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@Matt D

I went looking for Hashimoto vs Kurisu, but could not find it (NJPW are having stuff taken down all over the place). However, this turned up while I was looking:

 

There are certainly "better" Hashimoto matches out there (and better Dustin matches, and so on) but you do get to see Dustin and Hash go at it. Also, this was exactly 28 years ago today, in the Dome but before they called it Wrestle Kingdom. 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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1 minute ago, El Gran Gordi said:

@Matt D

I went looking for Hashimoto vs Kurisu, but could not find it (NJPW are having stuff taken down all over the place). However, this turned up while I was looking:

 

There are certainly "better" Hashimoto matches out there (and better Dustin matches, and so on) but you do get to see Dustin and Hash go at it. Also, this was exactly 28 years ago today, in the Dome but before they called it Wrestle Kingdom. 

 see Dustin and Hash in there together.

Gordi, we had a last second audible, and you're with Nick now, but I'll definitely watch that too, on top of what Morganti gives me since it sounds really interesting and I've never seen it as best as I can tell. Thanks.

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@moribund

 

I wasn't gonna do a Piratenkampf match but I watched a Catch Prix final and couldn't even understand the rules so you get this. Piratenkampf is a chain match with Capture the Flag rules, each guy has a flag on either side and has to grab it. It's an interesting twist, and both guys are really good, so here. I'll watch it and review too. 

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OK @NikoBaltimore

You asked for some "Four Pillars' a short while back. This is the ne plus ultra of Four Pillars matches, a match so great that every true puro nerd knows just what 6/9/95 means. My personal favourite match of all time and the closest thing to a general consensus GOAT match. Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, June 9, 1995!

 

 

Some minimal simplified background since you requested such if I remember correctly:

Misawa (green and white/silver tights) -  is at this point the Ace of AJPW. Kobashi (orange trunks) is his sidekick (no pun intended). Misawa has saved Kobashi from in-match beatdowns at the hands of The Holy Demon Army again and again. The HDA (Kawada (yellow and black tights) & Taue (red trunks)) are vicious and mean, but not exactly heels per se. They are also kind of underdogs. Taue has the longest tenured, but is the bottom man on this particular totem pole. Kawada would very much like to get a win over Misawa, who constantly overshadows and outshines him. Misawa had beaten Taue in the finals of the '95 Champions Carnival tournament, and Taue is still sore about that.

Kenta Kobashi comes into the match whit a taped-up injured knee, and Misawa has a broken orbital bone as a reminder of his last match with Kawada. 

All four guys have a variety of bombs and suplexes and so forth that can end a match, but Misawa's elbows and Tiger suplexes, Kawada's kicks and powerbombs, Taue's choke-slam variations, and Kobashi's chops, lariat, and moonsault are all very well established as go-to weapons.

There's more to it, and it's possible to enjoy this match a lot more if you have watched a lot of what led up to it, but it more than stands on its own. And if it gets you to watch more 90s All Japan you can come back to it with more experienced eyes. I've watched it at least a dozen times and notice new stuff every viewing.

Very much looking forward to hearing your take on it! Don't feel pressured to love it at first sight just because it has such an enormous reputation.

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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Andre Bollet vs Iska Khan.

Spoiler

 

First off, this is 100000000% out of my knowledge or wheelhouse, but its two dudes in the ring, and I have kayfaybed a predator hiding in the crowd at hoodslam so lets get it.

Also, those French catch gifs are fuckin awesome so I am already interested.

The lack of ring music makes things interesting, but Bollet kinda acts like a modern wrestler, and antagonizes the crowd before getting into the ring, threatening to punch fans, kicking at another fan, and generally getting the crowd to hate him.  All before even stepping into the ring.

Speaking on the ring set up, I would love a modern take on it, lots of space on the outside for flippy doos, but close enough for the crowd brawlin.

Bollet flounders on flipping into the ring to the delight of the crowd and Bollet is hot!

The bell hasn't sounded yet but finally Bollet leaps into the ring and we get the intros.  Khan has been less animated this whole time, Bollet doing the bulk of prepping the crowd for the delights they are about to witness.

The ref checks our competitors without them taking off their robes which is ... different I suppose. Bollet appears to be talking shit to literally EVERYONE in and out of the ring.

Khan is barefoot, and in what looks like jaguar print trunks.
We get some exchanges with Bollet getting the better of Khan, until a suplex of sorts of lightly landed with Bollet getting a foot stuck on the rope and clubbed in the mush.

Very hold focused start with Bollet being a dick and using the tights to gain the advantage on a top wrist lock, but Khan returns the favor and pulls the hair and Bollet is apoplectic about it! complaining to the commentary team and ring bell guys before walking into an arm hold!

