tagging and oppressing if he was going to stay on top of even a damaged  (headgear) Yatsu. The initial Gordy vs Jumbo exchange was incredibly fast, very dynamic. Then there was a fun little bit of Jumbo vs Irwin where Bill got to stooge big. Shortly thereafter though, they really started to lean in Yatsu and it was great. He was selling here completely than how he did vs Abby/Singh, by the way, fighting back desperately much more. They kept on targeting the head given the headgear and it was one of the best FIPs I've seen in the footage so far. He had a number of hope spots including headbutting his way out of the corner, but was cut off each time. When Jumbo finally got back in, you kept thinking he'd be able to get over on Irwin but Gordy was always there. He wanted to get Yatsu back in there but managed to do so without him necessarily tagging in (and Yatsu's selling was great here as he was barely keeping up despite how enthusiastic gladiator Jumbo was) and when he was ready, he had a good little burst of revenge. Even so, he'd taken so much damage that Gordy/Irwin had a clear advantage until Gordy missed a shot and went sailing over the ropes. That let them hit a freaking veg-o-matic double axe handle on Irwin (did Bill tell that to do that to him or what?) and ultimately get the backdrop for the pin. Very good stuff.

11/21/89: Hansen/Gordy vs Jumbo/Yatsu: If we can get one match with the new Classics that we haven't had in full before, I think this would be my pick. It's clipped and just 3 minutes towards the end, but what we have here is great. Big bombs, a chair, Yatsu being courageous, Jumbo taking Gordy's head off. Ah well.

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Ok, catch up time. First, in that clipped match from my last post, Hansen did a snap suplex, which is not a thing you would think he would do necessarily. Also, do you guys know about the Yatsu bulldog/Jumbo knee combo? It's one of the best moves ever. Here. The bulldog part isn't quite as good as usual but the knee is even better and I love the camera angle:

Spoiler

71Ng08.gif

Moving on:

11/19/89: Hansen/Tenyru vs Irwin/Gordy: Hard to say if this is overall better than the Jumbo/Yatsu match but the first two minutes were off the chart great. We come in on a bullrope vs bullwhip war that escalates to a wild brawl around ringside and literally the best that Irwin's ever looked. They're just absolutely going at it including fighting over a chair and Irwin taking a massive posting to the skull. Back in the ring, Hansen leaps at Irwin who's trying to do a back elbow and just hangs on and takes him down and it's wild stuff. Right before he hits the bicycle kick Irwin gets an actual chant from the Japanese crowd. Gordy vs Tenryu's not as wild but still super fast and hard hitting. The fans go nuts for the first Gordy vs Hansen exchange. It's amazing the level of control Gordy have over his body for being so big and moving so fast. At one point he puts the breaks on in a corner charge to dodge a Hansen kick so he can just crush him a moment later. This is far more back and forth, though Irwin doesn't win a lot of exchanges. He takes Tenryu's offense (especially the chops but forearms too) as well as anyone I've ever seen. It's just blistering stuff. Eventually, it does settle down to Irwin just trying to contain Hansen which is fine in and of itself but seems a little listless in the context of the match, but the finish heats up again with Gordy diving across the ring to save Irwin repeatedly. The first two minutes of this are as good as any first two minutes of any match I've seen in 89 though, which is saying a lot. 

11/19/89: Baba/Kimura vs Jumbo/Yatsu: Yatsu has stood out recently against unusual opponents by changing his act up. Here he would slap Kimura repeatedly in the ropes only to eat the headbutts and chop upwards at Baba defiantly. This was more of what I had expected out of the Rusher/Baba vs Tenryu/Hansen match. It started out with a Rusher/Baba double headbutt and advantage but quickly settled down to a  back and forth affair with the fans buzzing for interactions. Lots of selling here to make it seem like a battle of the titans, little things like Jumbo selling an arm once he's out of the ring or Baba escaping a sitaution and then ducking out of the ring to sell how close it was. Finish was fun as Rusher got a very close near fall on Jumbo(!) after a Baba legdrop(!) Yatsu broke it up. Rusher had hit a bulldog earlier in the match and he tried again but got shrugged off into a Yatsu dropkick and right into the back drop driver for the pin. Nothing super memorable but a positive engagement with these four.

11/19/89: Can-Ams vs Nasty Boys: We lose some of this to start but still have ten solid minutes. Sags 100% shines here. It starts out with him doing the rope running with Furnas, right into a press slam at his size. Later on he gets frustrated at Knobbs getting out wrestled and just leaps into the ring like a crazy man and beats the crap out of everyone and tires to bring chairs and tables into the mix. Later on, he gets Kroffat on the floor (he wasn't the legal man) and just decimates him with the ring bell and by pulling up the apron which lets them take over for a bit. Knobbs had presence but was less interesting here (bearhugs). Eventually, Kroffat got a hot tag, Furnas hit an awesome power slam on Knobbs, Knobbs hit a not as awesome one on Furnas, and Sags missed the elbow drop to set up a tiger driver for the finish. Pretty fun stuff. Having a different team in there that's relatively young and mostly game.

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12/4/89: Baba/Kimura vs Can-Ams: Hey, see, this is why RWTL is fun. You get a bunch of weirdo match ups that you wouldn't see any other time during the year. This sort of makes me regret I didn't start with the 88 one but I wouldn't have appreciated it. Lots of cool little spots here, Kroffat bumping big for Baba, Kimura playing the coward after Furnas' backflip. Furnas got to slam and dropkick Baba. They got to do the double shoulder block on him too. Kroffat tried to headbutt Rusher in the corner. It didn't go well for him. Sometimes I judge Baba matches by how much fun I think Baba was having and he was having a lot off fun here, as did I.

12/4/89: Hansen/Tenryu vs Nasty Boys: I liked the Knobbs vs Hansen stuff here, but I think I liked it better on paper than in reality. Irwin vs Hansen was better. Can-Ams vs Nasties was better. So it goes. Nasties got real heat by going for the eye rake a ton. The fans didn't like that. It was to the point where Hansen was getting chants. Tenryu was the best at having an abruptly violent comeback strike out of nowhere. Totally believable too. I liked the inevitability of the finishing stretch but this wasn't really much. This was just ok.

Bonus match: One goal for the next five years is to watch every Destroyer match on tape, though I am going to pace myself. I'm lucky enough to be able to begin with some rare footage:

12/10/77 - Destroyer and Texas Red vs Horst Hoffman and Billy Robinson: We get a little less than ten minutes of this and I think it's announced at around 15. Destroyer is great on the apron and when he comes in, it's with a scrappy, rough and tumble energy and a swift but entertaining build and pay-off sort of stooging/giving, but we see a lot more of Texas Red (Bastien) here. He's quite good though, feeding into some interesting stand-up grappling by Hoffman at the start and being a good foil throughout. Robinson actually brings more dynamic motion whenever he's in the ring, which is not a way I usually think of him, but it makes sense as an all-arounder main eventer of the 70s. This goes back and forth with the masked team utilizing more tags but generally getting outwrestled before it picks up towards the end with Robinson ultimately catching Red with a dropkick and his backbreaker. Good stuff.

 

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