...and we're back!
Let's start with clips...ugh great...
Tiger Mask/Antonio Inoki/Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Masked Superstar/Don Muraco/Steve Wright (03/30/82) - clips
Tiger Mask/Kengo Kimura vs. Steve Wright/Blackman (03/31/82) - great clips of Tiger against Wright & Blackman
vs. Steve Wright (04/01/82): This was just excellent. It was a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals. It was what I consider an aggressive World of Sport style. Since this is a spotlight on Tiger, I want to mention how comfortable he is at this style as well as lucha libre. It was distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect. I think I'd have to say this was a classsic bout but, may not be everyone's cup of tea. You really have to want to see wrestling for wrestling's sake.
vs. Black Tiger (04/21/82): Rollerball Rocco is the Black Tiger. He had a roughneck but, technical style that is what i imagined Bret vs Tiger would be. The first time, Tiger Mask did not have an answer for his foe. He we see Tiger's true rival (as established in the manga (imagine Vicious & Spike in Cowboy Bebop)) and told through the story of the match. Everytime we thought a TM flurry of kicks or dives would turn the tide, Black Tiger would shut him down. The superhero met his super villain...and Tiger snaps at the end. Almost betraying his vow to fight fair and for good (think like a technico) and turn back to the evil (rudo) ways of the syndicate he and Dark Tiger fight for. A very good match, a compelling story, if you know a little bit of the manga or the trope (again Cowboy Bebop uses it well and The Wild Bunch to a degree). I think what's even deeper is that NJ had the idea to bring in one of Saiyama's best opponents from the UK as his evil counterpart. I think it's the closest the TM and Black Tiger characters had matched real-life...or even tried to. They had a back story and a history. If you're unaware of these things then, its an OK match BUT with some depth, it makes this more substantial. Plus, it is only setting the stage for the future.
vs. Les Thorton (05/25/82): This was a good technical match but, lacked any sort of chemistry or fire. Thorton did some good back work on Tiger but, it never went anywhere and then they wrapped the match up. Glad I watched this but, only to see how Tiger works with everyone.
vs. Black Tiger (05/26/82): Man is that a hot crowd! They are eating every spectacular Tiger move up! Black Tiger doesn't give a damn. He's making the hero pay. Again, Black Tiger Rocco is staying one step ahead. I really like how BT kept going for the pin by using knuckle locks and leverage holds. This was a brilliant touch because it made the fight feel more real. It wasn't out of desparation to get the match over but, a way to show technical superiority over Tiger. Think of Bryan Danielson or Tatsumi Fujinami winning with a small package. Its not a cheap win like maybe a school boy roll up. Its a display of technical mastery and getting the "W." Even moreso like Danielson, BT Rocco is making Tiger expend all of this energy to kickout. These pin attempts are more like amateur wrestling attempts...making the opponent keep moving and fighting out so that, they'll be tired or hurt later and make a mistake. Honestly, its a simple thing but, so few wrestlers do it. If you're looking a this type of work as rest-holds or think every fucking hold has to set-up the finish then, we're going to disagree on this. I thought this was a near classic match.
I've gone through a few of the match archives here on PWO to gauge my opinion against others. I (along with the Vader vs Sting matches) disagree with most folks on Tiger Mask. I'm only 2 discs into the set but, man, I'm really glad I bought this. I'm bummed that I was discouraged by the backlash or the style shift. It reminds me when my comic loving cousin & I said that "Jack Kirby sucked!" at 15 years old; thinking Jim Lee was the shit. Jack Kirby didn't suck but, our minds were so much about Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, the Kuberts and other modern artists, that we couldn't appreciate the simplicity, efficiency, and innovation of Kirby. I consider most folks here to have a pretty damn refined wrestling taste BUT, I think a lot of people had TM vs Dynamite as one of their first set of puro matches. It was probably amazing especially in comparison to what was happening in contemporary wrestling and perhaps other tape watching. like 'Whoa this was in the early 80s and they were doing shit 10 years before the NJ Jrs.!" Or AJPW or NOAH or whatever...maybe NJPW from the past couple years is your entry point. Regardless, I think everyone including myself was blown away by the spots, sequences, and bumps from the TM vs DK matches but, the actual matches were a blur because we were still catching our breaths from that amazing move! Then, when people went back, the moves had been surpassed and the trend was very much "how was the selling? did he get put in a leglock? Why didn't he sell the leg the rest of the match?" Under this scrutiny, early 1980s wrestling especially this lucha/World of Sport/Puro hybrid wasn't going to make the grade. I think people have cooled off on this as this is not emphasized in any wrestling promotion anymore for probably the last 10 years. If we were going to watch contemporary wrestling, all of the "is he selling that?" type of analysis had to make a stop. It was really putting a damper on our overall enjoyment of watching wrestling when ANY legwork wasn't sold like '88 RWTL Kawada.
Man, I digress...I don't think anyone is going to go back and watch Tiger Mask matches anymore...I mean if they've already watched them. I'm not trying to change minds. Plus, there's so new much stuff out there. I'm an odd duck that I'm trying to pull myself away from the [FREE MATCH] videos and the other distractions and focus on watching what I want to watch. With so much newer stuff available online, I fear that the great wrestling of the past will no longer be pro-wrestling canon and be forgotten. How many great 1950's matches can you name? You may have a Thesz match but that's not the only one..but, no one talks about them so, we collectively are ignorant. Then, we must think if no one talks about them then wrestling then n the 50's must have sucked except a couple matches. We're about 40 years out from these Tiger Mask matches. That's like talking about Thesz vs Rikidozan in the 90's. See how time can get away from you? Ironically, these older bouts' availability online should make it easier to see but, if you've got the WWE network its very easy to get lost and lose years of your life there. Let alone if you've got a personal life!
In summary, I feel like I really can trust my own judgement and knowledge at this point. I've been watching puroresu predominately for about 15 years so, I want this blog to still be a guide for folks looking to branch out or trust their own guts. This has been some sort of taste test I guess...if you're on board with what I've recommended in the past then, have no fear. If you think I'm off base here, ah well that's cool too. I thank you for reading and hopefully watching some of this wrestling. Its good to be curious
Stay safe and be smart folks! This shit ain't getting better anytime soon...
The first installment was really good stuff that quite honestly surprised me. My memory of Tiger Mask was all of the flips and spots with Dynamite Kid so, seeing him in different settings was refreshing. But, we start off with 2 Tiger vs Dynamite matches so, let's see how they hold up.
vs. Dynamite Kid (01/01/82): The Brit focuses on taking out TM's leg after he apparently took an odd bump. Quick thinking! On top of that he drives the masked head of Sayama into the mat with some devastating moves. Very good match, ***1/2 area.
vs. Dynamite Kid (01/28/82): The rematch of sorts. Kid really wants to get his mitts on the feline fan favorite. Lotsa clubbing blows, tosses to the floor, and chokes for good measure. Tiger wants to prove he's no fluke and out wrestles the lad with armbars, leg locks, and headscissors. Of course, Dynamite gets his chance and delivers a cervical vertebra crushing piledriver that looks to have TM beat. An extra exciting finishing segment caps off a great match.
vs. Bret Hart (05/02/82): An interesting match as Bret is the most vanilla wrestler Tiger has faced thus far. But, in that regard, it makes everything TM does that more meaningful. Bret is so much larger and is working heel so, its a little bit different from what you might hope for. But, it worked because he really looked like his size and rough neck style was the answer for Tiger Mask. Good match
vs. Baby Face (02/09/82): Now we get to see a more out an out cheating heel in Baby Face. Those fish hooks were great! A very mat based match with explosive rope running will get me every time. Here is no different! If this would have been longer, I would say it was a really great bout. But, as it is, I've gotta say its a peg down at Very Good. There's no shame in that though. I had a blast!
vs. Blackman (03/12/82): Joined in Progress but, no matter...this is great! Excellent chemistry and I have to believe they have fought each other previously. I thought that this was going to be glorified squash filler or maybe clipped since Blackman is unknown to me and such an anachronistic gimmick. (Was it part of the TM Manga?) Glad I was wrong though! He really looked like TM's equal in terms of speed and agility. Only Gran Hamada is up there so, that's good company. Anyhow, check this one out! Its got an awesome organic finish that really seals the deal on a great bout.
Tiger Mask/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Blackman/Karloff Lagarde (03/19/82): If you're interested in a high energy tag match where everyone is in constant motion, look no further! This is like the '83 version of a mid 2010's PWG tag match - double teams, comedy spots, and just go-go throughout. Just a bunch of fireworks (just in time for the Fourth of July too!). A heat segment and a more emphatic victory probably would have put this into great match territory. It's exciting stuff nonetheless!
This set has really been full of surprises. I suppose that I really forgot that meat and potatoes grappling was the backbone of puro even for the burgeoning Junior division. I'm not well versed in 80's lucha as I've only dipped my toe in here and there but, I think the same focus on grappling was true there as well. Or maybe I've just been away from the early 80's wrestling tapes too long!? I forgot how much I really dig the style here. I also think there's a myth that only TM and Dynamite were capable of amazing things OR that Tiger's like a proto late stage Manami Toyota - all action but, little thought. Thus far, I've seen just the opposite. Just pleasantly surprised already.
Thanks for reading! Please stay safe folks!
I finally broke down and bought the big DVD set of the Tiger Mask collection. From what it looks, its most of his taped matches from NJPW. I know there was a big of shift in popular opinion a few years back on the Tiger vs Dynamite matches. I still love those battles but, I wanted to revisit them. Also, I wanted to see more of Tiger Mask as other than those bouts, I'd only seen one other match vs Kobayashi. I knew there was more I needed to see for myself, whatever my final opinion would be. Let's take a look!
4/23/81 - Tiger Mask Debut: Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid: Tiger's debut and its pretty good. Its a bit frenetic and all over the place story wise. Dynamite Kid has met his match. Its a little rough in spots so, I can't say it was a tremendous athletic showing but, a fun start.
6/04/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Chris Adams & Mike Masters - Highlights
8/02/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Scorpion - Highlights, Scorpion is a good base for Tiger's moves
9/18/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Solar & El Solitario -Highlights
9/23/81 -Tiger Mask vs. El Solar: This started out really good but, Solar hurts his shoulder and this is mainly them trying to figure out how to make match. This surely could have been clipped instead of the Scorpion match...and I like Solar too! Only the beginning needs to be watched.