Khan works the hold before Bollet flips out and kicks Khan in the mush. Bollet bumps big for Khans single leg counters and then bumps bigger for tripping over his own feet and this is the best match of 2021 for me so far (its also the first match I have watched this year, shush)

Test of strength has Bollet in control but Khan gets the advantage and Bollet's body language and facial expressions are #1 and the best and Khan goes to the bald spot again, Bollet gets a headlock takedown and Bollet tickles his way out and reverses! but they are on the apron and its gets broken up.

Bollet hits the double guns  to break a full nelson, then bites the thumb, gets flipped out, back into the full nelson again, Bollet reverses and then gets kicked in the mush by a Khan reversal.  Khan with a taunting bow and Bollet looking like "this motherfucker" while sittin on his ass.

They lock up again and we get a head scissors take over, Khan escapes and bows and Bollet is gettin angry, you can see it in his face.  Test of strength battle.  Khan and Bollet exchanging dominance, ends with Khan trapping Bollet's Arm.  Bollet with some kipping bridge sells before he escapes and tries to get Khan, but Khan is slippery.

Bollet with some ugly nasty mean European Uppercuts (BICEP MEAT!).  Then a backbreaker. Ref is counting Khan down after every Uppercut, admonishing Bollet then Khan with the desperation takedown and leg lock.  Rope breaks seem to only happen if BOTH parties are under the ropes or outside the ring.

Khan is maintaining his position as Bollet squirms and tries to negotiate out, finally escaping with a headlock, then a big overhand chop and euro uppercuts.  Khan is not as overly dramatic in his bumping.

Whipto the ropes, flying headbutt and the turnbuckle breaks! Bollet goes for the battering ram and misses! Khan is house of fire hittin chops and jumping knees, then a nasty throat chop leads to a pinfall!  Bollet's second/corner man is greeeeezin him up, they ring crew works on the turnbuckle. 

Bollet seems angry at himself and others, while also threatening the sneak attack, before the tables are turned and Khan gets him from behind.  The ref breaks it up and we get the start of the second fall with a knuckle lock sequence.  A sleeper from Khan is countered by him getting dumped to the floor, and Khan is hurt,  trying to shake out his left arm.

Bollet with a SLAP then he bars the hurt arm and goes to work.  The interesting thing is how light everything looks in terms of wrestling from now, while being more hurty looking at the same time/

Bollet uses the ropes for leverage and gets admonished. Bollet thinks he won the second fall and pays for it as Khan tees off on the celebrating Bollet ending with him being tossed over the top. Khan follows and they are fighting on the outside, Bollet is in the crowds lap! The ref is counting, Khan is being low key dickish, and Bollet ends up on the floor again!  Bollet is wobbly but hits a dick shot to Khan that the ref misses and both men are in yellow health bars.

Khan hits a strike combo and the ref is counting Bollet in the corner.  Bollet beats the count, then dodges a Khan attempt by fallin to his butt, and Bollet is wobbly and gettin the mollywhopped by Khan as the ref counts.  Khan with more strikes, but the Bollet milks the refs counts to recover in the corner.

Bollet suckers Khan in and gets some rabbit punches to take back over.  Big slam in the corner followed by the battering ram headbutt followed by a French catch powerslam and pin.  and Bollet wins the second fall, and gets a cheap shot in before the start of the third fall.  Someone throws something liquid in the ring and both parties are hot and have "weapons" in hand before order is restored and we start our deciding fall.

The ref wants the fall to start but Bollet again milks the count while his corner man towels him off.  

Third fall starts with Bollet in control with an arm wringer to the mat, then Khan with the Ear Biting! to escape the hold.  Bollet in the corner sneaks another cheap shot in before the ref breaks it up.  Khan with the BLATANT retaliation low shot.  Bollet with the rabbit punches, then against the ropes he jacks with the ref and loses focus on Khan who gets a throat jab to break it up.

Front Chancery, snapmare and Euro Uppercut to Khan, followed up by a back breaker and Bollet just throwing Khan to the outside through the top and middle ropes.  The ref counts, and now its Bollet's turn to be a dick to the man outside. 
Khan gets back in and uses a headlock to start his strikes up again, chops and chops and the crowd loves it.  Bollet is on his tush beggin off.  

Bollet gets the leg and goes to work again, and hits a sneaky elbow to the pubic bone before a slight transition that leads to Bollet hitting some dickish strikes while he has Khan tied up.
The ref is watching close before Khan gets the throat shot to break the hold and go on offense!

Headlock chop combo, then some jump cuts, but then Bollet hits an atomic drop gets the win.  Bollet is a sore winner and chops Khan after the bell!

They are still fighting!

Flowers are used as a weapon! Bollet runs away once he gets the upper hand!  Bollet tries to come back in and gets hit with the Flowers! We're outa time! See you next week!

