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G. Badger

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About G. Badger

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    Viceroy of Catlandia

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    In my chair, digging 1988 NJPW

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  1. 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!
  2. A little bit of a delay in posting this what with the pandemic being a bit of a distraction and all. Nevertheless, we push forward with NJPW 1988! Buzz Sawyer & Manny Fernandez vs Super Strong Machine & Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/05): I'm going to go with this date although I'm not 100% sure. Who cares though? Its Manny & Buzz smashing skulls and Super Strong Machine, the most iconic NJ wrestler that most people haven't seen more than 3 matches of! Me included! Well, this is a finish only match but, I'm going to add it to my tally. Wrestling-wise Buzz & Manuel do some nice heelin' and double teamin' which made me really push for the Riki-gun team comeback. Very good stuff from what was shown. Helluva lot better than the Gaspar Bros. match! Kengo Kimura vs Riki Choshu (07/09): This was just about complete, yay! A fast and exciting match. Way moreso than you thought Kengo vs Riki in '88 would be. Kengo is getting phased out from what I can tell but, man he's going for broke against Riki. As a reminder, this is a round robin match to face Fujinami in August so, there is a lot at stake. That what really makes this so very good..plus Inoki is on commentary. And damn you'd better believe he gets up in the mix post match. Ric Flair style too - shirtless & in dress slacks! This match and post match were just a blast. Masa Saito vs Big Van Vader (07/22): I have the TV version which is pretty much the last few minutes but, I was able to locate the full version via handheld on Youtube. You're not missing a lost classic with the handheld...let me say that much. There's some nice slams and Vader took some sick bumps for a man his size. Good match and Vader tantrums afterwards No way I would say that to his face...he'd toss me like a fucking guardrail. Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22): The clear main event and reason Vader vs Saito was clipped. Choshu is so amped to get at Antonio that he won't let the big chinned hero in the ring for introductions. He's like a junk yard dog walking the perimeter of the ring, blocking Inoki, getting into his head before the bout begins. And when the bell sounds, it is on! Inoki out-wrestles the rebel Riki and we see that for once, he is the underdog. This is a scramble, this is a fight, I love it. Loaded with intensity and explosiveness...its on the short list of great sub 10 minute matches. Hell, for its sense of urgency, intensity, story, and finish...it is a classic. I've never heard anything about this bout but, man I was glad it was included on my DVD set. If you've been watching any of these matches or like that Riki Choshu Strong Style then, you'll want to see it. Next time, we've got more Manny & Buzz, a return to Jr. action and more! Thank you for reading! Stay safe and be smart out there wrestling fans!
  3. Let's look at Part 5 of New Japan in 1988! Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Shiro Koshinaka (06/26): Kobayashi is such a badass. He just rips up the title match declaration and hassles the official. This is a key match up with the Junior captains of the NJPW and Riki teams. That being said, this is the longest Jr. match shown on TV thus far and is very good stuff. Move-wise this is not as fast paced or innovative as some other bouts however, the simple suplexes and pinning combinations felt really important and dire. Its very scrappy and the crowd eats it up. Its hard not too just dig this match. Very good bout! Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26): NJ Vader was such a monster in damn near every way that matters. Fujinami is as capable and tough a wrestler as you can ask for and Vader just destroys him with power slams and splashes. Fujinami has technical victories over B.V.V. but, we may just chalk those up to luck or smarts. Vader is not going to leave anything up to luck or give The Dragon a chance to be clever this time. Perhaps unwisely, Tatsumi wants to prove that he's a real champion and slay the monster...This is a great title fight and probably the best Vader match thus far. I've seen this match a few times over the years but, it was fresh and exciting like it was my first go around. Take 15 minutes and check this out. To end this post, we see a confrontation between Vader and Inoki along with Kengo Kimura, Riki Choshu, and Masa Saito that takes place on 07/15. It features a nice sequence or two of Inoki and Vader getting into it. Antonio shows he's ready for the big man to give it his best shot. Doing a little looking ahead, this sets the stage for a summer round robin to see who will face Fujinami at the 08/08 show (you may have a guess). Nevertheless, I want to see the matches, man! That's a pretty stacked line-up. Next time, we'll see some matches from this round robin plus Buzz Sawyer and Manny Fernandez kick butt! Thank for reading!
