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NintendoLogic

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About NintendoLogic

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  • Birthday 11/21/1981

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  1. NintendoLogic

    AEW Dynamite - January 22, 2020

    I checked out the Britt Baker promo, and yikes. Heel Baker might actually be worse than face Baker. She made Baron Corbin look like Superstar Billy Graham. A complete dynamo of anti-charisma.
  2. NintendoLogic

    Comments that don't warrant a thread - Part 4

    He did originally. But diacritics in thread titles make it impossible to access the threads for some reason.
  3. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Vader vs. Stan Hansen (NJPW, 2/10/90) There’s stiff, there’s ungodly stiff, and then there’s eye-poppingly stiff. Yes, this is the match where an errant blow from Hansen causes Vader’s eye to pop out of its socket, although the swelling makes it much less gruesome than it sounds. But even without that bit of body horror, this is the hoss fight to end all hoss fights. There’s also a surprising amount of depth, as both men do a great job of varying their offenses and the transitions are strong throughout. It was amusing how the crowd realized that a DCOR finish was all but inevitable, so they audibly groaned whenever the action spilled to the outside and popped huge when they made it back in the ring. King Kong vs. Godzilla has likely never been more closely approximated in a wrestling ring. ****1/4 Rock & Roll Express vs. Midnight Express (WCW, 2/25/90) The definitive Southern tag match, which fittingly enough involves the two definitive Southern tag teams. To avoid any confusion, allow me to elaborate on what I mean by a Southern tag. It begins with a lengthy babyface shine where the heels are continually one-upped and humiliated but not necessarily placed in peril. The heels eventually gain the advantage through underhanded means, leading to a single FIP section. The FIP makes the hot tag after a mistake by the heels gives him a path to his corner, and the finish comes a minute or two afterward. Not every match in the style strictly adheres to that formula, but this one follows it to a T. I think that the shine in MX matches tended to go quite a bit longer than was necessary to get the fans behind their opponents, and this match is no exception. The FIP section, on the other hand (on Morton, of course) truly has it all: blind tags, double-team maneuvers, referee distraction, Cornette interference, the works. Morton arguably recovered a bit too quickly to assist Gibson in the finish, but at least it wasn’t some elaborate extended finishing run. ****1/2 Mitsuharu Misawa/Akira Taue/Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/The Great Kabuki/Masanobu Fuchi (AJPW, 5/26/90) Misawa and his army vs. Jumbo and his army is probably the greatest feud of all time, and this is where it all began. The opening minutes are nondescript, but things pick up in a major way once Jumbo comes in and gives everybody a kick in the ass. After taking out Kobashi with a jumping knee, he explodes toward the Misawa team’s corner and cheapshots Misawa and Taue off the apron. Several minutes later, Misawa delivers a receipt when he elbows Jumbo off the apron, knocking him out for several minutes. When Jumbo recovers, he immediately goes on the warpath, leading to a pull-apart brawl. That’s about as great a “shit just got real” sequence as you’ll ever see. A good chunk of the match is dedicated to Kabuki and Fuchi working over Kobashi’s arm and leg, but it never feels like he’s in any real danger. Fuchi has yet to reach peak Fuchi in terms of viciousness, but he shows glimpses when he pummels Taue with mounted punches and drops Kobashi knee-first onto a ringside table. Speaking of Taue, he does little more than make saves for his team, so it’s probably for the best that he got moved to Jumbo’s side after Yatsu jumped to Tenryu’s SWS. The rapid-fire nearfalls at the end felt more suited for a workrate junior tag than a six-man grudge match, but the mix of out-of-control violence and classic tag structure is already in place. All that remained was for the supporting players to step up and match the intensity of Jumbo and Misawa. ****1/2 Stan Hansen vs. Steve Williams (AJPW, 6/5/90) I’m not at all a fan of Doc’s overall body of work. He could put together exciting finishing stretches, but the meat of his matches was usually duller than dishwater. Miracle Violence Connection tags might be the greatest cure for insomnia ever invented, a tragic waste of an such an awesome team name. This match is a different story, a gritty brawl with hardly any letdown. Replacing soporific half crabs and front facelocks with punches and knees is a winning formula in my book. I loved how whoever was getting worked over would constantly try to create separation and throw shots when his opponent closed the distance. This is one of the few matches where Hansen works primarily from underneath, and he’s surprisingly great at it. He never blows off selling to get his shit in, and all his reversals of momentum are earned and fleeting. Even the match-ending lariat felt like a desperate last gasp. Kudos to both men. ****1/4 Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (AJPW, 6/8/90) This is a match where the historical importance makes it impossible to evaluate strictly bell-to-bell, but the work in the ring mostly holds up. I love how Jumbo takes Misawa to the woodshed in the opening minutes. Then, having demonstrated to his satisfaction that this young punk isn’t in his league, he decides to take it home since he’s not getting paid by the hour. However, Misawa reverses the backdrop, allowing him to begin his initial comeback. See, wrestling works much better when wrestlers incur a penalty for going for their finishers too early. I also dug the contrast between Jumbo’s 80-style heavyweight offense and Misawa’s aerial attacks. One of the things that puts Jumbo in the GOAT conversation is his ability to make even basic offense seem devastating. When he connected with a lariat, it sounded like he was swinging a baseball bat. Misawa hasn’t made the complete transition to heavyweight style at this point, but he has added the elbow, which was established as Jumbo’s kryptonite in the six-man match two weeks previous, to his arsenal. However, both guys are mostly on cruise control in the middle part of the match, and I found Jumbo’s overuse of Irish whips tiresome. I actually wish they had spent more time on the mat, which is something I almost never think about a match. They pick things back up for a hot finish, which leads me to believe that they had the beginning and end worked out and were playing the middle by ear. I’ve always found Misawa’s stoicism more relatable than the over-the-top histrionics of most top wrestlers, but this is one occasion where I wish he had shown more emotion. Pinning Jumbo clean warrants a bigger reaction than “That was 3? Oh, cool.” Still, Kawada and Kobashi carrying Misawa on their shoulders while the crowd chants his name always puts a lump in my throat. ****3/4
  4. NintendoLogic