10/08/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Masked Hurricane (Bobby Lee): The best bout so far. This is a mask vs mask match. Guess who wins? There is an emphasis on wrestling rather than flashy moves and the quality benefits. The neat counters or reversals are there but, are few and more meaningful. Good match
10/30/81 - Tiger Mask & Kengo Kimura vs. El Signo & Negro Navarro - Highlights. A full match would have been great.
11/05/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Gran Hamada: Exactly what I was hoping for! Hamada was doing more of the spectacular while Tiger was hitting his kicks. Tiger has slowed from his debut and he and Hamada did a near perfect lucharesu match like we'd see a decade plus later in M-Pro. Near classic match to me! Like ****1/4 territory
12/01/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Canek & Super Maquina: A full tag match, yes!!! Super Maquina has a similar outfit as Maquina Salvaje, a football player. What's odd is Super Maquina is Super Machine in English. But, this is too early for Junji Hirata to even be thinking of doing his famous gimmick. Oh the confusion of masks and older wrestling, its great! Nevertheless, he's a good worker. This is one of the few El Canek matches that I have seen. I gotta say I like him! The Mexican team pits their power against the Japanese team's speed & technique. And another match where "wrestling" is the focus and exciting spots are kept to a minimum for maximum effect . And the big highspot was for the finish of the match...very good stuff. Really a pleasure to watch and had me wanting to see more.
12/08/81 - Tiger Mask vs. El Canek: So this is the follow up to the above tag match. Its a pretty big deal that El Canek is facing TM. Or the other way around, I guess. The first move was kinda wonky so, they re-did it. Eh, I don't like when they do this but, the rest of bout erased that faux pas. Plus the little spot was pretty cool to see done right. Lotsa good power moves & stretching from Canek. Tiger had some clever answers for those but, also pressed the Mexican with his kicks. Exciting "80's finish" but, you know what? If its done right like this, I really don't mind. Very good match..perhaps a tad below the tag match.
This start had me worried a little bit but, really ended well. The Hamada match, man, so glad I saw this. I may like it more than my "rating" indicates. Plus the tag & El Canek singles bout hit the nail right on the head. I was really worried that this would be all flippy nonsense especially based on what the highlighted matches showed. I really hope those are kept to a minimum as I go forward.
Thanks for reading and stay safe! Be smart out there too!
It is June and we're half way through 2020. It's been a rip roaring good time, no?
All of that aside I'd like to do my half year in review. Not that I've been watching 20 matches a week or anything but, I think I've accomplished some wrestling watching goals that have been years in the making. Those big 2 are the wXw 2011 tournament and 1988 NJPW.
I'd like to break things down by decades or era going forward. Then, from there I can say what my pick is. It is a little bit of comparing apples to oranges when looking at wrestling from 1980-2020. Some of the freshness of my approach is making that type of comparison. It is not saying "well that's a good match for 1985" or "that was OK for a 2018 match." I really am of the mind that great wrestling and especially classic wrestling is timeless. The trends and tropes may shift over time but, a hard fought match telling a compelling story will always be exciting, memorable, and worthwhile.
I think breaking the matches down by year will help me organize my thoughts and provide a better resource to a reader. You may only want to know about stuff from the 1990's or 2000's onward so, it gives you the chance to see how I compared it to contemporary and historic matches without reading my actual review. My hope is that a person might see I think Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter is comparable in quality to Vader vs Fujinami. And that then piques their interest in one match or the other. To me that's the real value of match reviews - making comparisons between the familiar and unfamiliar in order to bridge the gap in styles, genres, eras etc. If you've read this blog then, you know my tastes are ecclectic. I don't talk much about Lucha or WoS British style but, that's only because others here have provided such superior insights that I really don't think I can add anything. I just watch and enjoy.
I digress! Let's get onto the lists! Oh, these are only matches that I've watched this year so, any review where I pulled a review from the graveyard to share won't be covered here.
Best Matches Watched - January - June:
Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) Honorable Mention, Very good match with nice action and pacing. Simple story but, well worked.
1970s & 80s:
Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27/88)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27/88)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27/88)
Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24/88)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26/88)
Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88)
Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08/88)
Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88)
1990s & 2000s:
KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006)
KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006)
Low Ki (Senshi) vs Chris Sabin (TNA Bound for Glory 2006) Honorable Mention, An action packed match with 0 TNA bullshit to spoil it. Golden era X Division stuff.
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Manabu Nakanishi (BJW 2007) Honorable Mention, A very good to great match that told a great story that that fans & myself could believe. Precursor to the BJW Strong Style revival stuff.
2010 to present:
Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011)
El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki (same)
El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly
Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan
Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico
Cole & O'Reilly vs Sabre Jr. & Scurll
Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter
Mark Haskins vs Alex Shelley (ROH TV 02/20): Honorable Mention, excellent chain wrestling by Shelley and a good fit for Haskins hybrid style. Crowd actually was into this match which can be tough for live ROH crowds nowadays.
Best Wrestler: Tatsumi Fujinami, Sami Callihan
Biggest Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki
Looking forward to: Tackling the mountain of DVDs I've got - AJPW, BJW, NOAH, NJPW, ROH and more...RetroMania Wrestling video game...
Still deciding on what my next project is going to be...
Thanks for reading!
Sorry for the delay! Work the past few weeks has been really crazy with the increase in online retail due to the Corona Virus pandemic. So, I didn't feel much like watching another computer screen after staring at my work monitor all day.
You didn't come here for excuses though! You wanted to find out about how the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament wraps up. Well, after a long wait, here we are -the finale!
Night 3 starts with a bang!
Sami Callihan vs Davey Richards - An all action match to get things rolling. These two hard hitters left tons on the table for a future encounter but, it was still very good stuff. I would have been happy with either man in the finals.
Colt Cabana & Emil Sitoci vs Kotaro Suzuki & Mark Haskins - The best Colt match as he was more business plus, he had 3 really good workers to keep him grounded. Therefore, we got a quite good tag match. Some comedy, nice section to build some tension, hot tags, just a fun watch. Good match
Go Shiozaki vs Big Van Walter - I was looking forward to this. I was quite disappointed. Let's just get that out of the way. I felt they killed time in a very -ahem- rest hold taking kind of way. I don't like using the term "rest hold" but, that's what it felt like especially in the context of how other matches in the night used holds to move along the action or the story. Here it felt like Go took Walter for a Sunday drive around the town...with no particular place to go. Then they did that long enough and things got interesting. Then, it wrapped up. OK match I suppose but, don't think Shiozaki wanted to go out in style. This was his worse match of the event to me.
Axeman vs Yoshihito Sasaki - I doesn't look good for Go to have a guy called Axeman and a BJW wrestler outshine you but, dammit that's what happened. For as much as a letdown Go Shiozaki was Sasaki (and to a lesser extent Axeman) has been a wonderful surprise. These guys went out there like the previous match could have done. Nothing insane in terms of intensity or stiffness BUT they looked like they wanted to finish the event with a win. That crumb of psychology was all they needed to have a very good perhaps even great match. Thank goodness!
Jon Ryan vs Johnny Moss - Right now, I'd rather see these type of matches and be pleasantly surprised rather than let down. Fortunately, these fellow kept the good times rolling by having a technical showcase. It wasn't always pretty but, this buttered my bread. Hold and counter hold wrestling is timeless and this was well worth your time. Very good match
-There's a tag team match that's really wXw storyline stuff...I'm skipping it-
Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico - This is Sekimoto's 3rd defense and probably his toughest challenge. You'd think the more muscular Moss or Bad Bones would take that honor. However, if you're familiar with Generico then, you know he can take a beating and come right back and get the win. Daisuke's best defense, Generico's 3rd 4 star match in as many nights. You might even think it was better. Go see this
Future Shock (O'Reilly & Cole) vs LDRS of the New School (Sabre Jr. & Scurll): Party Marty in full effect here! Watch for the crowd surfing afterwards. Anyhow, this was your 2010 up and coming wrestlers going to tear the house down type of tag match. Seriously, this was PWG spot fu to keep your jaw on the ground tag wrestling. This could have been a classic had they knew how to edit themselves but, shoot, I won't hate. They have all become smarter workers since then so, as a dream match time capsule, you ought to see it. This was a blast and if you're a fan of these guys like I am then, you'll think it was a great match.
and now, the big match to crown the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament winner...
Big Van Walter vs Sami Callihan - Much like the 2010 Finals, this is your story match. You're using their previous encounters and what you've learned and applying it to this match. Walter is a tank and can finish anyone especially when he hits his powebomb. That move spells DEATH. Sami is a hard hitting dynamo and can finish you with his Stretch Muffler. More importantly, Sami has had a harder tournament - Tommy End, Yoshihito Sasaki & Davey Richards. That's pretty damn good compared to Rico Bushido, Mark Haskins & Go Shiozaki. And you all know how I feel about that last match This was a very good fight where the man who wanted it the most won. That's a feel good story and dammit we need that in wrestling - Even if it means guys getting put thru tables and clotheslined so hard their heads disappear. Excellent ending to an excellent event.
Now to do a little summary and awards (?) I suppose...
This was a tremendous 3 night wrestling event that is truly under the radar of a lot of people. I bought this and the 2010 event based on the line-up. Both did not disappoint but, 2011 is the superior show. Every night has at least 2 great matches with some faring better depending on your tastes. This 16 Carat event truly was a world tournament that provided some dream match ups I never knew I wanted to see. Does that make sense? Hahaha maybe! This was a nice change of pace after my NJ '88 project. I was really happy with buying this set and would definitely recommend it to anyone who digs these wrestlers.
MVP: Sami Callihan, runner up: El Generico
Best Match: Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr., runner up: Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki, honorable mention: all 3 El Generico bouts
Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki
Worst Surprise: Go Shiozaki dogging it (although I will say his one finger was taped each night so, I'll give him that. However, this doesn't excuse slow paced, aimless matches on night 2 & 3)
Overall: Night #1 was a breeze to watch, the best night overall. Night #2 had a couple rough matches in the front half but, had the two best matches. Night #3 had a couple great matches and the big finale but, got off track with the Go/Walter bummer and it took me a couple fights to wash the bad taste outta my mouth. Nonetheless, it was everyone's 3rd night so, it can be expected and everything else clicked as expected. Again, I cannot recommend this event enough especially since it is sold in one package. Plus there's a bonus dvd that I haven't watched yet.