  4. 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
  5. I took a small break from my New Japan 1988 project to cherry pick a few Golden Era Ring of Honor matches that I had been wanting to see. The theme I guess would be Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson but, KENTA is in two of the three matches. So its really Joe, Danielson plus KENTA matches that I wanted to see AND are free on ROH's Youtube channel. I've had these bookmarked for months and been waiting to see for more than a decade. There's no time like the present to check these out! Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Title, Midnight Express Reunion 2004): I've seen their 2003 match and heard that this was their best. It is considered a classic and in 2004 with the storyline of Joe post Punk encounter #1, I can see giving it that status. I'm not going to take that away in honesty because, I'm sure there are wrinkles that I've missed in 2020. That being said, I thought as a stand alone title fight this was very good (and perhaps great). I think the story was Dragon trying to force Joe to go long (like Punk had) but, also try to systematically dismantle the champ. That and Danielson post NJPW tour could hit with the hardest so, Joe didn't stand a chance. However, the Samoan Submission machine was in Terminator mode not only eating what Danielson was throwing but, dishing out some sickening blows himself and possession "the choke" or Coquina Clutch as TNA would brand it, I've read comparisons to 90's AJPW and I can see that as there were few slams and suplexes compared to strikes and submissions. Where this differs is the organization department. Most notably Joe's need to fit in the Ole kicks 2/3rds of the way in. This is the point where my excitement went off track. Each guy was desperate to close the fight and now Joe finds it necessary to do his showboat/insult move? He should have just faked it out and just chest kicked Danielson or something more visceral. And that's the thing... the match was at a gut level violent...like Tsuruta vs Tenryu then, Joe (and I don't really blame him in '04) inserts an Indy fan service move. A bit of wind went out of my sails. My other quibble is Danielson's attack psychology. The awful 2004 announcers (whom I muted on the 2nd watch) even acknowledge the change in gameplan. This is so heavy handed on their part frankly...they're explaining rather than letting the wrestler do so with their actions. Anyhow, I would have preferred a Liger-like focus from Bryan on Joe's leg or neck early on then settle into the middle of the match only to call-back to that to set up the ending portion...even if it would not lead to the finish. Instead, it doesn't seem like he can commit to a single plan of focus and neither can Joe from a selling standpoint. So, the story of the challenger doesn't come across as strongly as it should have, Those things would have made this an all time classic in my eyes...I think this was the time where Gabe S. was really pushing the long matches = great match ideology for ROH. The above flaws would have been less bothersome if this was 5 -10 minutes shorter. Not that it NEEDED to be but, they story would have been tighter and the earlier portion would have look less like time-filler. Nevertheless, I watched the damn thing twice in two days and enjoyed it both times so, I gotta recommend watching this. Samoa Joe vs KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (In Your Face 2006): This is another match that I'd been wanting to see for a decade plus. I'd seen clips from the ROH Live Wire from another DVD and thought this looked awesome but, perhaps too good to be true. I was wrong. This was precisely the match I'd hoped it would be. A high intensity, ultra stiff action packed 3 way match during their peak.Honestly, 2006 was the peak of their peak and this was special. A classic match that doesn't go too long or get too cute. Perhaps an all time classic if I'm going to be honest with myself. The shorter match length (20+ minutes I think) kept everything mean and showing how much Joe & Bryan had improved in just over a year...and ROH for that matter. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson (Best In the World 2006): I watched this bout right after the above and if you have the luxury, I suggest you do the same. It plays off of (and in real time sets-up) the heat between Joe & KENTA beautifully. Not only that but, we have 4 of the best wrestlers in 2006 facing off and this is probably the closest to a AJPW Big 4 match as ROH did. Some have given this **** but, that's the bare minimum in my view. This match deviated from the balls to the wall fest that many were hoping for and instead provided all kinds of build ups and cool-downs that only master wrestlers can do. And I'm not talking about kickouts but, they achieved this by scaling up the intensity and urgency through body language, speeds, how hard they through their strikes, when they chose to tag, etc. It was a thing of beauty and like all true classics, I could have watched this all night. Even when a error was made, it was forgiven and forgotten as a miss rather than a mistake. If you are a fan of these guys and this style, check this out. You may not think as highly of it as me but, you will have fun. That goes for all of the above! Three remarkable matches available for free on ROH's 'tube page. I'd like to get the DVDs of the ones featuring the NOAH guys since I'm old school but, if not I'm stoked that I saw them. Thanks for reading! We'll get back to NJPW 1988 next week for sure!
