Glad to be back watching FMW I think it is one of those promotions that might get lost in the sands of time. So, I'm always eager to bring it back to the surface in my little way. Just for reference:I'm using BAHU's best of 1998 matches and the FMW commercial tape Story of F vol. 3 - Best Bouts as my guide here. Do see my earlier posts using the FMW tags or just go back a couple pages for the big list of matches. If there's anything else I come across, I'm going to include that too. Honestly, I just want a reason to get back watching Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling!
Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06) - This was a fast paced and intense battle between foes. Gannosuke stabbing Tanaka was sickening (and great)! Everything looked especially vicious in this match - lariats, chair shots, DDTs, you name it. Some might find fault with prolonged or deep selling but, I think it can be explained away by two guys really wanting to murderize each other. I think everything show really reflects that psychology. This was a classic match to me. I was kinda on that fence like ****1/4+ area but, intensity and pace really go along way for me. I'm not one to have to tick off the "how did long did he sell it" when watching wrestling anymore. Its nice to see long term selling and really can elevate a match but, isn't necessary. That is something to keep in mind when going through all of these FMW matches actually.
Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13) - This match is notable as it takes place in the black ZEN FMW ring which if I understand it all was Onita's stable and freelance group/promotion. I'm thinking like Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring was to NOAH. This is also notable as there were zero weapons or tables used. This was a fantastic clean wrestling match of the company's top stars. It easily could have taken place in an NJ or AJ ring and you would not have known the difference. This was 30 minutes of each guy giving it their all whether it be strikes, joint locks, or slams. I would have liked to see the arm/leg work factor into the finish or be given some more attention later but, like above I'm not going to gripe. They didn't blow it off - it just wasn't the story they were telling. It was very reminiscent of later NJPW Jrs. in that regard but also going for longer bouts like AJPW was doing. So, in this "pure" FMW match they weren't going for one or the other but, simply showing that they could do that too. Like, "we can take the barbwire, explosions, chair shots BUT can also wrestle long well executed bouts. We're not Garbage Wrestling." I think this is sort of the same idea behind BJW Strong Style. I thought this was another classic match -great action, great execution, great intensity...it was fantastic.
Jinsei Shinzaki vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/21) - Jinsei is getting crafty against his nemesis by waiting to jump Gannouske as he exits the dressing room. It backfires as W*ING Kanemura is there for back-up and turns into a 2 on 1. Kanemura heads to the back after awhile since it's only a matter of time before Mister finished the Monk off. Or is it? Jinsei has to be legit hurt or dazed after the beating he took so, his fight to come back feels very real. I mean he's bleeding from the back of his head! Every bit of offense he can pull to slow down Gannosuke feels meaningful. Maybe I'm over-rating this but, it felt like another classic match. Much more on the story being told than just the action/intensity aspect. This was a top tier Jinsei singles match. You don't need to know too much about their past matches - just watch how Gannosuke mocks the praying powerbomb *all of the time* and you can understand why Shinzaki want to keep fighting.
Atsushi Onita vs Kodo Fuyuki (04/30) - Battle of the FMW leaders. This is a lumberjack match but, I don't recall that playing a big part in this. It was a good match but, I didn't think it was great. I appreciate Fuyuki as a wrestler much more than Onita. This is especially true following him from AJPW to SWS then WAR. He may not have been clocking classics like his contemporaries Misawa & Kawada but, the man put on great matches in that late 80's Tenryu vibe.
W*ING Kanemura vs Jinsei Shinzaki (04/30) Revenge on the monk perhaps? Team No Respect in full effect - lewd hand gestures & spitting on Jinsei for instance. They even had their own rudo referee! Anyhow, this is a 12 minute 3 act match capped off by a cool finish. There may be more nuances that I'm missing to make this a great match or a classic but, its quick, fun wrestling. Fans of either guy would be glad to check this out!
Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30) - Damn! What a match! Hayabusa was hitting everything on point but, what made this something special was Gannosuke's Kawada-level selling of the leg. He had to be legitimately hurt, right? But he wasn't out of the fight. He was dodging and blocking moves and went for the patented Gannosuke Clutch early on to try and wrap things up. He was more crafty than normal due to this injury. That's what really makes me appreciate Gannosuke more than I already do. He had the wherewithal to incorporate this pain/limitation into the match rather than hide it. Any complaints of sloppiness or botching that others may mention (there's one particular superplex type move) I think are unfounded. THIS is an instance of deep selling to where even IF it was a screw up, it appeared organic and natural with the ebb & flow of the match. The whole point of selling is to get across the point that the two or more wrestlers are engaged in a legitimate athletic competition which has legitimate consequences. And the point of doing that is to get the audience invested and engaged in what they're watching and they'll want to see more (and spend more). Well, this match did all of that perfectly. And to go back to my point about deep selling elevating a match - this is a prime example. That along with the excitement, the history of the competitors makes this is an all time classic FMW bout.
Man, I hope you get a chance to check these matches out. I'm planning on two more installments of FMW 1998 to do alongside my FIP Fridays just in case you're wondering.
Thank you as always for reading! I really appreciate it!