 

TLDR: I love 2/3 falls matches.  This was interesting.  Less cool slick shit than some of the GIFs you post Matt, but lots of mean nasty dickishness and tropey offence from your foreign face* (since I don't think Bollet could ever be the face of any match he is in, even against other heels)
 

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I think that might be the most easy entry into watching the French footage. Real fun match. 

Now go watch the one where the crowd throws a lit cigarette at the heel. Matt knows which one. 

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It was an easy breezy match to watch.  In some ways the lack of slick shit to rewind and rewatch made it easier to sort of get the structure and story.  (Bollet is a dick, Khan is foreign, they are both dicks but Bollet is king dick damnit)

And much like the match I watched for the last pairing, HEAT is always appreciated.

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On 1/3/2021 at 10:18 PM, El Gran Gordi said:

OK @NikoBaltimore

You asked for some "Four Pillars' a short while back. This is the ne plus ultra of Four Pillars matches, a match so great that every true puro nerd knows just what 6/9/95 means. My personal favourite match of all time and the closest thing to a general consensus GOAT match. Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, June 9, 1995!

 

 

Some minimal simplified background since you requested such if I remember correctly:

Misawa (green and white/silver tights) -  is at this point the Ace of AJPW. Kobashi (orange trunks) is his sidekick (no pun intended). Misawa has saved Kobashi from in-match beatdowns at the hands of The Holy Demon Army again and again. The HDA (Kawada (yellow and black tights) & Taue (red trunks)) are vicious and mean, but not exactly heels per se. They are also kind of underdogs. Taue has the longest tenured, but is the bottom man on this particular totem pole. Kawada would very much like to get a win over Misawa, who constantly overshadows and outshines him. Misawa had beaten Taue in the finals of the '95 Champions Carnival tournament, and Taue is still sore about that.

Kenta Kobashi comes into the match whit a taped-up injured knee, and Misawa has a broken orbital bone as a reminder of his last match with Kawada. 

All four guys have a variety of bombs and suplexes and so forth that can end a match, but Misawa's elbows and Tiger suplexes, Kawada's kicks and powerbombs, Taue's choke-slam variations, and Kobashi's chops, lariat, and moonsault are all very well established as go-to weapons.

There's more to it, and it's possible to enjoy this match a lot more if you have watched a lot of what led up to it, but it more than stands on its own. And if it gets you to watch more 90s All Japan you can come back to it with more experienced eyes. I've watched it at least a dozen times and notice new stuff every viewing.

Very much looking forward to hearing your take on it! Don't feel pressured to love it at first sight just because it has such an enormous reputation.

 

Dude, thank you so much.  I am definitely looking forward to this as I recognize how much of a blind spot the Four Pillars stuff is for me.  Yet I oddly remember that date due to many of you referencing that.

Now I had to think about this concerning you've seen tons of great stuff and I wasn't sure if recommending something from Japan was ideal considering you may have seen it before.  But I'm gonna slide this into your pre-70s blindspot and it's a rather historic one.  Heck, for all I know you may have seen it so my apologies if true.  But I picked for you Rikidozan against Freddie Blassie.  This was a match that when getting into wrestling history was one I always heard about but never saw (will be fixing that today)  But considering Blassie sharpening his teeth leading to people dying and the historic number that watched it I figured it was worth a watch.

 

Edited by NikoBaltimore
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3 minutes ago, El Gran Gordi said:

@NikoBaltimore

Legendary match. Here is, of all people, "Diamond" David Lee Roth telling a great story about it:

 

 

Man, every time somebody shows a video of DLR talking wrestling I think "Wait, he's a wrestling fan?  Of course he is."  It's like it keeps slipping away from my memory for some reason.  But if you prefer I can see to find something else.

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On 1/3/2021 at 10:03 PM, El Gran Gordi said:

@Matt D

I went looking for Hashimoto vs Kurisu, but could not find it (NJPW are having stuff taken down all over the place). However, this turned up while I was looking:

 

There are certainly "better" Hashimoto matches out there (and better Dustin matches, and so on) but you do get to see Dustin and Hash go at it. Also, this was exactly 28 years ago today, in the Dome but before they called it Wrestle Kingdom. 

I'm fortunate to have two matches this week. Here's my first. I have things to say about it.