  6. We're back and on to Part 3 of New Japan in 1988! I've got a crappy cold right now so, let's see if I can get it together enough to write this entry without a hundred typos. Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27): My compilation has this listed as their 05/08 match but, it follows the multi-man elimination match from 04/27 (see previous entry) and a couple other points of research show this as their April match. That outta the way, this was all kinds of exciting. Fujinami knows he's got to take it to the Mastadon right from the start if he has any chance. Inoki got killed on the 01/04 shows because he was treating B.V. Vader as a normal "big man." Fujinami's plan is working until he gets gorilla press dropped onto a guardrail...throat first! From here Vader chokes and torment The Dragon...Fujinami is really fighting to survive. His "plan" is shot to shit and any comeback seems to enrage Vader. Be on the look out for the cross body block that damn near kills both guys. We get a "finish" but, its only the beginning! Next we get a little video package explaining the UWF 2.0 split. We even see clips of Maeda vs Yamazaki. With that I'm going to insert a match that I found on Youtube that happens earlier in the year... Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiroshi Hase (02/05): This is the precursor to their March classic (see part 1 of series). This is a very good to great match - and I would have to say Hase's selling of the story is what makes this special. His comeback/revenge submissions are really choice! Look up Hase '88 and you should find this match no problem OK now back to May 1988! The TV footy jumps us way into Fujinami vs Vader (05/08) and this is all fire! Both guys are pissed and we get 6-7 of the final minutes. Sweet! Its 80's footage so, I'll take what I can get! Koshinaka vs Hase (05/27): They show this like its a JIP match but, we really only get the final 2 minutes of the match but, we get a clean exciting finish. Nice! Not enough shown to really rate. Owen Hart vs H. Hase (05/27): JIP with Owen stuck in the Scorpion lock but, soon enough he finds his way out. Hase is a destroyer in '88 and isn't giving the Canadian a chance. 5 minutes shown, very good stuff. Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27): We get this in full thankfully! Fujinami is picking Choshu apart to the point where he's bleeding early on. If you know Choshu, he's one big move away from his comeback. What's interesting is that Fujinami injures his ankle (a twist from an earlier move? Or is this the story!?) and Rik is on it like a pirahna. The Dragon will not quit in true fighting spirit...when he gets his Dragon Sleeper on, you know he's not letting go! Great dramatic match that is only one battle in the war. Check these matches out and thanks for reading! I'm gonna go get a cough drop and go to bed...
  7. G. Badger

    RIP Kendo Nagasaki (Kazuo Sakurada NOT Peter Thornley)

    Sorry to hear this since he was one of the first non WCW/ECW Japanese wrestlers I knew back in the 90's. Started BJW as well as all of the above accolades...a "big" enough star in the mid 90's to have his own pet death match promotion after Onita's FMW took off. What's crazy is FMW is long gone as is W*ING, IWA Japan, Ishikawa's Tokyo Pro, etc. but BJW is still going strong. Even stronger than AJPW from what I gather...so, that's a pretty good legacy. His tag street fight match as Dragon Master in 1990 FMW and a handful of fights in SWS are all worth searching out.
