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William Bologna

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  1. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    New Year Golden Series January 27, Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, 1984 Antonio Inoki&Tatsumi Fujinami VS Hulk Hogan&Iron Mike Sharpe As I step out of my time machine and back into 1984, I'm thrilled to see the Hulkster. It makes up for also seeing Inoki. We also get Iron Mike Sharpe, who's a lot of fun here. He just heels like crazy. He hits Fujinami with the semi-foreign object around his wrist; he whines to the referee; he grabs hair and generally cheats. It's a little confusing, because his partner is, if not the good guy, certainly not the bad guy. Hogan does all the stuff he always does in Japan, but neither I nor the crowd is tired of it. What they really want is a showdown between Hogan and Inoki. They get it after Fujinami puts Sharpe in the scorpion deathlock. Hogan comes in and axe bombers Fujinami out of the ring. Inoki comes in, and the two illegal men have a sequence hot enough to bring the crowd to its feet. It is the 80s, though, so the bell rings halfway through the confrontation: Fujinami has been counted out. This worked because the crowd was so hot for it and because it felt like the silly-ass 80s finish was building to something. I don't know if the Hogan vs. Inoki payoff happened. If it did Fujinami wasn't in it, so it's really not any of my business.
  2. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome January 4, 2008 Tokyo Dome Sixth game ONE NIGHT STAND ~ LEGEND vs V・B・H ~ Choshu force AKIRA Jyushin Thunder Liger Masahiro Chono Tatsumi Fujinami vs "brother" YASSHI Shuji Kondo TARU heresy heresy Pre-match prediction: The indie dirtbags do a bunch of disrespectful stuff, and then the old guys kick their asses. Let's see if I'm right. Post-match analysis: I was right! One of the dirtbags got on the mic and said something over and over; something disrespectful enough to get him booed. Then they got some heat and finally got their asses kicked. It was actually more fun than I thought it would be. The bad guys did some cool stuff, like holding AKIRA up by his legs and axe kicking him the dick. They then did a commendable job getting their asses kicked. The dude wearing the Jamaican flag as a headband in particular earned his paycheck. So, I thought I was done. I was going to watch the Choshu retirement match and go do something else. But once again Gedo snuck in and added a bunch of content. As a paying customer, I guess I should be grateful. I'm not. So it's once more into the breach (in this case, "breach" means "1980s"). We get some Dick Murdoch, which should be fun. Sadly, I have to watch another Bruiser Brody match. Also a weirdly large amount of Jimmy Snuka. King Kong Bundy. A number of Strong Machines. All the greats, coming soon.
  3. William Bologna

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    Lance Archer was the best guy in the tournament. Not just the most surprising, although certainly was that, but if I had to watch one guy's matches straight through, I'd pick him. He got over, too - there were dueling chants when he was wrestling Tanahashi! NJPW didn't know what they had going in, but they figured it out - Archer getting up from a kamigoye before going down to Ibushi must have been an audible. It's nice to have a few guys (like Archer) who don't work the house style. Tomohiro Ishii is my favorite wrestler, but when you see dudes doing his routine a couple times a night for a month, the effect weakens. I always like ZSJ, but he's invaluable in this context because he does something different. This is also the argument for Yano, but he's never done anything for me. Kenta was lousy. I haven't seen much of his work in NOAH or WWE - maybe it worked better if you knew the guy. But they positioned him as the new Shibata, a super intense super dangerous ass-kicker, and he didn't have the ability, demeanor, or physical presence to pull it off. We wound up with this bored-looking dad bod midget. The Bullet Club angle was not only great, it was necessary if they're going to continue to use him. Sanada's super popular all of a sudden, and he's actually learned to respond to it. It's time to do something with him. Jeff Cobb turns out not to be a very good wrestler. I don't watch WWE so Moxley was an unknown, but goddamn that guy's a star. The G1 was great, and I'm glad I managed to stick with it all the way through (I only had one match spoiled!). Ibushi winning really was a wholesome, feel-good moment.
  4. William Bologna