Wrestling, at its best, is about creating meaning. Good wrestling almost always has build and payoff. This is more important than any sort of execution or elaborate spots or anything else. In that regard, this is probably the best I've ever seen Norton look. I've seem some Flapjack Norton, some Jurassic Powers, some Fire and Ice, some Vicious and Delicious, but he was exactly what he should have been here. Not some sort of workrate king but a solid monster with great presence who created meaning and, in the first few minutes of the match, laid down the foundation for the payoff to come later. Hashimoto comes out kicking and Norton just absorbs the blows. This has meaning instantly because of the fans' preconceived notions of Hashimoto's power (and his power relative to those around him as he was a large dude relatively). Norton casually, with bluster, absorbs a couple, which immediately gets him over as a monster, and then ducks the spinning wheel kick, which is, of course, bullshit, because if he's so tough, he should take it. When he does start to take some offense, he staggers but doesn't fall. This sets up, later on, when Saito, who is older but obviously respected and revered by the crowd, ducks a clothesline and hits two Saito Suplexes to a big pop, getting Norton off his feet. It also sets up Saito successfully chopping Norton late in the match. He had stood up to Hashimoto's kicks so it means something that Saito is staggering him by hitting him in basically the same spot. It ALSO sets up Dustin getting absolutely floored by Hashimoto's kicks late in the match, including eating the spinning wheel kick that Norton had ducked, which certainly helps justify the finish since that was such a big move that Norton had chosen not to take it right at the beginning. Look at how much mileage they got out of that!

Dustin's the biggest problem about this one. I'm not really sure what his role is. It's clear with the other three. The most compelling stuff with him is not against Hash but against Saito, and relatively early on at that, their first exchange, since it has Dustin charging in and attacking over the top (using his height) with bionic elbows, with Saito, extremely well-experienced from 1978 Florida, feeding for him. After that, Dustin controls at times and throws himself into Saito or Hashimoto, but he's miscast here in a way that reminds me of young babyface Americans who came over to AJPW in the 80s and teamed with a more seasoned heel and just sort of wrestled. That doesn't mean he didn't take Hashimoto's offense really well, including lawn darting into the ramp shoulder first and twisting all sorts of wrong on the final jumping DDT. That should have been the finish as they went around once more due to Norton breaking up the pin but sort of unnecessarily. It ended with a less impressive move. He's fine here, good even, just miscast.

I left this one wanting to know what would happen if Hashimoto DID hit the spin kick on Norton and what would happen if Saito and Dustin hadn't been there, so I'm pretty sure the match did its job.

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Sorry all. Off and on busy and all over the place. Planning on enjoying your match from last week at the end of this one @El Gran Gordi!

@Smelly McUgly, I’m gonna toss you this one. Let me know if you’ve already watched it and I’ll switch it:

Brodie Lee vs Claudio 

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@Six String Orchestra For your consideration: Bernie Wright vs Steve Casey (in 2 parts)

Bernie Wright being the brother of Steve and the Uncle of Alex Wright.

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Board is being a bit wonky so I won't quote the video, but Morganti gave me Team Uppercut (Dave Taylor, American Dragon, Claudio) vs The Roughnecks (Eddie Kingston, Brodie Lee, Grizzly Redwood) from KOT 09. The wrestling I can fit into a week is fairly limited and it gets worse, not better when I'm on vacation, so being off the last couple of weeks meant that I missed Segunda Caida's immediate Brodie tribute, so I'm glad to have a match here to talk about. Let's talk abut Brodie first, then a few other things.

When you look at Brodie during this stage of his career, you can barely see what he would become. That's a testament to him. He was sort of a noisy, cocky, towering bully here, someone with smartalec undertones, a heavy that you want to see get his comeuppance but that whatever hero you're rooting for probably needs three training montages under his belt to defeat. He moves with an abruptness, an unpredictability, a sense of danger that's not otherwordly but familiar. It's the bully you walk past on the school yard or the guy you cross the street to avoid, that knows it, that makes you feel small for doing it. What I'm saying is that it's a wildly different character than Luke Harper, but just as believable, in many ways more real and accessible, more complex, but not nearly as all-encompassing. You look at Brodie here and he could have become Diesel as easily as Harper. You look at him here and it makes his AEW character feel like a natural evolution and made you wonder where he'd be in another five years.

You can't think about a match in a vacuum. This isn't some bs that you can't judge a match unless you were in the crowd for it or watched it in the moment or you can't go back and rate things or rank things because the wrestlers weren't working for you today but for the crowd they were in front of. That's all ridiculous. You should, however, keep context in mind. This match had some heavy context that caused a few things I'd consider to be structural issues. 1. It was Bryan Danielson's CHIKARA debut, long awaited. 2. As part of KOT, it was part of a show of trios matches and there was a need to change up the structure from match to match to avoid everything being the same. These two things meant that you couldn't quite get to the path of least resistance. Ideally in a match like this you'd want clear pairings to start. Claudio vs Brodie (as they had feuded) for instance, Kingston vs Danielson, etc. Danielson worked most of the match however, both the shine and the heat, with Claudio and Taylor basically coming in for spots/setpieces. The fans wanted as much of Danielson as they could get. Other matches almost certainly had a stronger pairings structure. So it goes.