  8. Back for the second installment of my adventure in 1988 New Japan land! We are now in uncharted territory...ooohh spooky...Well, not too spooky although Vader's entrance head apparatus is some kinda Geiger stuff. The big change is that the 2nd UWF split has gone down so, Maeda, Takada, Yamazaki, and Fujiwara have left again. So, the emphasis of the promotion from what I gather is Riki Choshu's army vs New Japan's army. And then Vader being an absolute monster who cannot be stopped even by Inoki! Let's see what's going on... Riki Choshu & H. Hase vs Antonio Inoki & S. Koshinaka (04/11): Oh man, even the ring intros are heated! Then, TV picks back up and Team Riki are looking to demolish Koshinaka. Great tag wrestling from them. Inoki is playing the spoiler of their fun but isn't necessarily out for blood. I would have liked a minute or two at the end but, this was a good match and a proper start to my new batch of matches. Then the DVD set shows fallout after it appears Fujinami and Inoki lose to Vader & Masa Saito. Some shouting and a couple stiff slaps and we've got some set-up to the August showdown between Icon & Ace of NJPW. Next bout! Keiichi Yamada & S. Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi & H. Hase (04/22): Tons of excitement here as these two athletic teams go at it! Hase and Koshinaka potato'ing each other was a highlight. However, Kobayashi's stumbling piledriver on the floor was righteous...I just wish it led to something greater...oh man...It looked so good! Yamada is the one really selling this match and if everyone else wanted to then, this would have been a great match. But, I can understand...this was a blast nonetheless. Very good bout with a nice finish. So, the above bout sets-up a 5-on-5 elimination match between the rank and file of NJ Army vs Riki Army Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27): These are all TV matches I've figued out so, there is some JIP and unfortuately, we get some here. I say that because, we start out with Hase already bleeding. That is BIG as he's at the top of the food chain in this match. So, it looks like NJ already has a leg up however, they quickly get two of their guys eliminated. We get a commercial break and New Japan has got Hase in there looking to get revenge. Mind you, eliminations can happen by pin, submission, or getting tossed to the floor. We're saying you can even get tossed through the middle rope and be out! So, believe me the action picks up fast and we get some big surprises. Its a 2 on 1 situation at the end and man! It is a nail-biter! The tension was so high as any mistake could lead to a elimination. Great match and in full, it could be a near classic. About 14 minutes shown. Things are picking up and I'm having fun with 1988. More to come next time with Vader vs Fujinami and more. Thanks for reading!!!
  9. This has been a project I've been waiting to do for quite sometime. My busy season with work is all done and we've finally finished moving into our house. Sure, there are tons of boxes and bags full of stuff that we need to unpack, sort, and put away. That can wait though! I want to get back to wrestling and specifically 1980's puroresu! New Japan 1988 is my first stop. I'm somewhat acquainted with this year from my Nobuhiko Takada comps and the 8/8/88 Inoki vs Fujinami bout. I'm going to start the year with reviews from my "vault" but, I will scratch the surface a bit more as I progress. Let's start! (01/11): Keiichi Yamada vs. Masakatsu Funaki- This one was full of sound mat wrestling and some punishing holds. The best part was seeing shooter supreme doing pro-style moves! Its totally fresh and interesting to see this mat master to hit these moves. Funaki is darn good at it too! A fun match and bit of late 80's juniors gem. A match made me declare Damn! Liger's my favorite wrestler! *** 3/4 (01/25) Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki - Yes! finally the strong style match I knew they could do! Awesome work by Yamazaki and Takada lets go of his ego and plays the vulnerable young ace to Yamazaki's perenial yet gutsy underdog. This is the Yamazaki match to watch...well every Yamazaki is worthwhile but even moreso here because like 9/11/85 he's allowed to compete. The joint locks and holds are sold like killer moves as all worked shoots really rely on. This plays really well off the May & Sept. '87 tag matches. ****+probably higher. (02/04) Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka - This started out pretty good but they were getting too complex with their spots & they weren't hitting them how they wanted. It started picking back up but there was a glitch in the DVD on my player so I turned it off. I was not into it what can I say. It's worth a re-watch. (02/04) Hiroshi Hase vs. Keiichi Yamada- A fun, smart, well wrestled match. Each man picked his opponent apart as best they could. Of course Yamada had his moves from the top rope but, Hase surprised me with some of his maneuvers. He was pretty brutal as he was still a protoge of Riki Chosu. This of course wasn't the classic one would hope for but, it was pretty good stuff. I just wish it could have gone on longer as it was just starting to pick up when it ended. That's really the only knock on this match but, this tendency to go-home around 10 minutes is an 80's Jrs. thing. ***1/2 (03/11): Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiro Hase - I was expecting a mat wrestling clinic but um...we didn't get that. That's OK though since both guys brought their A game and Takada wasn't stalling here and Hase was his great self albeit a bit in a heel/Choshu mode which was very cool because Takada seemed quite vulnerable. Expectations aside, this was an awesome match with great performances by both men and a match that goes on their highlight reel. These last couple of matches have really saved Takada for me because he