No one really seems to talk about the 1980's Japan anymore. That ship has sailed and people have moved on to other stuff, I suppose. A few years ago...maybe 5 years...I can't remember, NJPW, AJPW, and essentially UWF were being watched in depth and ranked by a good handful of folks. Pretty awesome stuff. I've got the lists saved on a USB drive. I'm not going to even try to recreate or resurrect the 80's projects with my Saturday posts but, I love the 80's Japan stuff. 1986-1988 NJPW is one of my favorite periods in puro. Even in posting these, I realize how much more I need to check out in 1987 NJPW.
Nobuhiko Takada & Akira Maeda vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka (03/20/87): Oh my goodness! This match was awesome! The UWF team was soooo stiff and the NJ team was just totally exciting yet, looked good taking a beating. Maeda wasn't going to kick somebody unless he could kick them in the head. This seriously was bell to bell fun. There were moments where the excitement ebbed but then bam! It flowed right back to where it was before. A true lesson in crowd control that frankly you only witness in the finest of wrestling matches. This stuff is timeless.
Takada & Maeda vs Mutoh & Koshinaka (03/26/87): Damn these guys can really go! In six days these guys delivered another must-see tag match. Surprisingly it's in a different vein than the earlier one although there are some similarities. Both teams just have great chemistry and put over each others moves so well. Fast paced action throughout & certainly the stuff tag fans like myself can never see enough of. Not as good as the first but, still really great stuff. The abrupt finish is the only thing holding it back from being an all time classic match. ****1/4+ type scenario.
Takada & Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki (05/25/87): I'll have to re-watch this as I was a bit tired but, still this was a very good stiff match. I didn't really appreciate Takada killing the momentum in this match with leg locks or arm-breakers when it wasn't really called for. Match was really something with the other 3 guys though as Maeda's perfectly OK with getting kicked in the head.
Takada vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (08/20/87): The '87 IWGP Jr title finals. This took a damn long time to warm up as it was Takada's usual stall job. He uses cross-arm breakers and wakigatame as rest holds! Come on! He's a good worker but doesn't know how to use his submission moves to build heat, he just throws them out there. Kobayashi is pretty cool here but sorta lets Takada go which hurts the match until the final stretch which is pretty top notch. Selling of damage would really help in this setting. ***1/2ish perhaps...
Takada & Maeda vs Fujiwara & Yamazaki (09/01/87): I felt this was better than the 5/25 match because Takada wasn't in too much to kill the momentum. His time killers were ok because he was in just for a little bit. Still the other 3 were much better and Fujiwara really brought his B+ game here especially with Maeda who continues to be one of my favorites because he strives for realism. Case in point he had a Kobashi mouse on his cheek...take your pick which head shot did that! The big downside with these UWF only matches is that the exciting aspects like double team moves and drama generators like saves are eschewed in the pursuit of a "pure" athletic competition. Re-watched: Saw this a day or two later with my Dad who's pretty critical & he really liked it. That's the confirmation I needed this is a damn good match. I wish the ending was better but, still good and more natural than I thought. Plus it helps push Yamazaki forward.
Takada & Yamazaki vs Keiichi Yamada & Shiro Koshinaka (10/25/87): I strongly feel that the best showcase for the UWF guys in NJPW is against regular workers. It lets them work their submission against "trained" sellers so the drama and importance is really played up. Also the UWF guys are really good pro-wrestlers too so they have no problem taking the pro moves as well as incorporate some of their own. This really helps the variety of the match. In any case the best guys to face the shooters are Fujinami, Koshinaka & Yamada. I also liked Mutoh in '87...anyhow...this was another really great match...which I've forgotten the ending of but, I just love how these guys work together
Koshinaka, Yamada & Yamazaki vs. Hiro Saito, Kintaro Hoshino & Kensuke Sasaki (12/03/87): This was an all action 6 man match. It really was a showcase for the stars. I cant say it was back and forth as 5 minutes were skipped ahead. Nonetheless this was a fun action packed match. I dont think there was much drama but, that doesn't take away from how enjoyable this was.