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    They should put Cobb in a tag team, because he can't do 15 minutes on his own. Put him in with a better worker, let him do his big spots and maybe learn something.
  5. William Bologna

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    This is definitely an issue with Cobb. He's got great presence, and he does a lot of cool stuff, but he's not very good at filling a match. In this match, I particularly noticed that he kept throwing strikes for Ishii to counter, and they were not convincing as attempts to hit someone. They really looked like he was throwing his arm up and waiting for Ishii to do something. They were like Flair going to the top rope. I'd still rather watch him than a lot other people, but I'm always a little let down by his matches.
  6. William Bologna

    AEW Fyter Fest

    I will say the CEO match felt like an in joke that I wasn't in on.
  7. William Bologna

    Ring of Honor Wrestling

    I was there tonight and at last year's BITW, and the difference is staggering. Last year it took forever to get a beer. You couldn't get down the one hallway where they were doing meet and greets. This year there was no line for beer, and all the hallways were easily accessible; even the one with Jay Briscoe standing there looking at his phone. The show wasn't any good either. Shane Taylor vs. Bandido was cool, though.
  8. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Fighting Spirit starting ~ CHAPTER1 ~ January 4 Tokyo Dome, 2006 The fourth game Tatsumi Fujinami Osamu Nishimura Takashi Iizuka Toru Yano Hirooki Goto Hiroshi Nagao vs Choshu force Kohei Sato Uwa NoTakashi Yoshito Sasaki kamikaze Daisuke Sekimoto So I guess Choshu's invading with a mob of indie guys? Fujinami looks to defend the honor of New Japan with an army consisting of Nishimura and three young boys, all in black trunks. What they lack in experience and visual appeal they make up for with enthusiasm. Fujinami's team runs in and starts brawling. Their leader lags behind, but we can cut him some slack. The man's 53 years old. I would have thought that as we get closer to the present, it would be easier for me to identify the wrestlers. But what with gimmick and costume changes, and with quite a few of these guys never reaching a level of prominence high enough to be observable by me, I'm clueless about a good third of them. It says Hirooki Goto's in this, but I don't know which young guy in black trunks he is. I do recognize Toru Yano before his dissipation became his gimmick. Black trunks, black hair - seemingly an upstanding citizen. He doesn't even punch anyone in the balls. On the indie side, we've got a blue guy, an orange guy, a guy in long pants, a tall guy, and Daisuke Sekimoto! I love that dude. He doesn't yet have his mullet, but he's always recognizable because he looks like a thumb. Everyone gets in and does stuff, and every so often everyone runs in and brawls. Twelve men in a match is too many, but it's fine. My biggest issue with this match is that the finish involved two of the guys I didn't recognize so I had to figure it out. It turns out Kohei Sato pinned Hiroshi Nagao. For five of these fellows, this is their only entry on NJPW World. I hope you weren't looking forward to any more Yoshihito Sasaki matches
  9. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    WRESTLING WORLD 2003 2003 January 4 Tokyo Dome The first game Osamu Nishimura vs Tatsumi Fujinami Every so often we get one of these throwback exhibition matches. "Remember when guys in black trunks used to do this?" and then they roll around and procure wristlocks for a while. There was one with Kido that was entertaining, and then there's this one, which was lousy. It's also kind of sad. Fujinami's a legend who can still go, and Nishimura was always a better wrestler than his push. Yet here they are jerking the curtain with an eight minute bad match while the Tokyo Dome crowd steels themselves for what looks like a really, really crappy card. It is bad, which you wouldn't expect given that this is right in Nishimura's wheelhouse. Previous installments have seem him looking smooth as silk exchanging holds, but here he and Fujinami aren't on the same page. There's just too much fumbling. The finish in particular is terrible. Nishimura does the thing where he puts his feet in the other guy's armpits and flips him over, and then he does a bridge. There's nothing cooler when it's done well, but . . . well, I've never New Japan's current crop of young lions do anything this awkwardly.