was really getting in a rut in the summer of '87... and shows Takada really wanting to go out of NJPW with a bang. Another piece of evidence that the UWF guys or Takada at least was best against NJPW guys. It allowed him to fluff off their "fake" offence, allowed them to really put over the holds as near-finishes since they weren't experienced "shooters", it provided unorthodox sequences and rope running scenarios and the made so much out of the "fake" offence when it did connect. In essence, showing that the puro moves were in fact just as deadly as a head kick or armbar. In other words no one's style was discredited as they were simply different points on the same continuum which is a big part of what makes Inoki Strong Style so great when done right ****1/2+ (03/14) Takada/Yamazaki vs Yamada/Funaki - You know the more I see Yamada without the Liger gimmick the more I wish they hadn't given it to him. He is fucking amazing in every match on this set. The same with Yamazaki. He really pulls himself out of the UWF mold at times and he's damn capable & quite underrated. It's a shame that he stuck around UWFi to get jobbed out. Forget that though. I ignore that now that I've seen these matches. He plays a great babyface who's capable but just not always "good" enough to get that big win. Here the story broadens as the German suplex is his trusty match ender and separates him from the others or at least defines him a bit. He doesn't have the aura of Maeda, Fujiwara or Takada but, he's a contender. Anyhow, this was another damn good tag match with a young Masakatsu Funaki which is funny because we all know how legitimately great he would become & how brutal he could get (7/89 UWF match for that). (04/11 handheld) Keiichi Yamada & Masa Funaki vs. Anotonio Inoki - This is kind of like a 2 on 1 elimination match but, turns into a regular 2 on 1...I guess because the junior want to beat Inoki and the big-chinned one can beat 2 guys at once. Its a quick fun match taped from a fan's camcorder in a gymnasium. If you're a fan of these guys then you'll get a kick out of this one. Its not worth searching out for at like 10 miuntes but, it's a nice inclusion on a compilation. So, I hope that got you pumped to check some of this stuff out! There are definitely some must see match ups. I'll pick back up with Choshu & Hase vs Inoki & Koshinaka TV match from 04/11/88 next time and we'll go from there. Thanks for sticking with me during the hiatus and thanks for reading!
  10. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2019

    Best Wrestlers: Wahoo McDaniel, Rick Martel, Kurt Angle & Roderick Strong Best Tag Teams: Strong BJW & The Briscoe Brothers Favorite Surprises: Gedo 2010 BOSJs, KAI vs Koji Kanemoto, the awesomeness of Hans Schmidt and Yukon Eric...not just the match from Chicago '58 but in general 2019 was a pretty wacky year in terms of my wrestling watching. It was all over the place but, I got to see a bunch of fantastic stuff that I'd been waiting to see for years plus revisit some eras and promotions that I hadn't seen in awhile.
  11. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2019

    It is that time of year where everyone compiles all of the best and worst stuff of the year. In this case, I'm talking about wrestling and I am no different from every other wrestle dork on the inter-web. I take a slightly different approach than most because more often than not, I don't keep up with current wrestling. So, I can't provide a match of the year (MOTY) or anything like that...even though I saw a couple of ROH matches that I thought were great. I'm pretty sure those aren't ending up on folks lists though Anyhow, I'm doing my Best Match Watched list for 2019 which are the best matches of any year that I've watched in the past 365 days. This probably won't be the longest list since I started the blog since we were moving this year and had to sell our house BUT I've got some matches that I haven't blogged about that I think are worthy contenders so, I might surprise myself. So, to start let's go back to the half way point of the year and recap from my June post: -Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric - Chicago Wrestling (circa 1958): Simple, brutal wrestling - the ropes break, part of the ring breaks. Classic shit. -Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP (1977): Near classic hard-hitting bout and angle. -Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA (1984): The in-ring work, the story, this is a classic. -AKIRA vs Kenny Omega - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Another 'not a classic but great match.' -Prince Devitt vs Gedo - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Simple match layout but, the swearing/intensity of this match was lights out awesome. -Finlay vs TAJIRI - Smash - Final Show (2012): A near-classic emotional and physically punishing bout. Fans of either guys need to watch this! -Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk - Money in the Bank (2012): Great -Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong - ROH Summer Heat Tour (Cincinnati 2014): Classic ROH title fight. -Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet - PWG Battle of Los Angeles (2016): Great match! 12-14 minute barn burner -Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestle Kingdom 13 (2019): Inoki Strong Style lives! Great match at least but, a near-classic to me. Not a bad list so far...let's see what the 2nd half of 2019 has for us...Starting with Starrcade matches... Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action-packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling! Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): A madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match. Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This was violent from the very start... Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all-time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match. Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): This is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match. Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): This is a classic match with a simple story and layout. They never go too complicated in the moves department and therefore never mess anything up. Then, you're riding on charisma and selling in order to get the match over with the fans. Here they truly excel. Flair is a given but, Luger at this time seemed to have even God on his side. Never was I a Lex fan until I saw him from this era. And, man! Did he have "it" for a few years? The physique and the power are on full display and it really seems like Ric is facing his replacement for the 90's in this match. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Masa Chono & Shinya Hashimoto (WAR 10/01/93): Ten minutes of solid ass-kicking. Hash (IWGP champ) gets on the mic before the bell and talks some trash that kicks off this intense sprint-fight. As much as I love a smooth wrestling match (like above), I love a rough non-cooperative slobber knocker just the same. All four guys use their simple offense and great selling to put on a near-classic match. Don't believe me? Watch for Tenryu's chops on Chono...that should get you going... Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (FMW - Exploding Barbwire match - 09/01/96): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and the best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans. Hayabusa vs TAKA Michinoku (FMW 11/16/96): Dives, counters, springboard moves, and big signature offense - it wasn't a classic but, dang! It was a great match. Right up there with the Joshi match. Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (FMW 12/11/96): Kandori submission attempts and Kudome heart and head drops make this a good match just on paper. Here they throw in all kinds of teases & fake-outs. It made for a really exciting Joshi match (which I haven't seen in ages). Plus their timing and chemistry were fantastic. I would have to say this fits right alongside AJW stuff from '96 and probably better than many of the overlong bouts that Toyota had that year. Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya) (AJPW 11/29/2011): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20-minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me. Bennett & Taven vs Ciampa & Hanson (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This all kinds of chaos! I love this type of stuff A simple story of the bearded babyfaces getting revenge on the shit-talking, good looking heels, and babe. The energy was there, the pacing was there, and everything just clicked. Great match and a fantastic segment if you count the match before. Alberto El Patron vs Roderick Strong (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This was a fantastic physical match between two veteran wrestlers. Alberto was going after Roddy's injured arm; hoping to secure the cross armbreaker. Roderick was trying to break down El Patron's body as only he can. The fans were psyched to see this match up and so was I. Alberto, Regal, and Danielson were two guys I would watch in the WWE so, it was great to see the former Dos Caras Jr. in a ring where he could show US fans what he's about. It was a shame they couldn't bring him in for more shows but, I'm glad we got this one. A great match, maybe a near-classic that was everything it needed to be. From ROH - Conquest Tour 2015 - Hopkins MN Roderick Strong vs Silas Young - This is a good match just on paper. You know they're going to hit hard and keep the pace up so, I was confident this bout would get things back on track. And I was not disappointed. This bout felt like a genuine struggle which is much appreciated in 2019. They had answers for each other's tricks & traps and I think that helped make this a great match. In fact, I wouldn't sneeze at anyone who would rate this **** 1/4. Great finish and MOTN thus far. Briscoes vs War Machine - The tag team equivalent of the above match. Physical and surprisingly quick match. Now its not like the Young Bucks were facing off against Jay & Mark but, War Machine hustled like a couple of Young Vaders. Another great match where **** 1/4 would totally be acceptable. Now for some that weren't covered on the blog: Jun Akiyama vs Katsuyori Shibata (Wrestle -1 (not Mutoh) 08/04/05): A very stiff BattlARTS type of match. It was great although its no surprise that Shibata, who based his career on these types of bouts, is now retired. If you're a fan of either, really go watch this now... Sabu vs Rob Van Dam (ECW Guilty as Charged 2000): A controversial choice since most folks on the PWO match discussion archive thought this was just "good" at best. It was perhaps their best single match with one another to me. In that regard, this match was superior to many similar move centric hardcore matches a few years later in ROH and certainly beyond. They did not go for overkill & empty their tanks and that IS why this is a great match. It felt like an athletic competition (in the ECW world) and not moves for moves sake. Now for some I'd only written in my notebook but are ABSOLUTELY worth talking about now: Miracle Violence Connection (Williams and Gordy) vs Misawa & Kawada (AJPW 12/06/91 RWTL Final Match): Holy crap is Gordy intense! The MVC gameplan is to divide and conquer. The Japanese team knows this and make frequent tags and hit the Americans high & low. The trick is to endure Miracle Violence's onslaught though...and what an onslaught it is! Near classic encounter with those little unexpected moments that make this era of AJPW so great. Kurt Angle vs Yuji Nagata (TNA/NJPW Wrestle Kingdom II): Saw this around when it happened and thought it was great but not classic stuff. I re-watched