I hope you have enjoyed this review and its encouraged you to branch out of your wrestling comfort zone a little. Totally glad that I took a chance with this.
Thanks for reading! Be safe folks!
Hoping to do my mid year round up real soon
Without further ado, let's take a look at Night #2 of wXw's 2011 16 Carat Gold Tournament!
Axeman vs Rico Bushido vs Tommy End vs Bad Bones - Hard hitting wXw guys doing a fun spot match.
Jay Skillet vs Jon Ryan - I like Ryan from his match with Davey but, you can skip this match. It wasn't bad. It's nothing special to me though.
Colt Cabana vs Marty Scurll - Another outright comedy match. Marty is much better at this than Zack just because he's more vocal and outgoing. Fun stuff
Carnage vs 2-Face - This was OK. They probably didn't need to hit as hard for this kind of match. Post match stuff had storyline stuff so, this was a vehicle for that. Poor use of Carnage IMO.
Mark Haskins vs Big Van Walter - A simple David vs Goliath match with Haskins showing a ton of heart. He didn't have the cleanest execution but, it looked natural when going up against the juggernaut of Walter. Good match and best thus far.
Day 2 is OK thus far but we're only half way through. Let's see what part 2 has to offer...It should get better.
El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Future Shock (Cole & O'Reilly) - I was really glad they took their time in setting up heel vs face dynamics here. Sitoci made a great first impression. He reminded me of Paul London. That's interesting because London and Generico had a nice tag team in PWG in 2010. So, that dynamic was here against the cocky upstart team of Future Shock. This was an exciting match with nice offense and fake-out spots. Best match of the show thus far. Great stuff!
Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki - Man, this looks promising! Sami really looks like he's got a screw loose! He brings so much intensity and bravado to the ring that, I'm invested before the bell rings. A handshake to start the match means Sasaki and Sami are going to be rough. And good gravy, this is violent wonderful wrestling and a near classic bout. This really puts the night back on track by topping the tag match.
Go Shiozaki vs Kotaro Suzuki - NOAH match in Germany! This was a very good match but, felt it was lethargic compared to the previous couple matches. Also, the fan cam on the ground wasn't in the best position. So, we could see the action OK but, we were mainly seeing their backs. They were in a different venue and the hard cam and the floor cam were coming from the same side of the ring for this match. These things don't bother me too much but, I felt that because we couldn't see the impact as well as could be expected, we were missing some of the action. The crowd also seemed tired and I could only say it was very good at best.
Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. - I understand the pacing and card placement with the NOAH match now. They wanted to give the crowd a cool down for this battle. The pacing was aggressive from bell to bell and Holy crap, they just beat the slop outta each other! This has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes. Up & coming ZSJ vs top tier Richards provided a classic encounter without a doubt. If you're a fan of either guy, you should see this for sure.
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Johnny Moss - Match for the wXw belt. This was a good ***1/2 bout to close the night out. There was no way they were going to top the previous match so, they gave the fans a nice hard hitting simple title fight.
Overall, Night 2 was a great show but, really one of two parts. Part one was nothing special although the 4 Way opener and the Haskins/Walter matches were worthwhile. Your best bet is to watch those two and skip to the 2nd half where stuff really picks up with a 3 amazing matches. Davey vs ZSJ is the best bout thus far. Thankfully, the 2011 tourney is sold as a set so, if you're looking to buy this DVD or that DVD, you don't have to choose one night over another
What's even better is that we've still got Night 3!
Thanks for reading!
Are you like me and remember important dates in wrestling? Its almost like they are holidays or birthdays for friends past. You're not necessarily celebrating anything but, when the day comes, it feels a little special. Its like the numbers in that particular combination mean something to you and a few others. For everyone else, its just a Thursday.
That brings me to today, May 7th or as I have it burned into my brain 05/07. Twenty five years ago AJW's Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue had an hour long draw that earned 5 stars from Dr. Dave Meltzer. Ironically, it was probably one of first disappointing big Joshi match I had seen. It was one of the few lauded classics that didn't live up to the praise. As I've watched more AJW since then, I think '95 in general is when AJW started to begin its decline. Don't be mistaken, there are some really great matches and shows in '95. I think the Toyota-Inoue hyper style was becoming the main event norm and 1995 was the break out year. This May match then, the August 08/30 Double Inoue vs Toyota/Sakie 2 out of 3 falls 5 star match are the two major "classic bouts" that both earned big praise and are minor disappointments.
I really do digress...05/07 still sticks with me because, while not a 5 star all time classic, it really is a wrestling tour de force. Both women wanted to show that they were not only the best women wrestlers but, the best wrestlers period. I really would recommend watching this if you're into current Joshi or US women's wrestling. Here's my review of the match and whole show.
Yumi Fukawa vs. Yoshiko Tamura -Pretty basic beginner style match. Fukawa (I think) won with 2 consecutive body slams. Tamura was better in execution but Fukawa did a headscissors takedown from one of Tamura's scoop slams and it was pretty cool.
Midget Death Match: Atsushi Obuddha (Buddhaman) vs. Tsunokake. -Even without knowing more than 5 Japanese words, this was damn funny. It really goes to show the universality of physical comedy and parody.
AJ Junior Title: Chaparita ASARI vs. Nobue Endo (Saya) -An advanced beginners match was marked with ASARI rolling out a couple crazy spin/flip moves for the win.
Takako Inoue & Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa vs. Mariko Yoshida & Kaoru Ito & Rie Tamada. A bit rocky in the beginning but the pace was great throughout and it was quite exciting. Could've been better executed at times though. The proper beginning of the show with Takako/Mariko as the focus. ***3/4
Aja Kong & Reggie Bennett vs. Lioness Asuka & Bison Kimura. - It was a very neat match but nothing spectacular other than Aja brutalizing Bison. Bison's quite a fox in this one too despite getting a bloody nose from the spinning back fist... ***1/2
Minami Retirement Memorial: Suzuka Minami & Yumiko Hotta vs. Las Cachorras Orientales. A great AJW style tag match with Minami being in the majority of the match. Hotta was minor in her role...I'm not sure this was because it was Suzuka's retirement match or what. Still it was very exciting and I really wasn't sure who was going to win. Really emotional too which is nice to see. LCO were pretty good here in their berserk heel mode giving Suzuka a tough retirement match. ****1/4
3 Minute Exhibition Match: Marine Wolves vs. Bull & Hotta. For a 3 minute match, this was awesome and actually resembled a match and gave an opportunity for the Marine Wolves to shine one last time.
WWWA World Singles Championship: Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue. This is a gruelling sixty minutes of Joshi action. It was a bit unwise to let two sprinters run the long race since they got injured relatively early. Still if you had to pick two wrestlers from AJW to go 60 minutes it would be these two. They're so full of energy that just when you thought they crapped out they would have a burst of action. The real complaint here is that the quality of the execution suffered as the match progressed. Still it's to be expected and really was quite excusable . Still you can't give something this flawed 5 stars by using the match as an out. Still probably one of the best 60min. draw I've ever seen ****+
Thanks for reading!
The 2nd day of the wXw 16 Carat show has been watched and the notes just need to be typed up. Hoping for tomorrow...in the meantime watch some Women's wrestling!
I have been meaning to watch this tournament for awhile now. I bought this along with the 2010 tournament so, this has been a long time coming. The box art of the DVD set features all of the participants in this year's event. It is pretty damn stacked even compared to the previous year. We have stars from ROH, Big Japan, NOAH, Independent US talent as well as European wrestlers. This 16 Carat Gold event may be the most diverse and globally representative tournament assembled in recent memory.
Enough fluff! Let's get to the wrestling!
Kyle O'Reilly vs Karsten Beck vs Marty Scurll vs Axeman: This 4 man match will determine who will be an alternate for the tournament. Nice to have some incentive for the guys...they surely fought like they meant it. Axeman was a nice surprise. He and Kyle have a similar style. Fast paced fun opening match.
Yoshihito Sasaki vs Carnage: Sasaki is a guy who's name I've seen here and there the past decade but, never knew how he flew under my radar. I mean, I have Fire Pro Returns and don't recall seeing him. Ha! I was wrong. He's listed under the Zero-1 promotion as a low ranking wrestler. That was 2004 in Japan and in 2011 he's made his way in the world. And I have to say, damn! I was missing out. He's got a no nonsense hard hitting style that I appreciate.His opponent Carnage does as well. I remember him from 2010's shows. Very good match here and a proper way to start the tourney. Two matches in and this feels better than 2010.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs Colt Cabana: Is Colt NWA champ here!? This was funny at times but, took too long to really go anywhere. This was a popcorn match to me. You'll be OK fast forwarding to the last five minutes or skipping altogether. Much like the other World of Sport style matches (not that this was exactly but, it had that feel and style) of 2010, this feels out of place next to 2010 puro style bouts.
Adam Cole vs Mark Haskins: Both dudes have come a long way from here. This was a very scatterbrained Indy wrestling match. Stuff was done with little rhyme or reason. Unlike the ZSJ/Cabana match, this was relatively short and an OK watch.
Go Shiozaki vs Johnny Moss: Thank goodness they got the show back on track. Fans started out pretty much behind Moss but, Go won them over with his hard hitting never say quit attitude...kinda like how Rocky won over the Russian crowd in Rocky IV. This was a very good match and the ending portion was that stuff you want from NOAH's top dog. This was another very good pairing.
Big Van Walter vs Rico Bushido: Never heard of Bushido but, he reminds me of how I imagine Ricky Reyes fought and looked like in the Rottweiler days of ROH. That's probably all wrong but, I'm cool with that assumption. He was all martial art kicks and Walter put him down after a few power moves. Short and unoffensive match. I have nothing against so-so matches but, at least make them short like this match.
