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NJPW You Might Have Missed: 1988 - Part 7


G. Badger

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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.

But first...

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!

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