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