Satanico vs. Shiro Koshinaka, hair vs. hair, EMLL 7/30/84
One of the things I discovered while watching the New Japan set is that I hate Shiro Koshinaka. I don't know why this is, since he's never been a worker I've felt strongly about one way or the other. I think Dylan Waco may have referred to him as a blackhole and that's as good a description of him as any. It did pique my interest in this match, however. It's not a match I remember liking particularly much, but it's Satanico so there has to be something good about it...
Satanico cuts a promo at ringside before the bell. Despite being a rudo, he's entering this match against Samurai Shiro as a Mexican wrestler and thus there's a groundswell of support for him. Has there ever been a more charismatic worker than Satanico? Watch how he lays on the charm. It's so thick that you sense something is about to happen; something that will cement Satanico as a technico in this match.
Sure enough, Koshinaka jumps him straight away. This in itself is an interesting turn of events, since you don't often see Satanico laid out like that. It's a sign that Satanico is going to sell for most of the fall and more than likely lose, unless he reverses the momentum Koshinaka has generated. Watching it unfold, I wasn't about to give Koshinaka much credit. I figured so long as he brawled okay, Satanico's selling would take care of the rest. However, for a touring wrestler, I thought Koshinaka did a number of excellent things in this fall. For starters, he had the right sort of intensity. It really did seem like he was eager to get the jump on Satanico. He paced about during the match introductions and argued with referee Eddie Palau like a seasoned rudo. As soon as the formalities were over, he begun dishing out more punishment to Satanico, and the tone was set for a excellent fall. Above all, he displayed a surprisingly nuanced understanding of when to cut off Satanico's comebacks. Either he was well advised or studied things with his own eyes, because you don't often see a touring guy with this much understanding of how to work a lucha match.
Koshinaka chose to work the arm in this fall, which I guess is a universal way for workers from other countries to work together, but he set it up by stomping on the arm during the early heat segment and wrenching on it good and proper once Satanico was back in the ring. This gave Satanico plenty to sell, but the great thing about Satanico is that like Fujiwara he was such a great defensive wrestler that he was always looking to free himself from the hold. Instead of being meekly led around the ring by Koshinaka's wristlock, he pushed against Koshinaka's chin to try to straighten the arm. Koshinaka responded by moving with Satanico to the point where Satanico gave him his back. There was a nice armdrag takedown into a cruxific armbar, which led to a great spot where Satanico begun violently kneeing Koshinaka in the back. Koshinaka gave up the hold and was kneed in the head as he got to his feet, but he cut off the comeback with a kick to the cut and a nice elbow to the back of the head. Koshinaka went back to the armbar, but Satanico kicked him in the face repeatedly to tell him he'd had enough of all that business, and that was the only regrettable thing about the fall: that they left the mat to work the kind of rope exchanges that Koshinaka isn't particularly good at. Koshinaka took the fall with a backslide, whereas I would've much preferred a submission.
Nevertheless, the second fall was also excellent. Satanico took a time out between falls and was like a man possessed trying to fight his way back into this match, but Koshinaka had too much in the tank for Satanico to muscle his way onto offence. I was really impressed with the headbutt spots Koshinaka threw in during the early part of this fall. They were amusing comedy spots and well sold, but they also led to Koshinaka attacking the head via different means; first driving Satanico's skull into the turnbuckle and then coming off the top with a nice diving knee that left El Satanico convulsing. This was the part of the match where they try to open things up a bit and work towards the bigger moves. They weren't in any hurry, however, and the pacing here was exceptionally good. Koshinaka set Satanico up for the move he wanted (another knee from the top) by weakening his leg so he couldn't get up off the mat, but Satanico shifted the weight to his knee and managed to catch Koshinaka with a big slam to the mat. It was a simple back bump, but Koshinaka rolled out of the ring and sold it like the trigger spot that it was. Satanico was limping, but came motoring around to the other side of the ring to finally beat the shit out of Koshinaka, and to everyone's joy, Koshinaka bleed after a series of postings. Great selling from Koshinaka, and a total surprise given that his selling was one of the reasons I hated him so much on the New Japan set. Satanico took the fall with an awesome looking folding press and there was a great shot of him sitting back up on the mat, cognisant of having taken the fall but looking absolutely buggered. A very good fall. The theme surrounding Koshinaka's head was a nice touch.
Heading into the third fall, Satanico wasn't about to give Koshinaka any sort of a break. As soon as he caught his breath, he began giving Koshinaka a lesson in what a true hair match is all about. Palau kept trying to raise Satanico's hand and declare the second fall over, but these hair matches are all about an eye for an eye and all the things the bible teaches us not to do. And if there was ever a worker who wasn't about to turn the other cheek, it was El Satanico Daniel Lopez. He was relentless in this fall; hell bent on turning Koshinaka into a bloody pulp as a souvenir of his time in Mexico. Koshinaka fought back with a series of blows to Satanico's head, which sent Satanico into a frenzy at the sight of his own blood. Things were downright ugly now, the way a hair match should be. This was all about blood and guts; not being able to think straight and relying on instinct. Both guys tried to finish it and wound up selling more and more. Imagine my horror then when an amazing match like this ended with a DQ.
The finish was bullshit. The match ended with a foul from Koshinaka He tried to feign that it wasn't a foul, but it was as clear as day and Palau was completely within his rights to award the match to Satanico. Koshinaka protested vigorously, but he wasn't quite good enough to pull this off in a way that would make a satisfying post-match out of a cheap finish. The idea was that Koshinaka was trying to counter a bodyslam into a cradle and that Satanico had faked the foul, but the way Koshinaka fed his arm made it look like a clear and blatant foul. Satanico certainly appeared to be faking during the post-match antics, but whatever their intentions it was a bullshit finish to a fantastic match.
Bullshit finish aside, this was probably a top ten match for the 80s and likely the best match Koshinaka has ever had. Unfortunately, he didn't take anything he learnt in Mexico back to Japan, but a lot of workers claim that they don't like Mexico or that they can't understand the style, which may be the reason that most workers from other territories point blank suck in Mexico. Koshinaka, for whatever reason, embraced the opportunity to work in Mexico, and at a time when hair matches were still bloody brawls and there were workers like Satanico in their primes, he had a great match in the most visceral of lucha libre styles. And for that reason, I can't quite hate him as much as I did before.