While everyone was good working to their characters here, including Redwood who, tiny, was strong at having that bluster and utilizing offense that really did chop down his larger opponents (and it was great to see Danielson tower over someone since we rarely get to see that). Taylor is a great charismatic face, though I imagine no one in the crowd had any reason to know that in 09. It was a lot harder to find random German footage on youtube then. Claudio was always given the room to be more charismatic than Cesaro is. That said, Danielson and Kingston stood out. Brodie was a great, engaged, committed wrestler here. Taylor was unquestionably an excellent pro wrestler doing pro wrestling things here. These guys did exactly what you'd want them to. They were part of the act. Kingston and Danielson were something more. It's the rarest thing in wrestling, I think, a sort of comfort level in the ring where you can act and react without wrestling, where everything feels natural and smooth. I liken it to being able to breathe underwater. The best wrestlers are amazing swimmers. Certain guys transcend that. Lawler is the best example, where he's so comfortable and so confident in the ring that he can break from normal spots and just interact however he wants, where it stops being a mechanical exercise and evolves into something he can jump in and out of at will. I think we see that out of both Danielson and Kingston here. Danielson is able to have so much fun, give the fans so many fun things, but always be a second away from diving back into the wrestling.

Other thoughts:

  • Dave Taylor's uppercut was so much better than Claudio's and Danielson's that it almost killed the gimmick right there.
  • Obviously the 100 rotation swing was amazing and to see Claudio just struggle so hard for the last ten or so was incredibly endearing.
  • The Taylor top rope stuff was fun. The blinded Danielson armdragging his partners was fun. I think in a match where Taylor and Claudio got to do more it would have worked better. As it was, it was most of what they did, these set pieces.
  • Legwork on Danielson was good as was his selling, including post match. You almost always want more heat in a 20 minute match but this was exceptional for a lot of the reasons i mentioned.

Thanks for the pick.

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On 1/5/2021 at 9:53 PM, NikoBaltimore said:

 

Now I had to think about this concerning you've seen tons of great stuff and I wasn't sure if recommending something from Japan was ideal considering you may have seen it before.  But I'm gonna slide this into your pre-70s blindspot and it's a rather historic one.  Heck, for all I know you may have seen it so my apologies if true.  But I picked for you Rikidozan against Freddie Blassie.  This was a match that when getting into wrestling history was one I always heard about but never saw (will be fixing that today)  But considering Blassie sharpening his teeth leading to people dying and the historic number that watched it I figured it was worth a watch.

 

I think that this is, like, the 6th Rikidozan match I have seen. 

There was a Rikidozan vs Kowalski match posted in the Clubbering thread, and I loved that one. They just beat the crap out of each other. Then there was the Rikidozan vs Destroyer match that you got in the March version of this project, which was great because all Destroyer matches are great. The ones I don't remember so well are very long matches vs Lou Thesz and vs Don Leo Jonathan. I watched those, on video (maybe DVD), years and years ago and what I mainly remember is marking out at seeing the legendary Thesz my childhood favourite Don Leo. There was also another Blassie match, the first of their series, which was fought in America and which I remember mainly for a guy in the crowd yelling at the ref that Blassie was biting Rikidozan. I thought that was cool, both because the fan was really irate and because the guy hated Blassie more than he hated the foreigner. The third match in their series was reportedly a bloodbath. I have never seen it. I don't know if footage is available. 

This might be my least favourite out of all of the Rikidozan matches I've seen, but that's kind of like saying the lemon popsicles are my least favourite in the box. I still enjoy them. Wouldn't mind a lemon popsicle right now.

They do a little grappling (like, very very little) at the start and near the end of the match. I almost wish they hadn't. Mat work is not Rikidozan's strong point, but more than that I kinda wish this had been nothing but Blassie choking and biting and Rikidozan throwing chops.

It very nearly is.

Blassie wins the first fall with a neckbreaker. Rikidozan gets a big highspot in the second fall with a bodyslam, but gets the pin off of whipping Blassie into the ropes and and catching him with a chop on the way back. Disappointingly, the third and deciding fall is not a chop. Rikidozan headbutts Blassie in the gut while climbing back into the ring, then covers him.

Otherwise, though, it's about 90% Blassie chocking and biting and Rikidozan doing "karate" chops. 

The storytelling is damned interesting. Rikidozan is such a good guy that he always breaks clean and always listens to the ref, and Blassie takes full advantage of that, constantly going to the ropes and then throwing cheap shots off the break. He never, ever stops trying to choke and/or bite our hero. Eventually, special referee Arnold Skaaland (!!) just starts pulling Blassie off of Rikidozan by the hair. And eventually Rikidozan has enough and throws a big chop while Blassie is in the corner... and the crowd LOVES IT!

Blassie sells every chop like death. And he sells every blow to the gut even harder which sets up the finish nicely. Rikidozan bleeds, but not too much.

According to Cagematch, this actually went over 50 minutes (take that, Ibushi and Jay)!  The video gives us near enough half of that. They "disguise" the cuts by showing members of the audience in close-up. Everyone they show is really interesting to me, particularly the guy with the massive overbite, the handsome athletic-looking young man, and the attractive woman in the black dress who is demurely losing her shit. All the men seated at ringside are wearing suits. Some of them have hats on.