Davey Richards vs Jon Ryan: Ryan has no chance in hell beating Davey...just by the looks of him. But to Davey's credit he gave a lot to J.R. He got some heel moves in and was able to fight Richards and be a credible opponent. So, don't let his cheesy ring gear and physique fool you! I really thought an upset might happen. Another very good match.
Sami Callihan vs Tommy End: This was an intense, fast, hate filled match. These guys were wXw regulars and this must have had some back story to it. You don't need to know it though. These dudes were aiming to maul each other. Tommy End is much improved since 2010 and Sami has gotten even better. The best bout so far! Great match with a fantastically aggressive submission finish. Yes!
Kotaro Suzuki vs El Generico: This is a pretty high profile match for 2011. It's like an unofficial Best of the Super Jrs. match. It had lots of good action that kept the excitement and drama going. Who would win? Generico is a mega star in indy wrestling and Kotaro is GHC Jr. champ...every nearfall felt like the one that would do it. They both have so many tricks in the bag so, the end was always in doubt. Great match. As good or better than the previous bout for sure. A sweet way to end day one!!
Wait...that wasn't the main event?
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Bad Bones (wXw Hvywt. Championship match): This is like the cherry on top of a sundae. It starts of slow but, gets action packed as the match progresses. The last few minutes made a big difference as this was scratching at great match territory. Reminded me of the Hayabusa/Tanaka era FMW matches. Very good match overall...like ***3/4 territory. Then we get a very enjoyable post match with Bones and Johnny Moss comes out to challenge Daisuke. Very psyched to see Night 2!
This was a heck of night of wrestling. This was much better than I remember the 2010 Night #1 being. Each match that I enjoyed delivered the excitement and entertainment that I was hoping for. Not one wrestler in those matches dogged it and in many cases they went above and beyond to have the best match they could. If they can keep it up then, this might be one helluva ride.
Thank you for reading!
The final installment of my NJPW 1988 adventure! Its ending with stuff from the 09/12 show. Of course there is more out there but, I just don't own it or have easy access to it...and that's the name of my game
If you have NJ World or do file loading or wanna get DVDs, please check it out. I'm sure there's really good stuff I've missed. Anyhow, let's begin!
Big Van Vader vs Bam Bam Bigelow (09/12) I have the full version of this but, overall I was disappointed here. Bigelow didn't bring much to the table. I wanted to see them pound away at one another & its not what they did. It had a few nice moments but ended in a DQ. The best was when Vader was exiting the ring he pushed some fan in the face. OK match as their 08/08 bout is the one to see.
T. Fujinami, K. Kimura, Y. Fujiwara, S. Koshinaka & K. Yamada vs R. Choshu, M. Saito, S.S.Machine, K. Kobayashi & H. Saito (09/12): 5 on 5 elimination match that goes about 40 minutes. I have the final few minutes on DVD but, was able to find this in 3 parts on YouTube. I'm really glad that I saw this in full especially since folks have said its a classic. After watching this as well as a good chunk of '88 New Japan, I think this is a very good match especially the first 2/3rds. There was a good deal of punching and stomping in this match so, to have the final portion just be MORE of that...eh it kinda fizzled out for me. We get some good blood but, it feels like the wrong wrestler got color and I just lost what they were trying to tell/show me. Nevertheless, I had fun watching. There were some really great segments and match ups but wasn't a classic. Give it a shot though!
So, this wraps up my exploration of 1988 NJPW and it was pretty great! Everything leading up to and including the 08/08 Inoki vs Fujinami match was fantastic in one form or another. Obviously there were some classic encounters that I'm glad that I finally saw. I am a little bummed that this final installment was not the awesome send off that I was hoping for. I do feel like I've seen everything that I truly wanted to for '88 NJ though so, I can't be too letdown. Like I said above, the 5 man elimination match was very good and did have some really worthwhile action but, I think I enjoyed the 04/27 elimination more than 09/12.
The best matches to me are:
Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki (01/25)
Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiro Hase (03/11)
Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27)
Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26)
Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22)
Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08)
Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08)
And after the September matches, I'm missing the last 3 months of the year. So, clearly this isn't an end all - be all review of '88 but, I'm happy with what I've watched. Its totally lived up to my expectations and the above bouts are the matches I would truly recommend checking out!
Thanks for reading! I'm moving on to the 2011 wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament to change things up!
Today felt like a good day to watch some bookmarked matches on YouTube. I think I wanted to break up the NJ '88 stuff for a moment with some bouts that piqued my curiosity.
Let's do this chronologically!
Sting & Dr. Death vs Terry Funk & Terry Gordy (NWA Power Hour 08/08/89): I mean if this was more than a TV match, I'm sure wrestling fans would know about this. As it is its still pretty fun with the Terrys teaming up against the Steves. Everyone except Doc was pretty good with Gordy and Sting providing the action and Funk adding that middle aged and crazy energy. Williams did press slam Bamm Bamm so, I mean that's sweet. Fun stuff!
Jushin Liger vs Chris Benoit (WCW Starrcade 1995): A fireworks show where they loaded as much cool looking stuff as they could into 10 minutes. It was great until the Kevin Sullivan distraction which led to the botched hurricanrana finish. THAT aside, this was totally worth the watch. Oh, I should note that muted it because I don't care what Tony, Heenan, and Dusty had to say.
Rob Van Dam & Sabu vs The Dudley Boys (ECW TV ep. 288 10/24/98): This is more of a review of the segment than just the match. Its supposed to be Balls & Tanaka vs RVD/Sabu for the Tag Titles. The Dudley Boys jump 'em with chairs real vicious like. So, they can't compete but, Bill Alfonso calls Bubba and D-von out. I don't think Rob and Sabu are psyched on that but, the fans are. So, we get the match which is a highspot squash where much to Cleveland audience and myself, RVD and Sabu do damn near all of their upper level acrobatics..and the Brothers from Another Mother eat it. The Triple Threat of Candido, Bigelow, and Douglas ruin the fun. But thank goodness for ECW and match continues and Taz tries to make the save. Well, he at least gets some of the heat off the champs but its not enough and the challengers 3D Sabu. Awesome stuff that made ECW TV must see to me.
Misawa vs Kobashi (NOAH 12/24/04): Their last singles match and a Xmas gift for the NOAH fans. This was a 10 minute Champions Carnival style sprint. I was really pleasantly surprised that they were busting out the their A game...seriously if you want a condensed Misawa vs Kobashi bout, you can't go wrong with this! Very good match.
So, that was fun! I left off a couple other bouts like AJ vs Syxx Pacc where he's on crystal meth and a Dr Death vs Cactus match because they were just OK. I'm not trying to steer you into the rocks and waste your time.
Thanks for reading!
NJPW 1988 part 9 coming shortly!
Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08): It was a gruelling 60 minutes of struggling to gain the upperhand. Inoki probably controlled more than Fujinami (60-40) but, Fujinami had youth on his side. Just an amazing display of endurance and athleticism and a perfect story showing the fighting spirit, strong style and NJPW leading up in essence to this very match. It's not really an ending but the continuation. The clips really helped get this across especially after the match. The definitive strong style match, the definitive epic, a must-see.
Re-watch: 54 minute version..I swore that I had the full version but, we don't miss too much. 60 grueling minutes of wrestling action is right! I really don't think this was planned out at all! In a good way Both guys just fought over holds, working in strikes and suplexes when they could find an opportunity. This was amazing and organic. But, this was Inoki strong style and that is Pro Wrestling as the strongest of all martial arts. This is the perfect example of that (disregarding mix style matches). This was student proving that he was the true IWGP champion and the equal to the legend and hero that's Antonio Inoki. All that being said, I'm not fond of long matches anymore. So, I would probably have this as my #3 NJPW 1988 classic behind Fujinami vs Choshu and Inoki vs Choshu. But a must see classic nonetheless! Glad that I took time to watch this again.
Thanks for reading!
Stay safe folks
We are closing in on the epic battle between Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki on August 8th. Let's see what else is going on in New Japan at the time...
Buzz Sawyer/Manny Fernandez vs Riki Choshu/Masa Saito (7/22) Short clip of just the finish. Everyone looked pretty cool and like skull crushers.
Next, the TV program shows us a recap of the events leading to the Fujinami/Inoki encounter. Some I've covered in previous posts while some footage is new to me. Riki vs Vader looks particularly interesting. This match and others are available but, I didn't happen to pick that disc up at the time. Anyhow, we're now properly excited for the showdown.
Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08): Both men wrestled like they wanted to steal the show from the headliners. Never a dull moment and I recant my statement from an earlier post- these guys are awesome opponents for one another. It reminded me of Misawa vs Kawada in '92 - move sets that emphasize action while not minimizing the importance of leverage based pinning predicaments near the end. Wow, that's specific! But, that's what's so great about late 80's and early 90's junior style. They would go for flashy moves but, would return to time tested cradles and bridging suplexes for the win. This reminds us that the wrestler is there to pin or submit his opponent first and foremost. Later, of course, the flash would be the finish and the match becomes a game of 'one upping each other.' Anyhow, this was a great match. Probably the best Jr. bout shown in '88 thus far AND probably the longest. It clocked in at about 9 minutes.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs Big Van Vader (8/08) Vader attacks Bigelow with the helmet smoke! Hell yes! The battle of the bulldozers is on! And it doesn't stop until the final bell is sounded. We get an expected 80's finish but, that does not diminish anything that occurs prior. Vader and Bam Bam were able to be athletic and really sell the idea that Big Van had met his equal in the Beast from the East. A very good match for sure! And its shown in full. Nice!
Next time, we see if Fujinami vs Inoki lives up to the '88 and historical hype. We'll see if it lives up to my memory as well!
Thanks for reading!
A little bit of a delay in posting this what with the pandemic being a bit of a distraction and all. Nevertheless, we push forward with NJPW 1988!
Buzz Sawyer & Manny Fernandez vs Super Strong Machine & Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/05): I'm going to go with this date although I'm not 100% sure. Who cares though? Its Manny & Buzz smashing skulls and Super Strong Machine, the most iconic NJ wrestler that most people haven't seen more than 3 matches of! Me included! Well, this is a finish only match but, I'm going to add it to my tally. Wrestling-wise Buzz & Manuel do some nice heelin' and double teamin' which made me really push for the Riki-gun team comeback. Very good stuff from what was shown. Helluva lot better than the Gaspar Bros. match!