    WWE TV 01/20 - 01/26 Lost 10 pounds in two days AMA

    From PWInsider: On today's edition of "The Bump," it was announced that Xavier Woods, Johnny Gargano, NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley, Mustache Mountain and Todd Pettengill will all be part of the Sunday's Royal Rumble Watch Along. AEW might as well just pack it up now. WWE is bringing back the big guns.
  5. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    My (completely subjective) match rankings a quarter of the way through:
  6. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Jushin Liger vs. Naoki Sano (NJPW, 8/10/89) As wrestlers continually raise the bar for athleticism, spots that were once spectacular become increasingly mundane, so matches designed primary as highspot showcases almost never hold up decades after the fact. High-end psychology, on the other hand, always stands the test of time. This match, known for Liger’s arm selling, is a case in point. What makes it work is Liger’s realization that selling a limb is about more than simply registering damage when that limb is attacked (although he does plenty of that as well, perhaps most notably when he collapses and scrambles for the ropes after a simple wristlock). The injury colors everything he does, from his ring positioning (note how he turns the left side of his body away from Sano when locking up) to how he applies holds (like when he performs a chinlock with his right arm instead of his left and then switches to a figure-four headscissors). This match also shows that targeting a body part doesn’t have to be about softening the opponent up for a submission. For Sano, the purpose of the arm work is to cut off Liger’s comebacks and open him up for high-impact moves. Another important aspect of the match is the fact that almost none of the attempts at high-risk maneuvers are successful. Sano puts his legs up to block a Liger dive from the top rope, and Liger sidesteps a Sano tope. It’s only later in the match after Liger is completely worn down that Sano is able to hit a plancha. High flying moves can be great, but they’re much more rewarding when they’re earned rather than taken for granted. I suppose some of the opening matwork was pretty dry and Liger’s nearfalls in the closing stretch weren’t really believable, but I’d still put this up against any IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match before or since. ****3/4 Hart Foundation vs. Brain Busters (WWF, 8/28/89) This is usually regarded as one of the top WWF tag matches of the era, but I imagine that few if any fans rate it as highly as I do. I guess what it comes down to is that the structural elements strongly appeal to me even if the action isn’t necessarily top-shelf (Neidhart’s wristlocks in particular were atrocious). First of all, I’d rather watch a well-done heel-in-peril segment than standard babyface shine. Humiliating the heels and posing while they roll out of the ring to take a breather may pop the crowd, but it’s poor strategy. There’s a bit of that in this match, but Bret and Anvil mainly concentrate on working Arn and Tully over and preventing them from tagging out. Cutting the ring in half and isolating opponents was the Hart Foundation’s stock-in-trade as heels, and there’s no reason to think that they’d forget how to do it just because they’ve turned babyface. I always hate it when a wrestler’s skill set is determined entirely by their alignment, like a wrestler who’s a technical wizard as a face but can’t beat anybody on the mat as a heel. Two, the referee was relatively lenient in enforcing tag rules, so there were more run-ins and double-teams than you would typically see in a WWF tag match. Always remember: the one save rule sucks. Third, I’ve already said my piece about the FIP single-handedly turning the tide with one big move or counter, so I really liked that Neidhart needed a cheap shot from Bret to give him the necessary space. Tully being so eager to prevent the tag that he accidentally pushed Neidhart closer to his corner was a nice touch as well. Between this, Warrior/Rude, and the Rockers/Rougeaus six-man, Summerslam 1989 is a strong contender for best WWF PPV of the 80s. ****1/4 Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude (WWF, 8/28/89) Most people will tell you that Warrior’s best match was against Randy Savage at WM7, but think that match is only really a classic if you’re emotionally invested in the storyline with Macho Man and Elizabeth. I never was, so it never reached that level for me. I’ve always thought that this was a superior bell-to-bell match, if for no other reason than the fact that Warrior never talks to his hands. However, he does hit Rude with the championship belt in full view of the referee. But that’s OK because it leads to a classic rant from Jesse Ventura when Tony Schiavone makes a feeble attempt to justify the referee not calling for the DQ. That aside, Warrior’s offensive arsenal in this match is impressively varied. In addition to his usual repertoire of clotheslines and gorilla presses, he busts out multiple suplex and powerslam variations, a double axehandle from the top rope, Mongolian chops, and the same inverted atomic drop every Rude opponent does. Rude takes some big boy bumps to put all this over, and he’s no slouch in the offensive department either. Even his camel clutch and sleeper can’t be called restholds because there’s constant motion and struggle in the application. I have to say, a good amount of the offense in this match seems more appropriate for 90s All Japan than 80s WWF. Not only does Rude come dangerously close to inventing the ganso bomb, Warrior hits a German suplex off the second rope. Overall, this was a fast-paced 80s bombfest that left me thoroughly sports entertained. Warrior really should’ve been disqualified, though. ****1/2 Stan