This is the third match I've been given in this project (including the two Andre 6-mans) where the in-ring work is extremely minimalist and the storytelling is all based around making the fans wait and wait and wait to see the bad guy(s) get what's coming.

I've been watching a lot of current NJPW and AEW recently, an absolute all you can eat buffet of maximalist professional wrestling, so these matches are like having a nice lemon popsicle as a palate cleanser. 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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6 minutes ago, El Gran Gordi said:

I think that this is, like, the 6th Rikidozan match I have seen. 

There was a Rikidozan vs Kowalski match posted in the Clubbering thread, and I loved that one. They just beat the crap out of each other. Then there was the Rikidozan vs Destroyer match that you got in the March version of this project, which was great because all Destroyer matches are great. The ones I don't remember so well are very long matches vs Lou Thesz and vs Don Leo Jonathan. I watched those, on video (maybe DVD), years and years ago and what I mainly remember is marking out at seeing the legendary Thesz my childhood favourite Don Leo. There was also another Blassie match, the first of their series, which was fought in America and which I remember mainly for a guy in the crowd yelling at the ref that Blassie was biting Rikidozan. I thought that was cool, both because the fan was really irate and because the guy hated Blassie more than he hated the foreigner. The third match in their series was reportedly a bloodbath. I have never seen it. I don't know if footage is available. 

This might be my least favourite out of all of the Rikidozan matches I've seen, but that's kind of like saying the lemon popsicles are my least favourite in the box. I still enjoy them. Wouldn't mind a lemon popsicle right now.

They do a little grappling (like, very very little) at the start and near the end of the match. I almost wish they hadn't. Mat work is not Rikidozan's strong point, but more than that I kinda wish this had been nothing but Blassie choking and biting and Rikidozan throwing chops.

It very nearly is.

Blassie wins the first fall with a neckbreaker. Rikidozan gets a big highspot in the second fall with a bodyslam, but gets the pin off of whipping Blassie into the ropes and and catching him with a chop on the way back. Disappointingly, the third and deciding fall is not a chop. Rikidozan headbutts Blassie in the gut while climbing back into the ring, then covers him.

Otherwise, though, it's about 90% Blassie chocking and biting and Rikidozan doing "karate" chops. 

The storytelling is damned interesting. Rikidozan is such a good guy that he always breaks clean and always listens to the ref, and Blassie takes full advantage of that, constantly going to the ropes and then throwing cheap shots off the break. He never, ever stops trying to choke and/or bite our hero. Eventually, special referee Arnold Skaaland (!!) just starts pulling Blassie off of Rikidozan by the hair. And eventually Rikidozan has enough and throws a big chop while Blassie is in the corner... and the crowd LOVES IT!

Blassie sells every chop like death. And he sells every blow to the gut even harder which sets up the finish nicely. Rikidozan bleeds, but not too much.

According to Cagematch, this actually went over 50 minutes (take that, Ibushi and Jay)!  The video gives us near enough half of that. They "disguise" the cuts by showing members of the audience in close-up. Everyone they show is really interesting to me, particularly the guy with the massive overbite, the handsome athletic-looking young man, and the attractive woman in the black dress who is demurely losing her shit. All the men seated at ringside are wearing suits. Some of them have hats on.

This is the third match I've been given in this project (including the two Andre 6-mans) where the in-ring work is extremely minimalist and the storytelling is all based around making the fans wait and wait and wait to see the bad guy(s) get what's coming.

I've been watching a lot of current NJPW and AEW recently, an absolute all you can eat buffet of maximalist professional wrestling, so these matches are like having a nice lemon popsicle as a palate cleanser. 

Hey, nothing wrong with a palate cleanser.  Or a lemon popsicle which now thanks to you I kind of want.

And I had a feeling watching this it would be this type of match.  Blassie seemed like a pretty good heel for his time and it's amazing to think how effective he was.  I mean can you imagine somebody sharpening their "fangs" nowadays causing people to die seeing that?  Once you get to that point with the hype they can do practically nothing and people would still eat it up.  So I would say it was a success.  I still am not a big fan of Rikidozan but with the right opponent he's fine.

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Midnight Express/Dr. Death Williams vs. Samoan Swat Team/Samoan Savage, NWA Halloween Havoc 1989

Bruno is the enforcer for this one to keep everyone at bay. Gotta love Bruno's thick accent sounding like he says "this match will be fucked to the bitter end" haha. Humperdink is in his full flourish here, about the size of a baby whale. Samoan Savage is Tama/Tonga Kid if you didn't know as I did not either. JR of course starts off with Doc's football stats. Boy does Bobby have a good right hand. 

TEN HOURS LATER...

Okay, let's try this again. 