this a couple of months ago and damn was I wrong! This was a freaking intense wrestling match. If you're down for guys working submissions and escapes and selling through facial expressions - this is a match for you. I will go on to say this was an extension of Inoki Strong Style and belongs in that upper echelon. I know more about Nagata now than 11 years ago and understand the nuances of this bout so, I really can appreciate this as puro as a combat sport. Classic match Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008): I remember the hype for this match and the clips from Impact and the DVD ads and I thought this looked amazing. I was right...took me more than a decade to see it but, it was worth the wait. Like the above Nagata match, this was puro as combat sport. Perhaps even more so as this was during Angle's MMA training/Frank Trigg period, we have a hexagonal cage, and this was around UFC's break-through period of mainstream acceptance with their Ultimate Fighter show also on SPIKE. Anyhow, these two agreed to go stiff where it reminded me of Joe vs Kobashi for a moment or two. Seriously that lariat! Are you kidding me? Add that in with excellent build and pacing and we end up with a true classic and perhaps an all-time must-see classic encounter when you take into consideration their history and the build-up to this battle. This is certainly top tier for TNA and "puro" in America type matches as well as Inoki Strong Style in the 2000's. Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries (TNA Slammiversary X - 2012): Well, hot damn! These guys still have it 8 years after their Final Battle classic. In fact, the similarities are uncanny...is this the same match just 8 years later? No...can't be...regardless they still brought the intensity and I cannot find any fault here. I loved this match and thought it was a classic especially for TNA fans. Magnus (Nick Aldis) vs KAI (TNA/Wrestle-1 Global Impact 2014): This is for the TNA World title and I certainly had my reservations going into this. Thankfully, we get 15 minutes of simple snug wrestling. It felt very similar to WCW vs NJPW stuff in Japan. This was excellently paced, well worked with some stiffer than expected moves, and an emphatic finish. I truly can't find a fault with this match, great stuff. Rush & Dragon Lee vs Briscoe Brothers (ROH TV Summer 2019): This was a PPV level match for free. Jay and Mark still have that crazy streak so this was all action - blood, chair assisted moves, double teams. Plus both teams have a personality which is something I think ROH does lack at this time. (I like Taven but, don't get what they're doing with him btw).A few more minutes and this would have been a classic but, this was a great match nonetheless. Look for this one somehow! SO LET'S ORGANIZE THIS! What is the cream of the crop? I think I'm going to go with an emotional pick and choose Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008) as the Best Match Watched. The other top 5 matches are classic matches with timeless moments etched into my brain and it took me a long time to rule them out as the top of the top. The Joe vs Angle match plays off my nostalgia from 2008 and watching TNA Impact every week. In that regard, I can legitimately say they are two of my favorites of the 2000's and to see them truly have the all-out war that they only showed hints of in 2006 was an unbelievable pay-off to me. The Nagata match with Kurt was a precursor to the Lockdown match and although that was a classic in its own right, it helped bolster the drama of the Joe match. I don't know if this was intentional or what but, it totally worked on me. I think Tully vs Magnum is a known all-time classic and I don't know what one more person agreeing with that sentiment is going to do for its prestige. You know what I mean? It is required viewing without me saying so I think Piper vs Valentine is a precursor to that match and for that reason should be on your must-watch list. I don't think it gets the love it deserves perhaps because people think of the WWF versions of the guys and think it can't be as intense as people say. I would leave it from the top spot just because its finish cannot match the Tully vs Magnum finish...not much can though! The Schmidt vs Yukon and Martel vs Bockwinkel bouts are ones that I had never really heard of but, certainly deserve more recognition. I understand folks not wanting to go back to 1958 but, I really recommend watching pre-1970s wrestling at least a couple times every year. It gets harder and harder since we get further and further away from it...trust me. The AWA title match with Rick & Nick was one of those things I found online that I just wanted to explore as I'm always trying to find more good "wrestling" from them. I've seen damn near 80% of their ESPN show but, always want to see more of the era before they went out of business. Martel and Bock are two in particular that I was looking for and to see this title match was great...little did I know it would be a masterpiece. All that being said, I go back to my emotional bias for the Joe vs Angle Lockdown fight being the reason I say it’s the Best Match I watched in 2019. I also think it’s probably an arguable match to consider a classic and an objective "better match" than those mentioned above. Thing is I'm not going to argue against that...The point is that the Lockdown match was ticked off every box for me...I was invested in the outcome, I was surprised and entertained, my 11-year-long expectations were exceeded, and I'm a fan of both wrestlers. So, I'm much happier giving some love for a match that many might overlook because of when it was and who it was wrestled for (TNA) than telling you something you already know like with the I Quit or Dog Collar match. OK explanation over Let's do the rest of the year award type things next post. Thanks for reading!