Hansen/Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW, 12/6/89) Yatsu comes into this match nursing some kind of head injury, and he’s wearing headgear that has the unfortunate effect of making him resemble Cartman in the Special Olympics. With Hansen as an opponent, you can be certain that the headgear will be removed eventually. For the first ten minutes or so of this match, I was certain that I would end up rating it above the 1988 RWTL final, which I didn’t expect at all before I began this project. The two teams are more evenly matched than in the previous year, and they both have better chemistry with each other as reflected by their teamwork. In addition, the heat on Tenryu provides more of a clear direction. Sadly, the eventual heat segment on Yatsu and the subsequent one on Jumbo are both bogged down by excessive length. I mean, you can only stomp someone in the head for so long before it stops being interesting. Things thankfully pick back up after Yatsu reenters the fray with his head taped up, and his bulldog on Hansen on the concrete is a holy-shit moment. And unlike many high-profile All Japan matches, the outcome is largely in doubt until the very end. Tenryu is a force of nature throughout, as he seemingly doesn’t allow a single pin or tag attempt to go uncontested. If this were about five minutes shorter, it’d probably be the best match of the 80s bar none. As it is, it’s in the upper echelon. ****3/4 Bull Power vs. Otto Wanz (CWA, 12/22/89) That’s a lot of beef in the ring. Bull Power, of course, is Vader, and his offense was well on the way to being fully developed at this point. We see rabbit punches, clubbing blows, backfists, and running tackles. He also performs a tackle off the top rope and even does a sunset flip(!) at one point. For the most part, though, this is about as minimalist as it gets, as the action consists mainly of clubbering and a few restholds. The rhythm is also far more stop-start than in a typical American or Japanese match due largely to the round system and the use of ten-counts on knockdowns. If you can look past that, this definitely has the aura of a world title fight, and the Rocky II-style finish felt appropriate given all the punishment they had inflicted on each other. And both guys bleed, possibly hardway. Sometimes, that’s all you need. ****1/4
  7. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (WCW, 2/20/89) Anything you can say about Flair/Steamboat has been said several times over at this point, so I’ll just say that this is basically a perfect one-fall NWA-style tittle match. In fact, given the abbreviated length, it’s almost like a title match on fast-forward. None of the offense would be considered cutting-edge even by 1989 standards, but it still feels like an epic championship bout due to the effort and conviction behind everything. In particular, all the chops thrown sound like gunfire. One of my favorite aspects of Flair title defenses is his ability to play to his opponent’s strengths in the opening minutes. Against a technician like Steamboat, he gets schooled on the mat. Against someone like Lex Luger, he gets overpowered. Against a Ron Garvin, he gets overwhelmed by chops. It’s like he’s a jack of all trades and master of none, but he’s so full of himself that he wants to show that he can beat his opponents at their own game and pays the price. In most longer Flair matches, the leg work culminating in the figure-four is a time sink that isn’t really paid off in a satisfying way. That sort of thing is kept to a minimum here due to the shorter length, which works to the match’s advantage. Instead, Flair focuses on chops, suplexes, and underhanded tactics like pin attempts with his feet on the ropes. It’s kind of amusing how you can practically feel the air sucked out of the building after the ref bump. The crowd clearly expects a Dusty finish or some other kind of screwjob, so the pop when Steamboat is declared the winner is one of genuine elation and not just a Pavlovian reaction to a babyface triumph. It’s also interesting to compare this match to Savage/Steamboat at WM3. If you didn’t already know going in, you most likely wouldn’t be able to tell which match was rehearsed beforehand and which one was called on the fly. Steamboat could make the planned look spontaneous and the unplanned look as precise as clockwork. He really was on another level as a worker. ****3/4 Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (WCW, 4/2/89) If such a thing as a universal wrestling canon exists, this match would undoubtedly be a part of it. As such, I would imagine that every serious wrestling fan has seen and has an opinion on it. I’ve tended to go back and forth between whether this or Chi-Town Rumble is my favorite match of the trilogy (with Wrestlewar a distant third). When I’ve gravitated toward the Rumble match, it was because I thought it was tighter and less bloated, due largely to my aversion for matches that go longer than 30 minutes. But now, I can’t deny that the story told in the Clash match is far richer and more rewarding. In fact, this is one of the few long matches I would say wouldn’t significantly benefit from going shorter. I really like how Flair keeps going for pin attempts when he’s in an advantageous position. After all, why would you let a guy off the mat just because he lifted his shoulder up? If nothing else, you’re forcing him to expend energy by kicking out repeatedly. It’s something I usually just don’t think about, but when I see this, I think “Hey, why doesn’t everybody do that?” Whatever flaws this match has are common to all long Flair matches. Some of the spots are pretty repetitive, but that can’t be helped when you’re going nearly an hour and calling it in the ring. Also, the use of extended submission holds is a bit of an anachronism. You can’t call the figure-four