  10. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FIGHTING SPIRIT 2002 February 1, 2002 Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Sixth game Masahiro Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Shiro Koshinaka & Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami I actually went slightly out of order on that last one. When presented with a choice between Misawa and Tatsutoshi Goto, my subconscious tried to do what was best for me. The crowd reacts in unexpected ways. Before the match, Tenzan grabs the mic and says some stuff that's presumably pretty spicy (it makes Choshu pretty mad, whatever it was) - no reaction. During match, Koshinaka hits guys with his ass, and we get a huge pop every time. Anyway, this match is a complete failure. Tenzan talks a big game (I'm guessing), but there's nothing to back it up. After the opening sequence in which a fired up Choshu gives him his comeuppance, there's nothing to suggest that these teams dislike each other or that one of them is made up of bad guys. They just go through the paces, doing all the stuff they'd do anyway. Also, there seems to have been some kind of mass miscommunication at the finish. They're setting up Chono kicking Koshinaka and pinning him, but people are standing around at the wrong time and in the wrong places. We get there, but it's not smooth. These late career Fujinami matches are turning out to be pretty boring most of the time, and I don't think you can blame it on our hero aging. He's just in there with people who aren't all that good and/or aren't trying very hard. *pretends to cough but actually says Chono*
  11. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    NEXESS May 14, Tokyo Dome, 2005 Super Dream Tag Match Tatsumi Fujinami & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Masahiro Chono & Jushin Thunder Liger At this point in Fujinami's career, we're well into legend/exhibition status. They roll him out here for a "Super Dream Tag Match," and he gets the crowd fired up doing some fast-paced stuff with Liger - rope-running, arm drags, even a monkey flip. What they're really waiting for, though, is Misawa to come in and start pasting people. I'm going to be frank - the dude looks rough. Liger and Chono are his contemporaries, and Fujinami is significantly older, but you could be forgiven for thinking Misawa's the grizzledest vet out there. That said, his performance belies his appearance. He sticks to what he can do (elbowing Liger really hard), although he does stretch himself with an elbow suicida. In fact, everyone is bringing the effort in this one. There's lots of unexpected flying from the old guys, and Chono busts out a shining yakuza kick. Fujinami in particular is downright sprightly. You really appreciate how well he's aging when he's standing next to Misawa.
  12. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    WRESTLING WORLD 2002 January 4 Tokyo Dome, 2002 Seventh game Keiji Mutoh, Hiroshi Hase vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Osamu Nishimura We've fast forwarded a few years, and some things have changed. We get the new look Muto, who's finally given up on having hair and started a cross-promotional, nonsensically-named stable: Bad Ass Translate Trading. Hase, having long since embarked on careers in politics and All Japan, proves himself a loyal BATT soldier by having that nonsense on his trunks. Other things have not changed. Fujinami's still swole, and Nishimura still looks like middle management. They all roll around for a while, and it's pretty good. Hase and Nishimura in particular are skilled at this kind of thing. Fujinami gets things ramped up by slapping Hase repeatedly. Hase's giant swing brings out the Orson Welles in whoever's producing this. We get a ground-level closeup that fades into a crane shot, which then melts seamlessly back to the ground. The crescendo is concerned with playing around with the shining wizard. Muto has Nishimura in an abdominal stretch, and Fujinami runs and uses Muto's leg to shining wizard him. There's a new trick for the old dog. That was neat, but the other wizard trick came off as contrived. Hase northern lights suplexes Fujinami and has to hold him there for a while even though he's not the legal man and can't pin him. Eventually Muto gets up and shining wizards Nishimura using Fujinami's prone body as a platform. It was awkward. I blame Muto. The finish is a letdown, as Muto limps around a little bit, shines his wizard on Nishimura, and pins him nonchalantly. Muto - especially millennial, knees-don't-work Muto - could have been better about showing respect for his opponents.