Kengo Kimura vs Riki Choshu (07/09): This was just about complete, yay! A fast and exciting match. Way moreso than you thought Kengo vs Riki in '88 would be. Kengo is getting phased out from what I can tell but, man he's going for broke against Riki. As a reminder, this is a round robin match to face Fujinami in August so, there is a lot at stake. That what really makes this so very good..plus Inoki is on commentary. And damn you'd better believe he gets up in the mix post match. Ric Flair style too - shirtless & in dress slacks! This match and post match were just a blast.
Masa Saito vs Big Van Vader (07/22): I have the TV version which is pretty much the last few minutes but, I was able to locate the full version via handheld on Youtube. You're not missing a lost classic with the handheld...let me say that much. There's some nice slams and Vader took some sick bumps for a man his size. Good match and Vader tantrums afterwards No way I would say that to his face...he'd toss me like a fucking guardrail.
Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22): The clear main event and reason Vader vs Saito was clipped. Choshu is so amped to get at Antonio that he won't let the big chinned hero in the ring for introductions. He's like a junk yard dog walking the perimeter of the ring, blocking Inoki, getting into his head before the bout begins. And when the bell sounds, it is on! Inoki out-wrestles the rebel Riki and we see that for once, he is the underdog. This is a scramble, this is a fight, I love it. Loaded with intensity and explosiveness...its on the short list of great sub 10 minute matches. Hell, for its sense of urgency, intensity, story, and finish...it is a classic.
I've never heard anything about this bout but, man I was glad it was included on my DVD set. If you've been watching any of these matches or like that Riki Choshu Strong Style then, you'll want to see it.
Next time, we've got more Manny & Buzz, a return to Jr. action and more! Thank you for reading!
Stay safe and be smart out there wrestling fans!
Let's look at Part 5 of New Japan in 1988!
Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Shiro Koshinaka (06/26): Kobayashi is such a badass. He just rips up the title match declaration and hassles the official. This is a key match up with the Junior captains of the NJPW and Riki teams. That being said, this is the longest Jr. match shown on TV thus far and is very good stuff. Move-wise this is not as fast paced or innovative as some other bouts however, the simple suplexes and pinning combinations felt really important and dire. Its very scrappy and the crowd eats it up. Its hard not too just dig this match. Very good bout!
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26): NJ Vader was such a monster in damn near every way that matters. Fujinami is as capable and tough a wrestler as you can ask for and Vader just destroys him with power slams and splashes. Fujinami has technical victories over B.V.V. but, we may just chalk those up to luck or smarts. Vader is not going to leave anything up to luck or give The Dragon a chance to be clever this time. Perhaps unwisely, Tatsumi wants to prove that he's a real champion and slay the monster...This is a great title fight and probably the best Vader match thus far. I've seen this match a few times over the years but, it was fresh and exciting like it was my first go around. Take 15 minutes and check this out.
To end this post, we see a confrontation between Vader and Inoki along with Kengo Kimura, Riki Choshu, and Masa Saito that takes place on 07/15. It features a nice sequence or two of Inoki and Vader getting into it. Antonio shows he's ready for the big man to give it his best shot. Doing a little looking ahead, this sets the stage for a summer round robin to see who will face Fujinami at the 08/08 show (you may have a guess). Nevertheless, I want to see the matches, man! That's a pretty stacked line-up.
Next time, we'll see some matches from this round robin plus Buzz Sawyer and Manny Fernandez kick butt!
Thank for reading!
Back for part 4 of New Japan 1988! This is also my 150th blog entry so, I'm pretty excited. I'm doubly happy because late 80's Puro was one of the big focuses of Puro + More and I'm keeping things relatively true to my original intentions.
Well, that's all good but, you came here to read and learn about '88 New Japan! So, let's get down to it
Owen Hart vs Keiichi Yamada (06/10): Very nice leg attacks from Yamada but, Owen's not concerned with that. Too bad but, eh let's assume it didn't really 'hurt.' Nevertheless, Yamada adjusts his game plan to deal with the acrobatic Canadian...and we get a real Jr. wrestling treat. 7 minutes or so shown and it was very good stuff. You can see from this and the last NJ entry that Owen Hart was getting the spotlight in the Juniors division. I can't recall if they wanted him to be a new Dynamite Kid but, I know Bret's autobiography talks in some detail of NJPW's interest in Owen especially in '88. He eventually leaves to go to the WWF for a short time only to return a few years later in 1991 where he & Yamada (as Liger) have some great matches. I wonder what if Owen stayed in NJ for the Super Junior explosion of the 1990's. We may have missed out on a few classics in WWF but, how many more would we have seen if stayed? Owen vs Sasuke and vs Ultimo are a couple that would have been dream bouts.
Masa Saito & Big Van Vader vs The Gaspar Brothers (06/24): The Gaspars are Bob Orton Jr. and Dan Moffat/Jason the Terrible (from Stampede and not the guy who Quinones got to play Jason in the IWA, W*ING, etc). That being said this has a very sleazy indy vibe which is a lot of fun especially since Vader isn't selling shit for two guys dressed like Jason and Tiger Jeet Singh has twins. Its too short to rate but, funny goofy stuff.
Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24): Belt is on the line (I think Owen won it from Yamada if I remember...no matter either way) and like most TV stuff this is Joined in Progress and we get 6+ minutes. That shortage of footage is the bummer but, what we get is gold. Good focus from Owen who is looking to weaken Koshinaka's back. Kosh of course has a comeback like Pulp Fiction Travolta but, can the Canuck counter it? This was great from what was shown...I mean it was better than great...it was awesome (but) I don't have the full match...the beginning could be the shits. But man, this JIP version was something to see. Owen and Shiro were doing state of the art stuff here.
Now...those boys at the TV production office must have had good reason to do a snip job on that banger of a match...let's see...
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24): Remember their last encounter where Fujinami blazed Choshu from the start but, his body broke down? Keep that in mind. Riki Choshu is like the Terminator (from the first film). He is an unstoppable killing machine. He's not going to allow Tatsumi a chance to make good on his assault style offense. He's going to push past whatever his foe throws at him in order to crush, kill, destroy. Fujinami, is like Kyle Reese though. He knows Riki better than anyone and knows if he can stay one step ahead then, he might be able to trick and trap his opponent. If not then, there is a Riki Lariat with his name on it. This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry. Once blood begins to flow then, you know this is something truly special. Best match of the project thus far without a doubt.
Whew! I was not expecting the one-two punch of Owen/Koshinaka & Fujinami/Choshu. I was fanning out for sure...I'm glad that we got that epic Strong Style clash in full. Although, they could have given the Junior bout a couple more minutes and cut out the Gaspar match but, I'm just thinking out loud
Excellent way to commemorate my 150th blog post. Can't wait for a 150 more! But one step at a time...Post 151 and NJPW 1988 part 5 coming soon!
Thanks for reading!! Go watch some wrestling
I took a small break from my New Japan 1988 project to cherry pick a few Golden Era Ring of Honor matches that I had been wanting to see.
The theme I guess would be Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson but, KENTA is in two of the three matches. So its really Joe, Danielson plus KENTA matches that I wanted to see AND are free on ROH's Youtube channel. I've had these bookmarked for months and been waiting to see for more than a decade. There's no time like the present to check these out!
Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Title, Midnight Express Reunion 2004): I've seen their 2003 match and heard that this was their best. It is considered a classic and in 2004 with the storyline of Joe post Punk encounter #1, I can see giving it that status. I'm not going to take that away in honesty because, I'm sure there are wrinkles that I've missed in 2020. That being said, I thought as a stand alone title fight this was very good (and perhaps great). I think the story was Dragon trying to force Joe to go long (like Punk had) but, also try to systematically dismantle the champ. That and Danielson post NJPW tour could hit with the hardest so, Joe didn't stand a chance. However, the Samoan Submission machine was in Terminator mode not only eating what Danielson was throwing but, dishing out some sickening blows himself and possession "the choke" or Coquina Clutch as TNA would brand it,
I've read comparisons to 90's AJPW and I can see that as there were few slams and suplexes compared to strikes and submissions. Where this differs is the organization department. Most notably Joe's need to fit in the Ole kicks 2/3rds of the way in. This is the point where my excitement went off track. Each guy was desperate to close the fight and now Joe finds it necessary to do his showboat/insult move? He should have just faked it out and just chest kicked Danielson or something more visceral. And that's the thing... the match was at a gut level violent...like Tsuruta vs Tenryu then, Joe (and I don't really blame him in '04) inserts an Indy fan service move. A bit of wind went out of my sails.
My other quibble is Danielson's attack psychology. The awful 2004 announcers (whom I muted on the 2nd watch) even acknowledge the change in gameplan. This is so heavy handed on their part frankly...they're explaining rather than letting the wrestler do so with their actions. Anyhow, I would have preferred a Liger-like focus from Bryan on Joe's leg or neck early on then settle into the middle of the match only to call-back to that to set up the ending portion...even if it would not lead to the finish. Instead, it doesn't seem like he can commit to a single plan of focus and neither can Joe from a selling standpoint. So, the story of the challenger doesn't come across as strongly as it should have,
Those things would have made this an all time classic in my eyes...I think this was the time where Gabe S. was really pushing the long matches = great match ideology for ROH. The above flaws would have been less bothersome if this was 5 -10 minutes shorter. Not that it NEEDED to be but, they story would have been tighter and the earlier portion would have look less like time-filler. Nevertheless, I watched the damn thing twice in two days and enjoyed it both times so, I gotta recommend watching this.
Samoa Joe vs KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (In Your Face 2006): This is another match that I'd been wanting to see for a decade plus. I'd seen clips from the ROH Live Wire from another DVD and thought this looked awesome but, perhaps too good to be true. I was wrong. This was precisely the match I'd hoped it would be. A high intensity, ultra stiff action packed 3 way match during their peak.Honestly, 2006 was the peak of their peak and this was special. A classic match that doesn't go too long or get too cute. Perhaps an all time classic if I'm going to be honest with myself. The shorter match length (20+ minutes I think) kept everything mean and showing how much Joe & Bryan had improved in just over a year...and ROH for that matter.
Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson (Best In the World 2006): I watched this bout right after the above and if you have the luxury, I suggest you do the same. It plays off of (and in real time sets-up) the heat between Joe & KENTA beautifully. Not only that but, we have 4 of the best wrestlers in 2006 facing off and this is probably the closest to a AJPW Big 4 match as ROH did. Some have given this **** but, that's the bare minimum in my view. This match deviated from the balls to the wall fest that many were hoping for and instead provided all kinds of build ups and cool-downs that only master wrestlers can do. And I'm not talking about kickouts but, they achieved this by scaling up the intensity and urgency through body language, speeds, how hard they through their strikes, when they chose to tag, etc. It was a thing of beauty and like all true classics, I could have watched this all night. Even when a error was made, it was forgiven and forgotten as a miss rather than a mistake. If you are a fan of these guys and this style, check this out. You may not think as highly of it as me but, you will have fun.
That goes for all of the above! Three remarkable matches available for free on ROH's 'tube page. I'd like to get the DVDs of the ones featuring the NOAH guys since I'm old school but, if not I'm stoked that I saw them.
Thanks for reading! We'll get back to NJPW 1988 next week for sure!
We're back and on to Part 3 of New Japan in 1988! I've got a crappy cold right now so, let's see if I can get it together enough to write this entry without a hundred typos.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27): My compilation has this listed as their 05/08 match but, it follows the multi-man elimination match from 04/27 (see previous entry) and a couple other points of research show this as their April match. That outta the way, this was all kinds of exciting. Fujinami knows he's got to take it to the Mastadon right from the start if he has any chance. Inoki got killed on the 01/04 shows because he was treating B.V. Vader as a normal "big man." Fujinami's plan is working until he gets gorilla press dropped onto a guardrail...throat first! From here Vader chokes and torment The Dragon...Fujinami is really fighting to survive. His "plan" is shot to shit and any comeback seems to enrage Vader. Be on the look out for the cross body block that damn near kills both guys. We get a "finish" but, its only the beginning!
Next we get a little video package explaining the UWF 2.0 split. We even see clips of Maeda vs Yamazaki. With that I'm going to insert a match that I found on Youtube that happens earlier in the year...
Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiroshi Hase (02/05): This is the precursor to their March classic (see part 1 of series). This is a very good to great match - and I would have to say Hase's selling of the story is what makes this special. His comeback/revenge submissions are really choice! Look up Hase '88 and you should find this match no problem
OK now back to May 1988!
The TV footy jumps us way into Fujinami vs Vader (05/08) and this is all fire! Both guys are pissed and we get 6-7 of the final minutes. Sweet! Its 80's footage so, I'll take what I can get!
Koshinaka vs Hase (05/27): They show this like its a JIP match but, we really only get the final 2 minutes of the match but, we get a clean exciting finish. Nice! Not enough shown to really rate.
Owen Hart vs H. Hase (05/27): JIP with Owen stuck in the Scorpion lock but, soon enough he finds his way out. Hase is a destroyer in '88 and isn't giving the Canadian a chance. 5 minutes shown, very good stuff.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27): We get this in full thankfully! Fujinami is picking Choshu apart to the point where he's bleeding early on. If you know Choshu, he's one big move away from his comeback. What's interesting is that Fujinami injures his ankle (a twist from an earlier move? Or is this the story!?) and Rik is on it like a pirahna. The Dragon will not quit in true fighting spirit...when he gets his Dragon Sleeper on, you know he's not letting go! Great dramatic match that is only one battle in the war.
Check these matches out and thanks for reading! I'm gonna go get a cough drop and go to bed...
Back for the second installment of my adventure in 1988 New Japan land! We are now in uncharted territory...ooohh spooky...Well, not too spooky although Vader's entrance head apparatus is some kinda Geiger stuff.
The big change is that the 2nd UWF split has gone down so, Maeda, Takada, Yamazaki, and Fujiwara have left again. So, the emphasis of the promotion from what I gather is Riki Choshu's army vs New Japan's army. And then Vader being an absolute monster who cannot be stopped even by Inoki!
Let's see what's going on...
Riki Choshu & H. Hase vs Antonio Inoki & S. Koshinaka (04/11): Oh man, even the ring intros are heated! Then, TV picks back up and Team Riki are looking to demolish Koshinaka. Great tag wrestling from them. Inoki is playing the spoiler of their fun but isn't necessarily out for blood. I would have liked a minute or two at the end but, this was a good match and a proper start to my new batch of matches.
Then the DVD set shows fallout after it appears Fujinami and Inoki lose to Vader & Masa Saito. Some shouting and a couple stiff slaps and we've got some set-up to the August showdown between Icon & Ace of NJPW.
Keiichi Yamada & S. Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi & H. Hase (04/22): Tons of excitement here as these two athletic teams go at it! Hase and Koshinaka potato'ing each other was a highlight. However, Kobayashi's stumbling piledriver on the floor was righteous...I just wish it led to something greater...oh man...It looked so good! Yamada is the one really selling this match and if everyone else wanted to then, this would have been a great match. But, I can understand...this was a blast nonetheless. Very good bout with a nice finish.
So, the above bout sets-up a 5-on-5 elimination match between the rank and file of NJ Army vs Riki Army
Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27): These are all TV matches I've figued out so, there is some JIP and unfortuately, we get some here. I say that because, we start out with Hase already bleeding. That is BIG as he's at the top of the food chain in this match. So, it looks like NJ already has a leg up however, they quickly get two of their guys eliminated. We get a commercial break and New Japan has got Hase in there looking to get revenge. Mind you, eliminations can happen by pin, submission, or getting tossed to the floor. We're saying you can even get tossed through the middle rope and be out! So, believe me the action picks up fast and we get some big surprises. Its a 2 on 1 situation at the end and man! It is a nail-biter! The tension was so high as any mistake could lead to a elimination. Great match and in full, it could be a near classic. About 14 minutes shown.
Things are picking up and I'm having fun with 1988. More to come next time with Vader vs Fujinami and more.
Thanks for reading!!!
This has been a project I've been waiting to do for quite sometime. My busy season with work is all done and we've finally finished moving into our house. Sure, there are tons of boxes and bags full of stuff that we need to unpack, sort, and put away. That can wait though!
I want to get back to wrestling and specifically 1980's puroresu! New Japan 1988 is my first stop. I'm somewhat acquainted with this year from my Nobuhiko Takada comps and the 8/8/88 Inoki vs Fujinami bout. I'm going to start the year with reviews from my "vault" but, I will scratch the surface a bit more as I progress.
(01/11): Keiichi Yamada vs. Masakatsu Funaki- This one was full of sound mat wrestling and some punishing holds. The best part was seeing shooter supreme doing pro-style moves! Its totally fresh and interesting to see this mat master to hit these moves. Funaki is darn good at it too! A fun match and bit of late 80's juniors gem. A match made me declare Damn! Liger's my favorite wrestler! *** 3/4
(01/25) Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki - Yes! finally the strong style match I knew they could do! Awesome work by Yamazaki and Takada lets go of his ego and plays the vulnerable young ace to Yamazaki's perenial yet gutsy underdog. This is the Yamazaki match to watch...well every Yamazaki is worthwhile but even moreso here because like 9/11/85 he's allowed to compete. The joint locks and holds are sold like killer moves as all worked shoots really rely on. This plays really well off the May & Sept. '87 tag matches. ****+probably higher.
(02/04) Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka - This started out pretty good but they were getting too complex with their spots & they weren't hitting them how they wanted. It started picking back up but there was a glitch in the DVD on my player so I turned it off. I was not into it what can I say. It's worth a re-watch.
(02/04) Hiroshi Hase vs. Keiichi Yamada- A fun, smart, well wrestled match. Each man picked his opponent apart as best they could. Of course Yamada had his moves from the top rope but, Hase surprised me with some of his maneuvers. He was pretty brutal as he was still a protoge of Riki Chosu. This of course wasn't the classic one would hope for but, it was pretty good stuff. I just wish it could have gone on longer as it was just starting to pick up when it ended. That's really the only knock on this match but, this tendency to go-home around 10 minutes is an 80's Jrs. thing. ***1/2
(03/11): Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiro Hase - I was expecting a mat wrestling clinic but um...we didn't get that. That's OK though since both guys brought their A game and Takada wasn't stalling here and Hase was his great self albeit a bit in a heel/Choshu mode which was very cool because Takada seemed quite vulnerable. Expectations aside, this was an awesome match with great performances by both men and a match that goes on their highlight reel. These last couple of matches have really saved Takada for me because he was really getting in a rut in the summer of '87... and shows Takada really wanting to go out of NJPW with a bang. Another piece of evidence that the UWF guys or Takada at least was best against NJPW guys. It allowed him to fluff off their "fake" offence, allowed them to really put over the holds as near-finishes since they weren't experienced "shooters", it provided unorthodox sequences and rope running scenarios and the made so much out of the "fake" offence when it did connect. In essence, showing that the puro moves were in fact just as deadly as a head kick or armbar. In other words no one's style was discredited as they were simply different points on the same continuum which is a big part of what makes Inoki Strong Style so great when done right ****1/2+
(03/14) Takada/Yamazaki vs Yamada/Funaki - You know the more I see Yamada without the Liger gimmick the more I wish they hadn't given it to him. He is fucking amazing in every match on this set. The same with Yamazaki. He really pulls himself out of the UWF mold at times and he's damn capable & quite underrated. It's a shame that he stuck around UWFi to get jobbed out. Forget that though. I ignore that now that I've seen these matches. He plays a great babyface who's capable but just not always "good" enough to get that big win. Here the story broadens as the German suplex is his trusty match ender and separates him from the others or at least defines him a bit. He doesn't have the aura of Maeda, Fujiwara or Takada but, he's a contender. Anyhow, this was another damn good tag match with a young Masakatsu Funaki which is funny because we all know how legitimately great he would become & how brutal he could get (7/89 UWF match for that).
(04/11 handheld) Keiichi Yamada & Masa Funaki vs. Anotonio Inoki - This is kind of like a 2 on 1 elimination match but, turns into a regular 2 on 1...I guess because the junior want to beat Inoki and the big-chinned one can beat 2 guys at once. Its a quick fun match taped from a fan's camcorder in a gymnasium. If you're a fan of these guys then you'll get a kick out of this one. Its not worth searching out for at like 10 miuntes but, it's a nice inclusion on a compilation.