a resthold since they’re clearly not resting in it, but they do sit in it for an unrealistically long time. But that’s a reflection of fans in the pre-UFC era not being educated about submissions. And those issues are hardly worth getting worked up over when a match goes 56 minutes and never drags. Most matches that are half as long aren’t paced nearly as well. And I appreciated how all the leg work was paid off at the end when Steamboat’s leg buckled. I’m a strong advocate of Chekov’s Gun, and body part work in wrestling doesn’t pay off nearly as often as it should. One final note of interest: they subtly foreshadow Terry Funk coming back to challenge Flair several times throughout the match. They never beat you over the head with it, but it’s a pretty cool Easter egg to go back and discover. ****3/4 Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu (AJPW, 6/5/89) When people speak of innovation in wrestling, they usually refer to spots or gimmicks. What Jumbo and Tenryu did here was innovate a completely new style of working a match. The Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid matches are frequently referred to as a series that broke the mold, but what is often overlooked is that the pacing and structure were just as revolutionary as the moves. In a similar vein, none of the spots here are new, but the way they combined mat wrestling, brawling, complex strike-based exchanges, and learned psychology while working a lengthy title match at the pace of a Choshu-style sprint was pretty well unprecedented. I liked how Tenryu would modify a kneebar to turn it into a pinning predicament one moment and simply punch Jumbo’s knee the next. You can't expect a first draft to be perfect, so there are some kinks to be worked out. For one thing, there are a few instances where they release holds for no real reason other than it was time to move on to the next spot. Also, I thought they overused feet on the ropes to break up pins. But those only stand out as flaws relative to the classic Triple Crown matches of the 90s. If the Flair/Steamboat matches were largely a tribute to wrestling’s past, this provides a glimpse at its future. While the Four Corners would go on to expand upon and refine the blueprint provided here, Jumbo and Tenryu truly paved the way. ****3/4 Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat (WCW, 7/23/89) Luger threatening to walk out unless the no-DQ stipulation was waived is the best kind of bait and switch because the resulting match is far better than a no-DQ Luger/Steamboat match likely would have been. And it’s not like anyone who hoped to see a bloody brawl was shortchanged because Flair/Funk more than delivered on that front. Luger may have been lazy and useless in the later part of his career, but he had his working boots on here. This match is constant action and motion with Luger really laying in his clotheslines and Steamboat his chops. Luger yelling at Tommy Young to count faster immediately followed by Young providing a fast count on a Steamboat rollup was pure chef’s kiss. Young preventing Steamboat from throwing a punch followed by Luger punching Steamboat while he was restrained was too reminiscent of a Mexican rudo ref spot for my liking, but they made up for it when Luger threatened Young shortly afterward. The guy did you a favor, albeit inadvertently, and that’s how you repay him? More than anything, this match shows that wrestling doesn’t have to be rocket science. Have a simple but smart structure in place, lay your shit in, and keep things moving and you’ll hit the mark every time. ****1/2 Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (WCW, 7/23/89) I’ve always thought this was far superior to their I Quit match. But then, I’ve never really cared for the I Quit gimmick. As far as I’m concerned, if you want to have a brawl, just brawl. There’s no need to constantly break up the action with one wrestler yelling “SAY IT!” followed by the other wrestler yelling “NOOOOOOO~!” and then the first wrestler hitting the second in the head with the microphone. Here, all the violence is served straight with no gimmick chaser. Between terrorizing Tommy Young, trying to pick a fight with seemingly every fan in the front row, and attempting to piledrive Flair on the concrete, Funk is at his psychotic best. In the hands of a lesser talent (which is to say, virtually every other wrestler who ever lived), selling a piledriver by spinning around like Curly from the Three Stooges and trying to crawl out of the arena on his hands and knees would take the edge off a supposed top heel. But Funk carries such an air of malice about him that his comedic mannerisms serve to make him even more sinister. For Flair, this match is another bullet point in his candidacy for GOAT. Being able to go from NWA-style heel champion to Sammartino-esque fighting babyface champion without missing a beat shows tremendous versatility. Also, this is about as far from a Flair formula match as you can get. Even signature spots like the face-first flop and the flip over the turnbuckle are entirely absent. And it’s not simply due to him working babyface, because he used them as sympathy spots in his Starrcade match with Vader. I was on the fence over whether I could give this the full five, but then I noticed something in the ending sequence that put it over the top for me. When Funk reversed the figure-four into a small package, Flair grabbed Funk’s left leg to prevent him from hooking both legs to complete the move and allow Flair to reverse into a small package of his own for the win. I love subtle details that make wrestling seem like an actual sport, even if they fly over the heads of the fans in the cheap seats. I rate this as the best brawl of the 80s, which is no mean feat considering it was a decade full of awesome brawls. *****
  8. NintendoLogic