  13. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. VI May 31, 1999 Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium Tatsumi Fujinami&Meng VS Manabu Nakanishi&Genichiro Tenryu I wonder if Meng/Haku has the longest gap between appearances on NJPW World. He goes from June 1999 (Meng and Yasuda vs. Norton and Tenzan, which I am not going to watch) all the way to the battle royal in January 2016. Tough to beat. Meng and Nakanishi do big guy stuff (running into each other bellowing), and then Fujinami and Tenryu come in and do character work (Fujinami slapping Tenryu really hard and Tenryu visibly not enjoying it). Nakanishi is pretty clunky. He's just slow and awkward putting on holds, and he stumbles a lot. He tries for a giant swing on Meng but has to give up and put him in a Boston crab. The crowd doesn't buy into him either - they're at their quietest when Nakanishi's on offense. What the crowd does like - and here again the burghers of Osaka and I agree - is the Fujinami/Tenryu interactions. Fujinami has this thing he does where he puts up his forearms to block a chop and slaps his opponent in the ear. It works more often than not, but Tenryu is too slap-happy to try something else, so both he and his partner get cuffed extensively on the earhole. Tenryu's mad about this in his understated way and looks for any opportunity to chop back, which leads to some fun exchanges (e.g., just running into the ring to hit Fujinami; chopping him on the back of neck when Fujinami tries for a sleeper; getting his comeuppance in the form of a dragon screw). Meng was fine, maybe even good. He's got his late WCW-era giant black and gold pants, so he looks cool. He hits pretty hard, gets hit really hard, and (unlike Nakanishi) doesn't try anything he's not capable of.
  14. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FIGHTING SPIRIT'99 Nakajima Sapporo February 6, 1999 Sports Center Tadao Yasuda & Junji Hirata & Tatsumi Fujinami VS Michael Wall Street & NWO Sting & Scott door Norton This smacks of WCW contractual obligation. Can you put together a worse NWO team without resorting to Virgil? The visiting team is fully infected with WCWitis, which is to say that they're all juiced up and secure enough in their huge contracts and lack of managerial oversight that they don't care about their jobs. They kill their time here with stomps and clubbing forearms. They try a thing with Hirata - Sting and Wallstreet each grab a leg, then Norton headbutts him in the dick. But they screw up the timing. It looks bad, they don't care, the crowd doesn't care, I don't care. Norton in particular looks as bored as I do. Not that New Japan is bringing the heat either. I can't believe how bad Yasuda is, how awkwardly he moves. He's only in his 30s - how does he get around so poorly? He's big, but he's not that big. He's bad at literally everything. He's tall, and he's got a pretty dece Mayor Mike Haggar mustache, but that's it. His sumo slaps look like garbage. He throws a big comeback straight punch at Bo Dallas' dad that looks so bad the crowd doesn't even realize it's a transition. He's moving up my list of most embarrassing champions. At least people liked Bob Sapp. I don't even remember Fujinami tagging in until the very end (I'm not going back to check). He tricks Norton into hitting Wallstreet, then procures the dragon sleeper, prompting him to tap immediately. I guess Bray Wyatt's dad wasn't the cure for my late career Fujinami blues. We get Tenryu again next time, though.
  15. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FIGHTING SPIRIT'99 February 1999 5 days Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center Kensuke Sasaki & Tatsumi Fujinami VS Shiro Koshinaka & Genichiro Tenryu Koshinaka ass attacks before the bell but gets dragon screwed. This brings in Tenryu, and man there's just something about that guy. There's a reason he's main evented for everyone. Here he hits Fujinami very hard several times until Fujinami just blasts him. We are reminded that Fujinami is the best wrestler in the world when someone is hitting him full force in the face. It's always in him; you just need to marshal enough violence to bring it out. The point of this match is to convince everyone that Kensuke is extremely tough and cool. He knocks Koshinaka silly with a single slap. Tenryu's potatoes have no effect on him. He catches Koshinaka mid-ass attack and suplexes him. He gets most of the witty rejoinders. Koshinaka, by the way, might want to rethink his tactical approach. Those ass attacks just don't have a very high success rate. In addition to the suplex, he gets yanked nearly into a dragon sleeper while attempting one, and he manages to blast his own partner. Maybe stay on your feet, Shiro. I enjoyed this, but I'm only now realizing what a hopeless Tenryu mark I am. It had hard shots, big personalities, and some nifty sequences.
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