Hey, guess who else had a fucking great jab? Steve Williams. When get da bruddahs flustered, it's a problem. And they keep getting flustered with each member scurrying back on their knees to their corner for advise and respite each time they get knocked down. It's not only strange seeing them in peril but also seeing Midnights as faces (maybe I shouldn't wonder since they're in Philly). Then Tama basically gelds Bobby in the corner... ooof. He also takes a nasty hiptoss outside that splats him on the concrete. Bob Caudle is great putting over the psychology of facing the right corner. Finally he gets the hot tag... and things just go to shit? Stan seems to miss everything. Everyone powders to brawl. Corny gets a shot in on Hump to a big pop, but gets knocked off the apron. The bell rings? And then there's a pin and the bell rings again? Okay. Well, that was disappointing, but the day has gone worse than that, so I'll give it a bump. Not bad for the majority and I'd like to see the rematch, or a similar match between the teams.

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Ooooohhh, I get it now, Bruno was gonna be the enforcer for Thundercage, not that match. Nevermind. 

I was also literally watching the match and writing that right when the Capitol Riot started to pop off. 

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On 1/3/2021 at 10:18 PM, El Gran Gordi said:

OK @NikoBaltimore

You asked for some "Four Pillars' a short while back. This is the ne plus ultra of Four Pillars matches, a match so great that every true puro nerd knows just what 6/9/95 means. My personal favourite match of all time and the closest thing to a general consensus GOAT match. Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, June 9, 1995!

 

 

Some minimal simplified background since you requested such if I remember correctly:

Misawa (green and white/silver tights) -  is at this point the Ace of AJPW. Kobashi (orange trunks) is his sidekick (no pun intended). Misawa has saved Kobashi from in-match beatdowns at the hands of The Holy Demon Army again and again. The HDA (Kawada (yellow and black tights) & Taue (red trunks)) are vicious and mean, but not exactly heels per se. They are also kind of underdogs. Taue has the longest tenured, but is the bottom man on this particular totem pole. Kawada would very much like to get a win over Misawa, who constantly overshadows and outshines him. Misawa had beaten Taue in the finals of the '95 Champions Carnival tournament, and Taue is still sore about that.

Kenta Kobashi comes into the match whit a taped-up injured knee, and Misawa has a broken orbital bone as a reminder of his last match with Kawada. 

All four guys have a variety of bombs and suplexes and so forth that can end a match, but Misawa's elbows and Tiger suplexes, Kawada's kicks and powerbombs, Taue's choke-slam variations, and Kobashi's chops, lariat, and moonsault are all very well established as go-to weapons.

There's more to it, and it's possible to enjoy this match a lot more if you have watched a lot of what led up to it, but it more than stands on its own. And if it gets you to watch more 90s All Japan you can come back to it with more experienced eyes. I've watched it at least a dozen times and notice new stuff every viewing.

Very much looking forward to hearing your take on it! Don't feel pressured to love it at first sight just because it has such an enormous reputation.

 

After watching this I feel like I crossed off a wrestling bucket list item I didn't know I needed.  And that was to watch this match.  And am I glad this went 40+ minutes as I needed it this morning for my bike ride.  Heck, considering my last workout I was watching WK15 I might as well consider a topic like like "Nikobaltimore watches puro for the first time on a stationary bike"  Or maybe not as there's tons of great topics on here already.

So to describe the match in the most boring way possible it's four men chopping, elbowing and kicking the fuck out of each other for a lot of the match.  But of course there's tons more to that.  The thing that people get hung up on with Japanese wrestling is they feel the language barrier hinders their chances of enjoying a match.  Well this match tell a story that is universal and it's just delightful.  The clubberin' for 13 minutes, the heeling from Taue/Kawada and working on Kobashi's leg, and then Misawa saving his all were all just so well done.  From there it just builds and builds to the point where they throw all the bombs they have to to achieve victory.  And pin attempts aren't an option for at least over a half hour but when they occur you bit on damn near every near fall.  It took quite a bit of MDK moves to finally take out the great Misawa and everything about that felt so well-earned.  So I get especially in the finishing stretch why Kawada/Taue aren't quite heels.  But man were they some surly motherfuckers.

As for the individual people I already know about the greatness of Kobashi.  First match of his I saw was against Joe (which I so need to watch again)  And while I haven't seeked his stuff out that much when I do see him it's been a treat.  Taue I haven't seen before and to be honest he very much felt to me "Here's three awesome dudes.  And Taue's there too!"  I dig the chokeslam variations he did but unfortunately I didn't get much else.  And then there's Kawada.  I remember reading about him in PWI back then and he just looked like a badass motherfucker with killer kicks.  Heck, I had fun making CAWs of him in Fire Pro thanks for formulas people created and just kicking fools all day.  And that was before I saw any of his actual matches.  So this match made me want to do a further dive into some of his best stuff for sure.