    AEW Dynamite - January 15, 2020

    Honestly, penciling in Scurll as the Dark Order's higher power without having him locked in or having a suitable backup plan in case it fell through is pretty bush-league. Good on Tony for taking control, because Omega and the Bucks don't seem to be ready for prime time as bookers.
  9. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Lex Luger/Barry Windham vs. Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard (NWA, 3/27/88) This is on the short list of greatest sub-10-minute matches in history, a tag match stripped down to its essential elements. No initial feeling out or stalling, just two teams going at it with all guns blazing. What made Arn and Tully such a great tag team is that they realized that true suspense comes not from the damage inflicted on the FIP but from his struggle to make the tag. In most classic Japanese tags, the guy getting worked over is usually successful on his first attempt to tag out, but he at least quickly bursts over to his corner to minimize the suspension of disbelief necessary. The tendency in most modern matches for the FIP to hit one big move or counter and then slowly crawl to his corner just feels blatantly phony and scripted. And don’t even get me started on simultaneous tags. By contrast, when Arn and Tully work someone over, the FIP (Windham in this case) constantly fends them off and tries to make it to his corner, but they always cut him off at the last moment-that is, until they don’t. Speaking of Windham, it should be clear by now that I mark out for spots with a real sports feel, and Windham taking advantage of his height to fall toward his corner for the hot tag is a prime example. With all that said, this match wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the incredible sustained crowd heat. I usually have enough tunnel vision to be able to focus on the action in the ring without the audience affecting me one way or another, but when the crowd is this hot for this long, it can’t help but have an impact on the viewer. ****1/2 Stan Hansen vs. Genichiro Tenryu (AJPW, 7/27/88) This might be the single greatest ass-kicking performance of Hansen’s career, which is saying something considering it’s Hansen we’re talking about. A lot of the time when a wrestler jumps his opponent before the bell, we're supposed to just accept the other guy not defending himself as creative license. In this case, Tenryu is being swarmed on the way to the ring, so it’s actually believable that he wouldn’t see Hansen coming or be able to react if he did. Once the bell rings, Hansen employs every punch, kick, elbow, and knee in his arsenal to beat Tenryu within an inch of his life. As I said earlier, I tend to zone out when beatdowns go too long, but Hansen’s attacks are varied enough and the hope spots are frequent enough to prevent it from becoming tedious. Just as importantly for me, it’s all strikes and impact moves with no chinlocks or bearhugs or the like, making it feel more like a real-life assault than a pro wrestling heat segment. This match is actually less one-sided than I remembered it being, and the transition to Tenryu’s comeback is quite brilliant. After Hansen signals for the lariat, Tenryu catches him coming in with a knee to the gut like he was countering Bald Bull’s bull charge in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. From that point on, Hansen’s ribs are his Achilles’ heel, which makes sense. After all, even monsters need oxygen, and if your ribs are damaged, the act of breathing is so painful that it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. I don’t really care for most of Hansen’s early-to-mid 80s work due to him not being a very giving seller unless he was in the ring with the guy who was signing his checks. But his selling here is impeccable, and the vulnerability adds another dimension to his character that makes his work much more compelling. As for the ending-yeah, it sucks. But it’s actually significantly less awful than most 80s Japanese finishes. I have no idea how audiences in Japan were able to tolerate this crap for as long as they did. Thank God for the UWF. ****1/4 Masa Saito/Riki Choshu/Super Strong Machine/Kuniaki Kobayashi/Hiro Saito vs. Tatsumi Fujinami/Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Kengo Kimura/Shiro Koshinaka/Keiichi Yamada (NJPW, 9/12/88) This is a career performance from Fujinami. He usually comes across as skilled or tough, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look as dangerous as he does here. Seeing him destroy fools with dragon backbreakers and dragon sleepers rather than catching them off guard with leg roll clutches is a bit of a shock. But then, there’s good reason for him to be pissed considering who he’s up against. In an elimination tag the previous year (which I haven’t been able to track down, unfortunately), Masa Saito busted Fujinami open by ramming him into an exposed turnbuckle and went out his way to torture Fujinami in the closing stretch. That history is paid off when Fujinami ends up alone against Choshu and Saito. While Fujinami is fighting Choshu, you can see Saito removing the padding from his team’s corner in the background. They end up botching Choshu’s elimination, but they do a good job of covering for it. Once it’s down to a one-on-one situation, Saito tries to make history repeat himself, but Fujinami turns the tables and Saito is the one who gets busted open. Fujinami pummeling a bloody Saito is harrowing stuff, and the ending with Fujinami accidentally eliminating himself is a total gut punch in the best way. Overall, this match has the opposite problem as the 8/19/87 elimination tag. Rather than being too compressed, it’s too bloated. It's practically impossible to have dead time in a match like this, so it's never boring, but there are stretches that feel rather aimless. Seeing a pre-Liger Yamada is pretty cool, but I absolutely hated how he threw everything but the kitchen sink at Kobayashi only for Kobayashi to get a pin off a rollup. If you combined the best elements of this and 8/19/87, you’d have an indisputable five-star classic. As it is, we have two somewhat flawed but still awesome matches. ****1/2 El Dandy vs. Pirata Morgan (EMLL, 9/23/88) Among American fans, El Dandy is remembered mainly as a punchline in a Bret Hart promo. That’s unfortunate, because in his prime, he was one of the greatest technical wrestlers who ever lived. You shouldn’t expect much technical wrestling in an 80s hair match, though, especially when a psychopath like Pirata Morgan is the opponent. Morgan’s punches are Memphis-caliber, and he nails Dandy in the throat with a clothesline that would make Dynamite Kid wince. Biting Dandy’s bloody forehead and spitting the blood into the air like Kabuki mist is about as ghoulish as pre-FMW wrestling gets. I’ve seen people question Morgan repeatedly pinning Dandy only to pick him back up at two, but I thought it was perfect heeling. He’s such a psycho that he’d rather keep torturing his opponent than take the win in a high-stakes hair match, which makes you want to see him get his comeuppance that much more. All the bullshit with the rudo referee cutting off Dandy’s comebacks by preventing him from throwing punches annoyed the hell out of me, but at least it was paid off nicely when Dandy made his comeback with a clothesline. There was also a cool moment in the third fall when Dandy took advantage of the referee being on the outside of the ring by punching Morgan in the face. Dandy was known as one of the first luchadores to study NJPW and UWF tapes and try to incorporate what he saw into lucha, and you can see the New Japan junior influence with his diving headbutts and German suplex. There wasn’t much in the way of long-term selling in the third fall, but I’m willing to accept that as part of the style as long as the fall isn’t absurdly long. In all, a classic lucha bloodbath. ****1/2 Stan Hansen/Terry Gordy vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW, 12/16/88) Man, Kawada in leopard print tights doing high-flying junior spots has to be the epitome of early installment weirdness. So I have to say that I was surprisingly underwhelmed by this match this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an all-time classic. But this was one of the matches I figured was an absolute lock for five stars at the beginning of this project, and it didn’t quite reach