  12. G. Badger

    Wrestle Kingdom 14

    The Liger 01/04 match would have been perfect if they could have gotten Koji Kanemoto in Ryusuke's place...still those two matches are awesome from a nostalgia standpoint. I'm kinda emotional just thinking about it
  13. G. Badger

    [1999-09-03-ECW-TNN] Taz vs Taijiri

    A very fun exciting match between two of ECW's best at the time. This was really a showcase match that really showed that ECW could be more than bloody brawls. I think they wanted to show something that looked like an actual "wrestling" match and frankly the big two weren't doing anything like this at the time. )Only the Benoit vs Bret Owen Tribute match was the only thing I recall being close to this style). As far as Tajiri looking weak, he really had not been around long enough to take Taz to the limit but, it did show that his kicks could get the job done. The ending sequence played off this while still showing Taz as the dominant World Champ. Taz cutting Tajiri off with his signature slams and suplexes was pretty great. This is up on the 'tube and is great for a quick ECW fix
  14. G. Badger

    Greatest Career Rehabs

    Apologies if anyone else mentioned this but, Terry Funk's "Middle-aged and crazy" period seems like one of the top rehabs in history. Generally speaking, what other person out there is both a former NWA World Champ (when it truly meant something) AND a Hardcore wrestling icon? I think after his I Quit match with Flair, Terry went off the radar for most folks (especially pre-internet) so when, his appearances in ECW gained notoriety, it was like the Funkster was this new crazed wrestler to watch for. His time in IWA-Japan and FMW only bolstered that. I would leave it there and say only dork fans gave a shit but, WWF signed him as Chainsaw Charlie and WCW brought him on board. That's kinda insane especially in regards to how the business is. He wasn't "enhancement talent" or getting squashed but was doing main events in his 50's. Honestly, I don't know if its a rehab as much as evolving as a performer but, for Funk to be highly regarded in '76 & '96 is pretty darn impressive.
  15. I'll stand up for this match and say it was great. I'll echo everyone's positive points. There was minimal stalling or setup time. No one botched anything and this was not longer than it needed to be. It was perhaps their best single match with one another. In that regard, this match was superior to many similar move centric hardcore matches a few years later in ROH and certainly beyond. They did not go for overkill & empty their tanks. Both guys had TONS more offense they could have done. This was one of Sabu's final (if not final) matches in ECW. They would have been justified in taking each other to the limit but, they showed restraint. Something that can't be said of some of the RVD vs Lynn matches. Another key point from a story standpoint is Bill Alfonso representing Sabu and RVD equally. He really does try to "call it right down the middle, baby!" but, RVD doesn't have time for that ...he's gotta beat Sabu. In a way this match cements RVD as not only the heir to Sabu's legacy as the most insane, dangerous wrestler in the company but, also positions him as a true contender for the World title and a star in his own right. Two things, well three...they probably could've been a little more definitive in RVD's win. The setup to the finish could have been maybe 1 move more. Second thing is this was all a very good setup to a dream match of RVD vs Awesome for the big belt...which never happens. That's the true shame (although he got to excel in WWE). And well lastly...the company was sinking. So even if the match took place, I don't think it would have saved the company. If you like these two then definitely watch this match. Understand that the spots and sequences have gotten much crazier (not for the better in many cases) so, don't let nostalgia convince you that these guys were the Young Bucks. But, perhaps you'll enjoy that they're NOT the Bucks. This might not be Flair vs Steamboat but, they certainly have more a sense of the fundamentals than most of the generation they influenced. Anyhow, I thought this was a great match.
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