As for Misawa I've seen some matches of his recently.  There's no doubt that for the longest time he was in God-tier mode and I see what made him so special.  But unfortunately there were two times where he was dropped on his head and it kind of took me out of the match for a bit each time.  It's one of the reasons why while I appreciate what he's done I'm weary about checking out his matches due to his death.  Luckily this was the only downer of the match.  But to go with what you mentioned I did like the dynamic of Kobashi as his sidekick and the times where Misawa would have to save him.

So the tl;dr of it all is that this is every bit the legendary match that it's been known for.  I feel like at some point I'll watch this again since i saw this on my phone and would rather watch it on TV.  But the biggest takeaway I got is I need some more Kawada in my life.  Those kicks were scarily accurate and I could go for more of that in my life.  Shit, no wonder Eddie Kingston is such a huge fan of his.  Anyway, thanks very much for the pick and I hope this review is worthy of the match that you picked.

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@NikoBaltimore

Yeah, for sure knowing what happens to Misawa in the end can make watching his matches hard to take. If I get the itch to watch some Four Pillars these days I tend to stick to 1993 and earlier. That's when they relied more on stiffness and storytelling, generally, and it's mostly  pre-headdrop era. There are some great matches from '97 and '98 that I simply might never be able to watch again.

For me, the dramatic high point of 6/9/95 is when Kobashi sacrifices himself to save Kawada from a beat-down. That's probably something that stands out a lot more once you've seen the years of fighting that preceded this match.

If you do get the itch to watch more, I'd suggest going with the Misawa & friends vs Jumbo and friends 6-man tags from 1991 through 1993, almost all of which are great. More clubbering, storytelling and guys filling a role, fewer crazed high spots. Maybe the best starting spot would be the Misawa vs Jumbo matches from 1990, in which Misawa more or less makes the jump from young boy to legit top rival.

Also, it might be fun for you to scroll through @Matt D's '89 All Japan thread to get some more background and find some earlier matches to check out.

That was a really good review. I am truly glad you liked it so much.

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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On 1/3/2021 at 7:14 PM, Curt McGirt said:

@moribund

 

I wasn't gonna do a Piratenkampf match but I watched a Catch Prix final and couldn't even understand the rules so you get this. Piratenkampf is a chain match with Capture the Flag rules, each guy has a flag on either side and has to grab it. It's an interesting twist, and both guys are really good, so here. I'll watch it and review too. 

Thanks @Curt McGirt. This was really, really enjoyable.

The Piratenkampf stipulation is fantastic. I love the way these guys work the tension spots as they try and grab the flag in the middle and close of the match. This ended up making me think repeatedly about a ladder match rather than a chain/strap match. With the flags in elevated positions and the wrestlers joined at the wrist the chain becomes the limiting factor on victory. Have they worked over their opponent enough to make the climb? I thought this worked so much better than most ladder matches where people make the sloooooow climb up the ladder: The chain being relatively short gives the wrestlers a built-in way to slow down their opponent, even if they are otherwise just short of being dead weight. Much better than that are the showy ways they use to try and get each other back to the mat, I thought they were great.

Vicious arm work? Check. Do most things look hurty? Check. Do the wrestlers get good crowd reactions? YES. All in all this last was the thing I ended up most impressed with. South and van Buyten knew their audience like the back of their hands, and led them just where they wanted to take them. Beautiful. The only drawback to the whole thing is the single camera, but I'll take a flawed recording of this stuff with a smile.

I do want to apologize for my choice being more of a dud - like, I know it was badly flawed and Stan Lane would just completely botch the whole end of the match, but I was in the thrall of Bobby Eaton (that hiptoss on the concrete was when I decided to make that my offering this week) and thought you might end up enjoying it for much the same reason. 

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Ok, I think we have a bunch of week 3 doubles this time around, but that's where we are. You all know each other better or what not, so have it. People still seem into it so we'll plan to go for a couple more weeks at least. 

NikoBaltimore
moribund

Smelly McUgly
Curt McGirt

AxB
Octopus

El Gran Gordi
Morganti

Six String Orchestra
Matt D

@Six String Orchestra, I'll get you something today ideally. I got my eye on you after last time, pal. 

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Gordi? I'm gonna try and find summer rae/fandango vs santino/emma.  If i can't find it ill upload cm punk vs delerious 1hr (i have all three matches from iwa ms but i need to find the matt sydal match that goes with) 

You know I'll review anything! 

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1 hour ago, Morganti said:

Gordi? I'm gonna try and find summer rae/fandango vs santino/emma.  If i can't find it ill upload cm punk vs delerious 1hr (i have all three matches from iwa ms but i need to find the matt sydal match that goes with) 

You know I'll review anything! 

Anything, you say? This one is just for you:

If that match is too short, I'll give you the option of also watching this one so you don't feel short-changed, but it is purely supplementary material:

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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