that level for me. The main problem is that it felt like a tale of two matches. For the first ten minutes or so, there was plenty of action and stiffness but not a whole lot of direction. Things really picked up once Hansen broke up a Kawada German suplex by kicking his leg out of his leg. From that point on, Hansen and Gordy added strategy to their violence. When they weren’t double-teaming Tenryu, the illegal man was doing more damage to Kawada’s leg on the outside. “Wrestler fighting against impossible odds after his partner has been taken out” is one of my favorite All Japan tag wrestling tropes, and Tenryu’s work when fighting from underneath was virtually flawless. Even then, there were a few off notes. There’s a spot near the end where Gordy was just kind of chilling in the corner for a bit before breaking up a Tenryu powerbomb and hitting one of his own. It came across like he was waiting to hit his spot rather than reacting like someone would in an actual contest. Also, I thought Hansen recovered a bit too quickly from Tenryu’s powerbomb. He redeems himself with the match-ending lariat, which is brutal even by Hansen standards. I hate to sound nitpicky about such an obviously great match, especially since the last half is transcendent stuff. I just thought it took too long to get there. ****3/4
  10. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Riki Choshu vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara (NJPW, 6/9/87) Fujiwara is best known as one of the pioneers of shoot style (in fact, the Fujiwara armbar is named after him), but this is more Memphis than UWF. In 1987, the main feud in New Japan was New vs. Now, with Fujiwara on Team OG and Choshu on Team New Jack. In this match, the two mix classic brawling with suplexes and submissions, making it feel like a no-holds-barred martial arts contest. Fujiwara has the greatest headbutt of all time, and he employs it liberally throughout this match. But more importantly, he’s responsible for tons of subtle moments that make this more than a garden-variety brawl. Like registering the damage from Choshu’s kicks but completely no-selling his punches to the head (like the Headshrinkers, he has a rock-hard skull in kayfabe). And grabbing Choshu’s leg to try to prevent him from stepping over and completing the scorpion deathlock. And the fabulous shit-eating grin on his face when he reverses a suplex attempt into his namesake armbar. And selling Choshu’s lariats by crumpling like a boxer who’s been knocked out rather than pro wrestling-style bumping. A final nifty element comes from Choshu at the end: he refuses to pin Fujiwara and chooses to win by knockout, as if to say “I’ve got your shoot style right here.” ****3/4 Tatsumi Fujinami/Riki Choshu/Akira Maeda/Kengo Kimura/Super Strong Machine vs. Antonio Inoki/Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Seiji Sakaguchi/Kantaro Hoshino/Keiji Mutoh (NJPW, 8/19/87) My favorite aspect of 80s New Japan is the use of elimination tag matches to settle scores between factions. Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, or being thrown out of the ring, so it’s like a cross between a Survivor Series match and the Royal Rumble. Not only do the ring-outs add an additional dramatic wrinkle, they allow for believable eliminations of wrestlers you would never expect to get pinned or submit (*coughInokicough*). This is the climax of the New vs. Now feud, and it has everything you would ever want from this kind of match. The star power is off the charts, there’s not a shred of downtime, and there are plenty of dramatic eliminations and near-eliminations. There’s even some comedy revolving around Fujiwara’s exceptionally hard head. Maeda countering an Inoki flying headscissors by falling out of the ring with Inoki on his shoulders was the highlight of the match for me. When a wrestler, especially a heavy hitter like Maeda, is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his team, it really shows how high the stakes are. If there is a significant flaw, it’s that the action is actually a bit too fast for anything to have room to breathe. Also, any suspense over the outcome was pretty well gone after Fujiwara’s elimination. Mutoh struggling valiantly against impossible odds was cool, but I would have liked to have seen him get a fluke ring-out elimination to make it less of a foregone conclusion. Choshu inciting a brawl between the eliminated members while Fujinami finished off Mutoh was almost as good, though. ****3/4 Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu (AJPW, 8/31/87) After Choshu returned to New Japan in early 1987, Baba decided to split up the Jumbo/Tenryu tag team and have them feud with each other. This is their first match of note against each other, and it’s a doozy. The opening minutes have a real “Mega Powers explode” feel, as neither guy wants to risk giving the advantage to his former partner turned rival. Interestingly, Tenryu seems to want to keep things on the mat while Jumbo wants to bash and bang, which is an inversion of what you would expect from the two. Tenryu isn’t the slickest mat worker, but the effort is there. The standout moment for me was when Jumbo was so enraged by Tenryu using his jumping knee that he really ramped up the violence, working Tenryu over with knees, stomps, even punches. There was quite a bit of sloppiness down the stretch, most notably on the crossbody spot that sent both of them to the outside. And the psychology of the ending seemed confused. While on the outside, Tenryu did a shinbreaker onto a table, hindering Jumbo from returning to the ring. I’m pretty sure the idea was that he was capitalizing on the injury to Jumbo’s right knee, which had run into an exposed turnbuckle earlier in the match. The only problem is that Tenryu targeted the left leg with the shinbreaker. I suspect that targeting the left side of the body was just too ingrained in his muscle memory. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Still, the crowd heat and magnitude of the personalities involved are enough to overcome any hiccups in execution. A worthy first chapter in their legendary rivalry. ****1/4 Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Glamour Girls (WWF, 11/24/87) A classic women’s tag match in 80s WWF? Believe it. I tend to gravitate toward matches with style contrasts, and I love the contrast between the high-flying joshi team and the more conventional Southern-style heel tactics of the Glamour Girls. The match adheres closely to the traditional tag formula, but the action elevates it above all but the most high-end American tag matches of the period. With the way they fly off the ropes and bridge out of pins, the JBAs make even the most exciting American tag teams look slow and plodding. And Kai and Martin are no slouches when it comes to offense, busting out powerbombs and Gory specials to go along with their hair mares and womb stomps. The main thing that detracted from my enjoyment was the commentary, with Nick Bockwinkel doing his best Larry Zbyszko impression in burying the JBAs at every opportunity. Setting that aside, when you have a WWF crowd rocking for a women’s match, you know you’re doing something. ****1/4 Jumbo Tsuruta/The Great Kabuki/Takashi Ishikawa vs. Ashura Hara/Toshiaki Kawada/Samson Fuyuki (AJPW, 3/11/88) This is the spiritual predecessor to the Jumbo/Misawa and NJPW/WAR feuds. It isn’t nearly as epic as later six-mans, but there’s still boatloads of stiffness, hatred, cheap shots, chair-swinging, and all the other things that make life worth living. The bulk of the match consists of Jumbo’s team working over Fuyuki, with a jaw-dropping punch combo from Kabuki being a particular highlight. Jumbo is by far the biggest star in this match, so his interactions with his opponents set the tone. He gives them enough space to show fire and fight back, but he also doesn’t hesitate in bringing them back down to earth and reminding them that he’s the ace. His interactions with Hara are especially fascinating. Hara is too high up in the promotional hierarchy for Jumbo to simply manhandle but not high enough to confront Jumbo as an equal, so Jumbo mostly avoids engaging him directly and limits himself to holding Hara back when he tries to break up pins and submissions. Things go off the rails a bit with all the nearfalls in the finishing stretch, but everything before then is golden. ****1/4
  11. NintendoLogic

