Back with more 1985 AJPW goodness! Let's get going with April!
Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase (04/21 - aired 04/27): This from the Roy tapes as well. I needed to get some Stan Hansen in my life. This is a fine way to introduce him and Ted DiBiase into 1985. They make an excellent team (not my first time seeing them together) that has a different dynamic than the Brody or Gordy teams. Ted is more technical and has a calmer more calculated approach that makes this team more well rounded. Baba and Jumbo still team so well together with Baba coming in and making saves & giving Tsuruta breaks. Baba's tag utility is not given enough love. A great well paced and hard fought match. The finishing section is so organic and flawlessly executed. This bout probably isn't on anyone's lists but this is an example of wrestling done right.
Riki Choshu/Animal Hamaguchi vs Genichiro Tenryu/Takashi Ishikawa (04/21 - aired 04/27) Here's one where I wanted to include a Riki match without Jumbo as my sample from April would be slim otherwise. Anyway super happy I watched this. It is some excellent tag wrestling. One thing I haven't mentioned is how Choshu and co. have some Steiner Bros. type tag moves off the turnbuckles. More great action here...the feud is chugging along without losing steam.
Tenryu watching for a Riki sneak attack
Ric Flair v. Jumbo Tsuruta (NWA Title, 04/24/85): Long match like you'd expect but full of action. I am hesitant to watch Flair in Japan sometimes as there's a fear that there's going to be a lot of Figure Four work. This match we get just the right amount and have plenty of great action to fill up the majority of the title bout. I think if you were watching this live in '85, you'd rate it pretty well as it was pretty darn dramatic. Jumbo was really whooping on Flair. Of course we know Jumbo doesn't win the belt and that does hurt this a little as that glimmer of hope (what they are working to create live for fans) is lost when looking back at these big name title defenses. There's a little bit of "do I want to watch a long match that I essentially know the outcome for?" This one keeps the pace up and is intense and competitive so I was compelled to finish. This really was a great fight between two of the very best.
Now for a bit of storyline : On 04/24 Ashura Hara sneak attacks Tenryu before their tag match. Riki & Animal Hamaguchi start by attacking Hara. It's confusing but I think they maybe consider him a turn coat but he shows them that he's his own man by attacking Tenryu AND walking out on them. The match continues with Motoshi Okuma as Tenryu's partner. It's more of an angle than a match. This is a really crazy booking angle for AJ!
Jumbo Tsuruta/Genichiro Tenryu vs Riki Choshu/Animal Hamaguchi (05/17 aired 05/18): Very good match but lacking the nuclear intensity but it's an enjoyable bout with a good finish which adds a new little wrinkle to the feud.
Shoehi Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta/Tenryu v. Tiger Jeet Singh/Terry Gordy/Mario Milano (05/31/85): Fun match, Tenryu makes a hot tag to Baba if you can believe it Gordy is most impressive.
Road Warriors v. Takashi Ishikawa & Tarzan Goto (05/31/85): Don't blink or you'll miss it!But Tarzan Goto & Ishikawa so... yay!
Road Warriors v. Killer Khan/Masanobu Kurisu (06/02/85): Quick as hell...at least Khan was in for a few moments...Was going to skip these but they were so short it wasn't worth the fast forward!
Dynamite Kid/Davey Boy Smith v. Tiger Mask/Magic Dragon (06/02/85): Excellent Bulldogs match! No flubs, everything was in rhythm and the moves were exciting. Tiger Mask Misawa and Magic Dragon were really good opponents for them.
Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Animal Hamaguchi vs Jumbo Tsuruta/Genichiro Tenryu/Motoshi Okuma (06/02 aired 06/22): Absolutely crazy match in K-hall. I wouldn't expect anything less. A battle with an unexpected finish plus brawling after the bell. Riki and Tenryu blasting each other in the head stuff. Great shit!
Dynamite Kid/Davey Boy Smith v. Kuniaki Kobayashi/Shinichi Nakano (06/04/85): Another really good Bulldogs match! Nakano wasn't dominated like you might expect. Kuniaki's standing really made this an even match. He and Dynamite got in a flow that made me really want to see a singles match. I checked and there was one in '85 via handheld out there.