So, I hope that got you pumped to check some of this stuff out! There are definitely some must see match ups. I'll pick back up with Choshu & Hase vs Inoki & Koshinaka TV match from 04/11/88 next time and we'll go from there.
Thanks for sticking with me during the hiatus and thanks for reading!
It is that time of year where everyone compiles all of the best and worst stuff of the year. In this case, I'm talking about wrestling and I am no different from every other wrestle dork on the inter-web. I take a slightly different approach than most because more often than not, I don't keep up with current wrestling. So, I can't provide a match of the year (MOTY) or anything like that...even though I saw a couple of ROH matches that I thought were great. I'm pretty sure those aren't ending up on folks lists though
Anyhow, I'm doing my Best Match Watched list for 2019 which are the best matches of any year that I've watched in the past 365 days. This probably won't be the longest list since I started the blog since we were moving this year and had to sell our house BUT I've got some matches that I haven't blogged about that I think are worthy contenders so, I might surprise myself. So, to start let's go back to the half way point of the year and recap from my June post:
-Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric - Chicago Wrestling (circa 1958): Simple, brutal wrestling - the ropes break, part of the ring breaks. Classic shit.
-Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP (1977): Near classic hard-hitting bout and angle.
-Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA (1984): The in-ring work, the story, this is a classic.
-AKIRA vs Kenny Omega - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Another 'not a classic but great match.'
-Prince Devitt vs Gedo - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Simple match layout but, the swearing/intensity of this match was lights out awesome.
-Finlay vs TAJIRI - Smash - Final Show (2012): A near-classic emotional and physically punishing bout. Fans of either guys need to watch this!
-Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk - Money in the Bank (2012): Great
-Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong - ROH Summer Heat Tour (Cincinnati 2014): Classic ROH title fight.
-Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet - PWG Battle of Los Angeles (2016): Great match! 12-14 minute barn burner
-Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestle Kingdom 13 (2019): Inoki Strong Style lives! Great match at least but, a near-classic to me.
Not a bad list so far...let's see what the 2nd half of 2019 has for us...Starting with Starrcade matches...
Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action-packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling!
Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): A madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match.
Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This was violent from the very start... Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all-time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match.
Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): This is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match.
Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): This is a classic match with a simple story and layout. They never go too complicated in the moves department and therefore never mess anything up. Then, you're riding on charisma and selling in order to get the match over with the fans. Here they truly excel. Flair is a given but, Luger at this time seemed to have even God on his side. Never was I a Lex fan until I saw him from this era. And, man! Did he have "it" for a few years? The physique and the power are on full display and it really seems like Ric is facing his replacement for the 90's in this match.
Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Masa Chono & Shinya Hashimoto (WAR 10/01/93): Ten minutes of solid ass-kicking. Hash (IWGP champ) gets on the mic before the bell and talks some trash that kicks off this intense sprint-fight. As much as I love a smooth wrestling match (like above), I love a rough non-cooperative slobber knocker just the same. All four guys use their simple offense and great selling to put on a near-classic match. Don't believe me? Watch for Tenryu's chops on Chono...that should get you going...
Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (FMW - Exploding Barbwire match - 09/01/96): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and the best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans.
Hayabusa vs TAKA Michinoku (FMW 11/16/96): Dives, counters, springboard moves, and big signature offense - it wasn't a classic but, dang! It was a great match. Right up there with the Joshi match.
Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (FMW 12/11/96): Kandori submission attempts and Kudome heart and head drops make this a good match just on paper. Here they throw in all kinds of teases & fake-outs. It made for a really exciting Joshi match (which I haven't seen in ages). Plus their timing and chemistry were fantastic. I would have to say this fits right alongside AJW stuff from '96 and probably better than many of the overlong bouts that Toyota had that year.
Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya) (AJPW 11/29/2011): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20-minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me.
Bennett & Taven vs Ciampa & Hanson (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This all kinds of chaos! I love this type of stuff A simple story of the bearded babyfaces getting revenge on the shit-talking, good looking heels, and babe. The energy was there, the pacing was there, and everything just clicked. Great match and a fantastic segment if you count the match before.
Alberto El Patron vs Roderick Strong (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This was a fantastic physical match between two veteran wrestlers. Alberto was going after Roddy's injured arm; hoping to secure the cross armbreaker. Roderick was trying to break down El Patron's body as only he can. The fans were psyched to see this match up and so was I. Alberto, Regal, and Danielson were two guys I would watch in the WWE so, it was great to see the former Dos Caras Jr. in a ring where he could show US fans what he's about. It was a shame they couldn't bring him in for more shows but, I'm glad we got this one. A great match, maybe a near-classic that was everything it needed to be.
From ROH - Conquest Tour 2015 - Hopkins MN
Roderick Strong vs Silas Young - This is a good match just on paper. You know they're going to hit hard and keep the pace up so, I was confident this bout would get things back on track. And I was not disappointed. This bout felt like a genuine struggle which is much appreciated in 2019. They had answers for each other's tricks & traps and I think that helped make this a great match. In fact, I wouldn't sneeze at anyone who would rate this **** 1/4. Great finish and MOTN thus far.
Briscoes vs War Machine - The tag team equivalent of the above match. Physical and surprisingly quick match. Now its not like the Young Bucks were facing off against Jay & Mark but, War Machine hustled like a couple of Young Vaders. Another great match where **** 1/4 would totally be acceptable.
Now for some that weren't covered on the blog:
Jun Akiyama vs Katsuyori Shibata (Wrestle -1 (not Mutoh) 08/04/05): A very stiff BattlARTS type of match. It was great although its no surprise that Shibata, who based his career on these types of bouts, is now retired. If you're a fan of either, really go watch this now...
Sabu vs Rob Van Dam (ECW Guilty as Charged 2000): A controversial choice since most folks on the PWO match discussion archive thought this was just "good" at best. It was perhaps their best single match with one another to me. In that regard, this match was superior to many similar move centric hardcore matches a few years later in ROH and certainly beyond. They did not go for overkill & empty their tanks and that IS why this is a great match. It felt like an athletic competition (in the ECW world) and not moves for moves sake.
Now for some I'd only written in my notebook but are ABSOLUTELY worth talking about now:
Miracle Violence Connection (Williams and Gordy) vs Misawa & Kawada (AJPW 12/06/91 RWTL Final Match): Holy crap is Gordy intense! The MVC gameplan is to divide and conquer. The Japanese team knows this and make frequent tags and hit the Americans high & low. The trick is to endure Miracle Violence's onslaught though...and what an onslaught it is! Near classic encounter with those little unexpected moments that make this era of AJPW so great.
Kurt Angle vs Yuji Nagata (TNA/NJPW Wrestle Kingdom II): Saw this around when it happened and thought it was great but not classic stuff. I re-watched this a couple of months ago and damn was I wrong! This was a freaking intense wrestling match. If you're down for guys working submissions and escapes and selling through facial expressions - this is a match for you. I will go on to say this was an extension of Inoki Strong Style and belongs in that upper echelon. I know more about Nagata now than 11 years ago and understand the nuances of this bout so, I really can appreciate this as puro as a combat sport. Classic match
Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008): I remember the hype for this match and the clips from Impact and the DVD ads and I thought this looked amazing. I was right...took me more than a decade to see it but, it was worth the wait. Like the above Nagata match, this was puro as combat sport. Perhaps even more so as this was during Angle's MMA training/Frank Trigg period, we have a hexagonal cage, and this was around UFC's break-through period of mainstream acceptance with their Ultimate Fighter show also on SPIKE. Anyhow, these two agreed to go stiff where it reminded me of Joe vs Kobashi for a moment or two. Seriously that lariat! Are you kidding me? Add that in with excellent build and pacing and we end up with a true classic and perhaps an all-time must-see classic encounter when you take into consideration their history and the build-up to this battle. This is certainly top tier for TNA and "puro" in America type matches as well as Inoki Strong Style in the 2000's.
Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries (TNA Slammiversary X - 2012): Well, hot damn! These guys still have it 8 years after their Final Battle classic. In fact, the similarities are uncanny...is this the same match just 8 years later? No...can't be...regardless they still brought the intensity and I cannot find any fault here. I loved this match and thought it was a classic especially for TNA fans.
Magnus (Nick Aldis) vs KAI (TNA/Wrestle-1 Global Impact 2014): This is for the TNA World title and I certainly had my reservations going into this. Thankfully, we get 15 minutes of simple snug wrestling. It felt very similar to WCW vs NJPW stuff in Japan. This was excellently paced, well worked with some stiffer than expected moves, and an emphatic finish. I truly can't find a fault with this match, great stuff.
Rush & Dragon Lee vs Briscoe Brothers (ROH TV Summer 2019): This was a PPV level match for free. Jay and Mark still have that crazy streak so this was all action - blood, chair assisted moves, double teams. Plus both teams have a personality which is something I think ROH does lack at this time. (I like Taven but, don't get what they're doing with him btw).A few more minutes and this would have been a classic but, this was a great match nonetheless. Look for this one somehow!
SO LET'S ORGANIZE THIS! What is the cream of the crop?
I think I'm going to go with an emotional pick and choose Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008) as the Best Match Watched. The other top 5 matches are classic matches with timeless moments etched into my brain and it took me a long time to rule them out as the top of the top. The Joe vs Angle match plays off my nostalgia from 2008 and watching TNA Impact every week. In that regard, I can legitimately say they are two of my favorites of the 2000's and to see them truly have the all-out war that they only showed hints of in 2006 was an unbelievable pay-off to me. The Nagata match with Kurt was a precursor to the Lockdown match and although that was a classic in its own right, it helped bolster the drama of the Joe match. I don't know if this was intentional or what but, it totally worked on me.
I think Tully vs Magnum is a known all-time classic and I don't know what one more person agreeing with that sentiment is going to do for its prestige. You know what I mean? It is required viewing without me saying so
I think Piper vs Valentine is a precursor to that match and for that reason should be on your must-watch list. I don't think it gets the love it deserves perhaps because people think of the WWF versions of the guys and think it can't be as intense as people say. I would leave it from the top spot just because its finish cannot match the Tully vs Magnum finish...not much can though!