    WWE TV 1/6/20-1/12/20: At least 2019 is finally over

    For Pete's sake, Cena is not one of the three greatest mic workers of all time or even in WWE history. He's had his moments to be sure, but his actively bad promos far outnumber his great ones.
  12. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Glad you like my selections so far. And yeah, I find Khan's career incredibly fascinating. He worked seemingly everywhere and had classic matches in a lot of places, but he also had a lot of stinkers. Khan/Andre in the WWF vs. NJPW is like Rude/Chono in WCW vs. NJPW. He probably has a few hidden gems on his resume. The Segunda Caida guys should do a Complete and Accurate for him. Midnight Rockers vs. Buddy Rose/Doug Somers (AWA, 8/30/86) I think that most people would agree that watching several epic matches in succession can be incredibly draining. I know I’ve felt that way a few times over the course of this project. This match had the opposite effect: after I watched it, I was so pumped up that I couldn’t wait to get to the next match. It’s a double-FIP tag match, and it’s an absolute clinic in tag team wrestling. The funny thing is, if you tried to predict the career trajectories of the Rockers based solely on this match, you’d probably guess that Jannetty would end up as the all-time legend and Michaels would be the answer to a trivia question. Shawn's selling is world-class, but Marty has more to offer in terms of offense and fire when working from underneath, making him the more complete wrestler at this point. With that said, Rose and Somers working Michaels over is the greatest FIP section I’ve ever seen in an American tag match and possibly any tag match period. Everything from the initial setup (Somers rams Michaels into the turnbuckle while the referee is admonishing Rose) to the eventual hot tag is absolutely flawless. Rose and Somers are a well-oiled machine, landing cheap shots every time the referee’s back is turned and drawing insane heat in the process. Somers walking up to Michaels and pulling his hand away when he was inches away from tagging out is brilliant heeling. It’s unfortunate that this was the midpoint of the feud rather than the blowoff, because if it had a proper finish, it would be far and away the greatest US tag match of all time. It still might be. ****3/4 Nick Bockwinkel vs. Curt Hennig (AWA, 11/21/86) To a large extent, this is a match I find much easier to appreciate than enjoy. 70s-style matwork will never appeal to me viscerally the way peak King’s Road and high-end 80s brawls do, but if I were evaluating this as an achievement relative to the degree of difficulty involved, it would be five stars no doubt. After all, a one-fall 60-minute time-limit draw may be the most difficult kind of match to execute well. You have to work at a reasonably fast clip without burning yourself out too soon, wrestle logically without being repetitive, and provide enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged without peaking too early and having the end come across as anticlimactic. And unlike in 2/3 falls and Iron Man matches, you don’t have the luxury of additional falls as a means of building drama and providing a breather. On that level, I’m blown away by what Hennig and Bockwinkel accomplished. From a purely subjective entertainment standpoint, though, there were parts of the match that fell flat for me. To be sure, the first half hour or so is physical chess at its absolute finest. All the textbook holds and counters are employed logically, and everything builds off what came before. One sequence in particular stands out. Hennig escapes a toehold by punching Bockwinkel’s injured arm and then drops a knee on the arm. But it’s the knee that Bockwinkel had been working over, so he collapses in pain, allowing Bockwinkel to recover first and go back to work on the leg with an Indian deathlock. However, they lose the plot somewhat about 35 minutes in, as they largely jettison their prior body part work and kind of aimlessly trade holds and strikes for a while. I will grant, though, that I probably would have found it more compelling had I been watching live without benefit of knowledge of the outcome. Fortunately, they get it back together in the last ten minutes, and the drama once Hennig starts bleeding is off the charts. He looks like the biggest badass on Earth by being able to fight through the blood loss and bust Bockwinkel open with his bare hands (or arm, as the case may be). Hennig collapsing on Bockwinkel after hitting the Axe but not getting the pin because Bock was on his belly rather than his back was a great real sports-style nearfall. Hennig applying the figure-four with about a minute and a half remaining was a nice touch: it’s long enough that Bockwinkel comes across as an incredibly gutsy bastard for being able to hold on but not so long that holding on would have been unbelievable. This isn’t something I can watch all the time, or even most of the time, but if I’m in the mood for a classic old-school broadway, this match scratches that particular itch like no other. ****1/4 Rock & Roll Express vs. Andersons (NWA, 11/27/86) Take two all-time great asskickers, pit them against two all-time great asskickees, and stick the four of them in a steel cage, and greatness is bound to ensue. As much as the R&Rs are known for perfecting the classic tag team formula, this match subverts the formula in a couple of ways. One, the opening minutes are more like a chaotic fight than a structured tag match, which makes sense. After all, if you’re in a cage, you can’t do the typical babyface shine followed by the heels taking a powder on the outside. Two, even though it’s a double-FIP match, there’s no second hot tag. Anderson-style body part work, with traditional holds combined with roughhouse tactics like stomping and ramming the limb into a cage, is one of my favorite things in wrestling, and the tag environment allows us to see them work on both a leg (Gibson’s) and an arm (Morton’s). However, this match shows that it is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing, as the beatdown on Morton keeps going on and on and on to the point where an R&R comeback doesn’t seem credible. Coming back against the Midnight Express is one thing, but taking down a pair of hosses like the Andersons in a de facto handicap match is a completely different ballgame, especially with Gibson’s bum leg. Even the teeny-boppers in the audience seemed to be losing patience as the match dragged on. For what it's worth, the actual finish (a dropkick-assisted crossbody pin) was well-executed, but the match had peaked several minutes beforehand. Even so, going 20 minutes when 15 would have worked better is hardly egregious overkill. ****1/4 Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (WWF, 2/15/87) This match is largely similar to the one between the two at WM3, and some have argued that it’s even better than the Mania match due to it being grittier and more hate-filled. I don’t think I’d go that far, but it is an essential piece of the puzzle for understanding the overall arc of the Savage/Steamboat feud. People have criticized the Mania match for being too bloodless (both literally and figuratively) for a match involving a guy coming back against the man who had tried to crush his larynx. But the bloody revenge matches had already taken place on the house show circuit. When Steamboat first came back in January of 1987, he didn’t care about winning and just wanted a piece of Savage, usually leading to him getting disqualified. By the time this match rolled around, Steamboat realized that the best way to truly hurt Savage was to take his championship, but he still allowed his temper to get the best of him. As we saw in the Santana match, Savage made a habit of taking advantage of his opponents losing their composure in his title defenses. It's usually hard to get behind a babyface who gets consistently outsmarted by the heel, but Savage manages to be such a contemptible weasel that you can’t blame his opponent for blowing his stack. Another key difference is that unlike HHH-style cerebral assassin heels, Savage shows plenty of ass after the match to give the babyface something to hang his hat on. Savage gets the tainted win, but Steamboat ends up the moral victor, setting the stage for his ultimate triumph. ****1/2 Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (WWF, 3/29/87) Quite a few people have claimed that this match is only great by 80s WWF standards, but fuck that. This is a timeless classic that would stand out in any promotion in any era. Context is key, though. In fact, I prefer to think of this and the 2/15/87 match as elements of an overarching narrative rather than distinct matches. Steamboat’s temper cost him in the previous month’s match, so he makes a concerted effort to keep his cool this time around. He has the advantage when he sticks to wrestling, but when he gets more aggressive (chasing Savage on the outside, attacking Savage in the ropes), Savage is able to turn the tables. It’s also important to note that while this match is famous for being planned out and rehearsed beforehand, there are no sequences that are too complicated to have been called on the fly. That’s the key for me: plan it out if you must, but try to hide the strings. Steele’s involvement is the only major blemish, but that’s a recurring issue with showcase WWF matches. Rather than let the action in the ring speak for itself, they have to turn everything into a three-ring circus. Nevertheless, the action and intensity never let up, and both guys take man-sized bumps throughout, so this holds up as a workrate classic even though none of the offense would be considered high-end by today’s standards. ****1/2
  13. NintendoLogic