Jumbo Tsuruta v. Terry Gordy (Int'l Title, 06/04/85): Great match around 20 minutes. Lots of good action. Gordy is so underrated as a AJPW wrestler. He and Jumbo are just so evenly matched in size, athleticism and style. He might be my favorite mid 80's Jumbo opponent.
Dynamite Kid/Davey Boy Smith vs Tiger Mask/Toshiaki Kawada (06/05 - aired 06/15): jip but we get some replays at the end of the match showing what we missed. I wanted to find an early Kawada match and this'll do! Very fun stuff and has some really crazy Bulldog moves. You wanna see this one
Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Magic Dragon (Mask vs Hair) (06/05 - aired 06/15): jip, good, good stuff. If shown in full I'd bump it up I bet. This was so smart and economical. They get so much out of a simple set of moves because they were so well timed. They did the right stuff (including the finish).
Giant Baba v. Rusher Kimura (PWF Title, 06/05/85): Gotta watch one or two Baba matches per post and I'm not going to pass up Baba vs Rusher. This was good stuff too! Slower paced than much of what we've seen. Some of that is age but 1985 seems to be the year in AJPW where they are more about running the ropes and quick action than the slower more technical style of old. The very distinct ups and downs of a match aren't really there in most of the wrestling. The pace is much quicker so something like this stands out. And in fact they wrestle at a quick pace with more moves than I would have thought.
Jumbo Tsuruta/Tenyru v. Road Warriors (06/05/85): Tempted to call this a very good match. The Warriors had their selling boots on. We get a cheap finish (to protect everyone) but everything beforehand was surprisingly great.
Ashura Hara v. Haru Sonada (06/21/85): Quick match but wanted to see more Hara & Magic Dragon/Sonada. If you stumble upon this, check it out Magic Dragon wrestled as Haru Sonoda afterwards until his untimely death in 1987.
Kuniaki Kobayashi v. Tiger Mask (06/21/85): Oh yeah! A really awesome match..the match I knew they could have. A classic AJPW Junior match and if that's not enough Atsushi Onita comes out post match and gets into a tussle. I see this on Misawa compilations and it absolutely belongs there as an early (earliest?) classic for him. But this should also clue you into Kuniaki Kobayashi if you're not yet hip to his greatness.
Jumbo Tsuruta/Takashi Ishikawa v. Yoshiaki Yatsu/Higo Hamaguchi (06/21/85): Excellent pacing, excellent action and a really smart finish. There's very little to find fault with here. Worth noting, this is perhaps the first match in the AJPW Classics tapes/TV episodes to sorta indicate there's a feud with Riki & co. They did a good job avoiding the Choshu matches... very glad that we've got the original TV episodes.
Riki Choshu vs Genichiro Tenryu (06/21/85): This one I found online elsewhere pretty easily. And boy I'm glad I did! The fight was intense as could be and the older style that focuses on grinding holds and storytelling. Tenryu was aiming to injure Choshu's lariat arm whereas Riki was wearing his opponent to lock in the Sasorigatame (Scorpion Death lock). This match absolutely lays the groundwork for the classic singles matches of the 90's. We don't get a classic match because of an 80's ending but man alive this was absolutely going to be a classic and it had the vibe of an all time classic. Patient in its storytelling, physical and believable, it was a helluva match. Near classic on a technicality but this was classic puro if you dig what I'm sayin'.
Half way through and 1985 is awesome! And I know I'm missing really cool stuff in the interest of time & energy. As you can tell I watched quite a bit but it wasn't too far off the my plan. There were some really important inclusions like the Kawada match, getting some Stan Hansen in there and heck a Baba vs Rusher match for well roundedness etc.. I will have to stick to the plan a little better as I'm posting a bit later in the day (the next day technically) than I'd wanted. That should be a good indicator of how engrossing the year is so far. Variety of wrestlers, matches, match length and so on. Now that the weather is more comfortable it is much easier to watch chunks of wrestling. July and parts of August were just the pits.
Anyhow, thanks for reading folks! Until next time, stay safe!