The Schmidt vs Yukon and Martel vs Bockwinkel bouts are ones that I had never really heard of but, certainly deserve more recognition. I understand folks not wanting to go back to 1958 but, I really recommend watching pre-1970s wrestling at least a couple times every year. It gets harder and harder since we get further and further away from it...trust me. The AWA title match with Rick & Nick was one of those things I found online that I just wanted to explore as I'm always trying to find more good "wrestling" from them. I've seen damn near 80% of their ESPN show but, always want to see more of the era before they went out of business. Martel and Bock are two in particular that I was looking for and to see this title match was great...little did I know it would be a masterpiece.
All that being said, I go back to my emotional bias for the Joe vs Angle Lockdown fight being the reason I say it’s the Best Match I watched in 2019. I also think it’s probably an arguable match to consider a classic and an objective "better match" than those mentioned above. Thing is I'm not going to argue against that...The point is that the Lockdown match was ticked off every box for me...I was invested in the outcome, I was surprised and entertained, my 11-year-long expectations were exceeded, and I'm a fan of both wrestlers. So, I'm much happier giving some love for a match that many might overlook because of when it was and who it was wrestled for (TNA) than telling you something you already know like with the I Quit or Dog Collar match. OK explanation over Let's do the rest of the year award type things next post. Thanks for reading!
This is the second part in my light exploration into the final months of FMW 1996. This is a very junior heavy section with my review covering a commercial tape focusing on November & Decemeber.
W*ing Kanemura vs TAKA Michinoku (12/10): 11 minute good match and a fantastic example of prime era TAKA. The dude was throwing dropkicks from every angle and off everything. And of course its FMW so, you get chairs!
The Gladiator vs W*ing Kanemura (12/11, BAHU #43): Oh man this is an odd match but, has gotten some praise over the years. The oddness comes from Gladiator getting his leg stuck in the ropes during a botched dive. That would totally suck BUT he & W*ing play it off so well that you very nearly believe it was on purpose. It does go on a minute too long and it does become obvious there's no way they wanted this portion to last THIS long. Still! Awesome/Gladiator sells the heck out of it (legit leg injury prior so, its some of his better/best selling) and Kanemura focuses on the busted wheel trying to put the dominant gaijin away. So, it makes sense! Of course we get "awesome" offense from Gladiator and the never say die W*ing. The end result is a very good match and the finishing parts are so strong that you almost forget about the rope/leg stuff. Fast forward the rope bits and you'll have a blast.
Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (12/11): Best match of the tape thus far. Kandori submission attempts and Kudome heart and head drops makes this a good match just on paper. Here they throw in all kinds of teases & fake-outs. It made for a really exciting Joshi match (which I haven't seen in ages). Plus their timing and chemistry were fantastic. I would have to say this fits right alongside AJW stuff from '96 and probably better than many of the overlong bouts that Toyota had that year.
Hayabusa vs TAKA Michinoku (11/16, BAHU #31): The first Hayabusa match of the tape and its a doozy! He and TAKA have an NJPW Jr. style action match that shows the little promotions can stack up against the big boys. Dives, counters, springboard moves, and big signature offense - it wasn't a classic but, dang! It was a great match. Right up there with the Joshi match.
Great Sasuke vs Hayabusa (12/11): If the TAKA match was the warm-up then, this should be amazing! It certainly starts off that way but, the match becomes "my turn-your turn" in taking offense with no true sense of struggle. The bout was a lot of big moves while I would have preferred them trading kicks, running the ropes, or scrambling on the mat. It was a good match and maybe you'll get more out of it than me.
This was a pretty good tape. All the matches above BAHU has put in his top 100 matches of FMW history. Clearly the Kudome/Kandori and TAKA/Hayabusa bouts were the best but, the Gladiator/W*ing bout is worth watching too...especially if you find a file or video for the whole commercial tape like I did. Those 3 are totally worth the time if you're curious or needing an FMW/ECW style fix this fall
Thanks for reading!
One day I will get around to seeing all of the great FMW matches, I swear! The following entry is my attempt to cover FMW 1996 as best I can by searching for vids on the 'tube. From my experience, FMW videos tend to get taken down with some regularity or let's say there aren't a plethora of videos available like old AJPW or even W*ING.
So what I found and what I wanted to watch from '96 focuses on the later part of the year, August to December. The first collection of stuff is from the Commercial tape Funk Masters of Wrestling which is August & September. This is a really good tape. I just want to say that from the start. This video captures that late 90's harcore wrestling style that FMW and ECW championed.
BAHU is the master of FMW and I'm going to put his top 100 FMW rankings next to the applicable matches for reference. Our opinions differ on a couple matches but, I think that's good. You're getting 2 opinions on a match then with that you can decide for yourself if you want to see the bout. Sound good? I'll just review that bouts that I found worthwhile.
(I'm also going to abbreviate names where I can)
W*ing Kanemura, Bad Boy Hido & Hideki Hosaka vs Masato Tanaka, Nanjyo Hayato & Tetsuhiro Kuroda (Barbwire Street fight): JIP & clipped. This is edited but, this is a sweet way to start off the tape. Double & triple team moves, ladder stuff, and of course guys are tasting the wire. I can't say this is a great match but, its a blast to watch!
Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (Exploding Barbwire match 09/01)(BAHU RATING: #42): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans.
Terry Funk, Gladiator & Horace Boulder vs Tanaka, Kuroda & Nakagawa: JIP. This was a very good 6 man tornado tag match that had some nice double teams, saves, and all of that other good stuff you want in an FMW bout. Tanaka takes some real sickening bumps...one is probably the most dangerous Awesome bombs I've seen. This match, although partial, really encapsulates everything weird and exciting about the garbage wrestling scene of the late 90s. (Also see: Super Leather, Headhunters, & Oya vs Hayabusa, Tanaka, Kuroda, & Nakagawa's Barbwire bat & Money on a Pole elimination tornado tag match from this tape as well. FMW had successfully perfected the W*ING/IWA Japan style at this point.)
Terry Funk & Gladiator vs Hayabusa & Tanaka (BAHU RATING: #48): The story of Funk in FMW at this point (from what I can gather) is he's reformed the J-Tex Corp with Victor Quinones. Gladiator and other gaijin wrestlers (along with Oya) have joined the Funkster to take over and control Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling. Hayabusa and Tanaka aren't going to go along with that and have to fight for their promotion. This was the 2nd best match of the tape and was shown in full. There were lots of saves and exciting comebacks. It was scratching a greatness but, I only felt it was a very good match. It just seemed to lack enough of Tanaka's explosive offense for my taste...that's not to say he doesn't explode here! Still, we get all kinds of excitement post-match so, you really should check this out.
This was a very good tape especially with the classic 6 man deathmatch that all FMW/ECW fans need to see. I'll pick up with the Nov & Dec commercial tape next time.
Thanks for reading!
ROH Conquest Tour 2015 - Hopkins MN
Avari Davari vs Bobby Fish - OK match with some decent psychology and selling. There was bad weather so, I think this match was a little longer than it needed to be for anyone who was running late.
Romantic Touch vs Will Ferrara vs Beer City Bruiser vs Cheeseburger - Let's say you hadn't seen ROH since 2009 and then years later, this happened to be the first match you saw. I would not blame you for completely thinking they had ruined Ring of Honor. You've got a comedy character, a big fat guy, and a scrawny guy with a ROH dojo graduate. I skipped this one.
Michael Elgin vs Caprice Coleman - The first real match of the night. It would have been much better in the #2 slot but, perhaps they realized that not everyone had shown up and the above 4 man match was to kill more time. This was a fun 3/4th speed match with some nice moves.
Adam Page vs ACH - Former teammates square off. Neither guy is an absolute favorite but, both dudes have the potential to deliver a good match. So, I was pleasantly surprised with a very good to a perhaps great match. They kept the flashy flipping to a minimum and threw a load of mean chops, elbows, and lariats. One of ACH's clotheslines looked like he'd been studying AJPW tapes. Folks in attendance booed the finish but, I think it was more out of having fun rather than actual disappointment or anger. Match of the evening thus far.
Arik Cannon vs Danny Duggan - The local attraction match that kept the action going. Probably the best I've seen Cannon look and Duggan looks promising especially for ROH at this time.
ODB vs Truth Martini - A clear pee break match...I like ODB and am OK with Truth Martini (I never really cared for managers in ROH in general) so, this was fun. The most interesting part is that Corino (on commentary) says the hardest he was ever hit was by Jazz in ECW...and Corino has wrestled Kawada and Hashimoto! Sweet tidbit!
Roderick Strong vs Silas Young - This is a good match just on paper. You know they're going to hit hard and keep the pace up so, I was confident this bout would get things back on track. And I was not disappointed. This bout felt like a genuine struggle which is much appreciated in 2019. They had answers for each other's tricks & traps and I think that helped make this a great match. In fact, I wouldn't sneeze at anyone who would rate this **** 1/4. Great finish and MOTN thus far.
Briscoes vs War Machine - The tag team equivalent of the above match. Physical and surprisingly quick match. Now its not like the Young Bucks were facing off against Jay & Mark but, War Machine hustled like a couple of Young Vaders. Another great match where **** 1/4 would totally be acceptable.
Jay Lethal vs Kyle O'Reilly - A long TV title match that hearkens back to the 2000's ROH style. Unfortunately, it ends right when it starts getting phenomenal. In the olden days, they would have kept going and this would have been a classic title match. Ah well, ROH has a PPV schedule and they work toward those so, I can't bitch too much. What we get is really great and certainly hyped the fans in attendance. Fun segement after the match too...we ALMOST get an impromptu World Title match (again ROH may have done this back in the day and it certainly would have made this part of the show a classic ala PWG Giant Sized Annual #4 Danielson vs Generico). Still, the main event portion made up for the slow start of the show and paid some things off from earlier even if not ideally.
Overall, this was a very good B-show with 3-4 great matches. It does start kinda rough but, I really think that's a logistics issue rather than crappy booking or wrestling. Hey, you can always skip them. So, if you just watch ACH vs Page, Roddy vs Silas, the Tag match, and the Main Event - you will have a blast!