    My New Year's Revolution: The Rewatchening

    Ted DiBiase vs. Dick Murdoch (Mid-South, 12/31/85) When watching classic 80s brawls, you have to marvel at their ability to get so much mileage out of different varieties of punches and kicks with minimal use of international objects. After all, any backyarder can swing a chair or put someone through a table. If you can have a high-end brawl with only your bare hands, you're ahead of the game. More specifically with this match, a couple of things stand out. First of all, I love how Murdoch sells punches, like he bit into an ice cube after a root canal. Second, it's pretty cool to see how DiBiase utilizes his signature spots as a babyface. The diving fist drop becomes a comeback spot, and he becomes the one who catches his opponent's foot when attempting a kick rather than vice-versa. Murdoch stalling just enough at the end to give DiBiase enough time to load up his glove was a great way for the heel to get hoist by his own petard without being too over-the-top about it. ****1/2 Jumbo Tsuruta/Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW, 1/28/86) When Choshu jumped to All Japan, his intense action-based style didn’t immediately gel with the more taditional NWA-based style preferred by the likes of Jumbo. Once they were able to come together, they elevated the in-ring art to an unprecented degree and set the stage for the brilliance of the 90s. The opening minutes are fantastically chippy with plenty of stiff strikes and strong resistance to even basic holds. The match hits GOAT contender level with a sequence a little more than five minutes in where Tenryu has Choshu in a figure-four leglock. Choshu tags out to Yatsu, who drops elbows on Tenryu while his legs are still entangled, prompting Jumbo to run in and stomp Choshu’s injured ribs. From there, his ribs become a bullseye for Jumbo and Tenryu to target, providing the narrative structure that drives the match. The backdrop and lariat are standard Choshu comeback spots, but here they only give him a temporary breather, as he’s too damaged to capitalize. Even tagging out provides no respite, as Tenryu makes an immediate beeline for him on the apron and does more damage to his ribs with a chair. I’d also like to mention that Jumbo was quite an underrated bleeder. He didn’t use the blade very often, but when he did, he almost always hit a gusher. Action, violence, and psychology: that’s 90s All Japan in a nutshell, and this is where it all began. I’ve seen the future, and it works. ***** Randy Savage vs. Tito Santana (WWF, 4/22/86) I always expect Savage’s matches to not hold up for some reason, but whenever I revisit them, I find that they hold up quite well. His explosiveness and animalistic intensity elevated everything he was in, and his preference for planning out his matches meant that they were usually tightly structured with strong transitions and minimal downtime. Even more importantly (to me, anyway), the action always had a sense of spontaneity and never felt overly choreographed. Much like modernist architecture, he was able to achieve simplicity through extensive planning and forethought. This match is a textbook example: thirteen minutes of wild brawling with Savage flying all over the place like a madman. He may not have displayed the variety of Lawler or Funk in the punching department, but I don’t know if anyone had a better straight right. Of course, Santana is no slouch in that department. Countering a diving double axehandle with a chair to Savage’s gut was the definite highlight of the match. Alas, Santana’s fiery Latin temper ends up costing him when he pulls Savage up from a pin at two to throw mounted punches. Savage of course gets the pin with a handful of tights, but it’s the journey that counts, not the destination. ****1/2 Antonio Inoki vs. Dick Murdoch (NJPW, 6/19/86) My tolerance for working of holds mainly to kill time is extremely low, but purpose-driven holds are right up my alley. In this match, Murdoch stampedes Inoki at the beginning with knees and slams before going to work on his arm. Murdoch’s arsenal of arm locks is impressively varied, and he also makes sure to periodically mix in Anderson-style stomps and elbows. I loved how the damaged arm served as a target that prevented Inoki from going to the mat the way he’d like. Not only was it sound psychology, it relieved me of the burden of seeing Inoki lay on the mat for eternity. Inoki, to his credit, consistently sells the arm throughout, even at the end when most wrestlers would have blown it off. He also does a tremendous job of playing a wounded but dangerous bear, making his comeback with punches and enzuigiris while trying to protect his arm. I have to say that as much as the more choreographed modern style mostly leaves me cold, this match shows how lack of planning can drag down an otherwise fantastic contest. For one thing, there are several instances where the match just kind of resets and neither wrestler is quite sure what to do next. In addition, there’s a major miscommunication at the end. Inoki hits a German suplex but can’t maintain the bridge because of the damage to his arm, but Murdoch doesn’t kick out. The crowd goes crazy because they think the match is over, but that wasn’t supposed to be the finish. Inoki gets the pin with an enzuigiri immediately afterward to little more than polite applause. There were also more countout teases than I would have cared for, but that’s just the nature of the beast in 80s Japan. Subtract those hiccups and this is a serious contender for best New Japan match of the 80s, if not best overall. Even so, it's well worth checking out. ****1/4 Riki Choshu vs. Killer Khan (AJPW, 7/31/86) A minimalist approach to wrestling can mean a couple of different things. It can mean action based around basic strikes and holds, and it can also mean taking shortcuts to get away with doing as little as possible in the ring. As it turns out, they employed both approaches in this match. Choshu and Khan are both somewhat limited, but they have an incredible flair for the dramatic, so they’re able to make every punch and stomp seem like a titanic blow. It’s not the most graceful action ever committed to film, but I’ll take rough and violent over pretty and bloodless any day of the week. Reaching through the ropes to attack an opponent on the floor is a highly underrated tactic. Unfortunately, there’s also plenty of cutting of corners in the form of all the bullshit on the floor. I have no problem with that sort of thing in small doses, but I felt like they pushed it beyond the limits of tolerance. Still, the good stuff is really really good, and there’s enough of it to make it worth your time. ****1/4
  14. NintendoLogic

    RIP AAA La Parka

    Interesting to see CMLL acknowledge him even though he never wrestled a day for them, at least not as La Parka. I don't think that would have happened if Paco Alonso were still alive.
  15. NintendoLogic

    WWE TV 12/23 - 12/29 Holiday Season is Here

    The tragedy to me is that all of Punk's controversies have subsumed his legacy. He was the John the Baptist to Daniel Bryan's Jesus Christ in terms of opening the door for indy stars to become WWE main eventers. Bryan played the largest role in changing the in-ring style and the talent evaluation process, but that never would have happened without Punk paving the way.
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