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William Bologna

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  1. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Tom Zenk/The Eagle vs. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta/Dory Funk, Jr. (AJPW 10/22/1994) I wonder who's going to win this one. This is as bad as you would expect, but they didn't book this match for the work. Dory takes most of the match for his team, and it's not the worst thing you've ever seen. His reach exceeds his grasp, but he does a couple nifty things and you have to appreciate the effort. He kept wrestling long after everyone else in this match was done, by the way. Johnny Smith went away and stayed away; none of that for Dory.
  2. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    The Johnny Smith Book Report The Last Outlaw by Stan Hansen Johnny Smith is mentioned twice: Once in a list of people Hansen tagged with in the 90s, and once as a bystander in a match where Stan's back hurt. Those two were coworkers for a decade and shared a lot of ring time, but I guess Johnny didn't make much of an impression. Pure Dynamite by Tom Billington Honestly, there's not even as much about Smith in this book as I thought there'd be. Still, we get quite a bit: Smith was soft-spoken and not given to practical jokes (this speaks well of him, given that Dynamite's accounts of his hilarious pranks sound like jailhouse serial killer confessions). There actually was an issue getting him from New Japan to All Japan. DK wanted to bring him in, but Smith had done some NJ tours (I have not been able to find any footage), and Inoki and Baba had reached some kind of détente after the defections of Choshu and his guys, along with a bunch of foreigners including the Bulldogs themselves. Dynamite kept calling, and eventually Inoki allowed it. Smith never asked for money. DK got him a raise when he came into All Japan, but he pointed out that if you don't ask for money you don't get it. Smith was maybe a better worker than Davey Boy Smith, but Dynamite's timing was better with David Boy. They had worked together so much that it wasn't as smooth when he worked with someone else. Smith got into the 1990 RWTL as an emergency backup when DBS went back to the WWF without telling Dynamite he was going to do it (we saw them take on Abdullah and Kimala from this tournament). Davey Boy emerges as the halfwit, childlike villain of Pure Dynamite. Dynamite was asked to do a tour of New Zealand and was going to skip it because his shoulder didn't work. But Johnny called him and said he was broke, so he couldn't afford not to. DK mused that while he wasn't broke, he wasn't far off, so they went. The story about the Japanese fan making him the “Jhonny Smith” jacket wasn't in the book, so I don't know where it came from. A couple other notes: He liked Fujinami, calling him a great wrestler and a gentleman. He told Dynamite “You always blow me up.” He's overshadowed in the book by Sayama, whom DK really, really likes. Sayama tried to get Dynamite to come to UWF with him. He talks about a singles match against Tenryu where he elbows Tenryu in the chin so hard that he draws blood. I think I would enjoy that match. He described that “last” match against Johnny Ace and Sunny Beach, and all the dudes in tracksuits giving him presents and throwing him in the air. It was nifty to read that, since I watched it not long ago and his description was dead on. He seemed not to like Misawa, though he didn't go into a lot of detail. He wasn't agile enough to pull off the Tiger Mask stuff. He liked Kobashi a lot, which he and Hansen have in common. Speaking of which, I basically consider it gospel if I read the same thing in two wrestlers' books. So Kobashi is great, Abdullah's a good dude, and Tiger Jeet Singh is a piece of crap. Also Bad News Allen is scary. Dynamite's book is just great, by the way. It's only 200 pages, and I finished it in a day and a half. Couldn't put it down.
  3. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/George Hines vs. Steve Williams/Mike Rotunda vs. Mike Barton/Jim Steele vs. Kona Crush/Adam Bomb (AJPW Stan Hansen Cup 7/20/2002) Welcome to the big Keiji Muto circlejerk. On this card he inserts himself into the old man nostalgia match and then gets to put on his Muta costume and wrestle again (he wins both times). And what better way to pay tribute to Stan Hansen than with a callback to his traditional specialty, a shitty four-way elimination tag match full of guys who lost their jobs when WCW folded? KroniK (and this is the last time I'll be doing that capitalization) come into this match as the tag champions because Muto is a goddamn idiot. They also come into this match like the late 90s personified, wearing Matrix sunglasses and leather and accompanied by generic industrial techno. The other six guys jump them immediately, and after they escape they act like they're going to leave while Bart Gunn stands on the ropes and yells at them. I don't know if this is a shoot, but if it's not it would be odd to have your champions act like this, even if your champions are the bottom of the barrel castoff dregs of Vince Russo's creative output. We don't get to see this develop, because is the match is (thank God) all clipped up. Chronic (I decided I don't want to do the spelling either) take out Johnny, and then Williams pins some asshole named either Brian or Bryan with a Doctor Bomb, and we're left with Barton and Steele vs. the Varsity Club. I think I'm getting Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to Williams and Rotunda. Williams can't move, but he can damn sure wrestle, and Rotunda is hilarious. He does an actual airplane spin to Barton and then falls over, and we all pop for it. He's shown more personality in this handful of millennial AJPW matches than he did in years of pretending to be a civil servant. But the boring guys win when Bart abruptly hits Rotunda with a cutter. Afterwards, we get some really dreadful postmatch promos. The KISS Demon and Wrath are pretty salty that everyone ganged up on them. They go so far as to call their opponents stupid! Spicy stuff. The Varsities want a title shot even though they lost. Barton does the best - he manages to talk for quite a long time and doesn't repeat himself or stop making sense or anything. Then Steele tries to do an Attitude Era-style personality-based promo, making it clear why no one ever asked him to. So at least we're establishing that the tag belts are important and everyone wants them right? So what happened? Well, fake APA beat Barton and Steele and then vacated them. You're doing a great job, Keiji!
  4. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Big Bubba vs. Steve Williams/Terry Gordy (AJPW 7/18/1993) This is a handheld, and it's an interesting tableau. It's broad daylight (there's an open door facing the camera), and people are fanning themselves. It seems like a pleasant afternoon, and a perfect occasion to watch some big foreigners beat one another up. Smith's partner is introduced as Big Bubba, but he's in full Bossman mode. He comes out to "Hard Time" in the getup and does some nightstick tricks for everyone. The Chesire/Cobb County Connection (as I have decided to call this team) takes the first half of the match, and once again Johnny follows in Dynamite's steps by working as if he's not a head shorter than everyone else in the match. He's up against a past and a future Triple Crown champ, but they're pretty giving with him. The hierarchy is enforced strictly with the natives, but the foreigners are looser with it. Bossman is noticeably working his ass off here, and good for him. Not everything he does looks great - his punches are still WWF-quality, and he and Doc fumble on an enzuigiri bit - but he's moving a lot and showing nice enthusiasm. I don't doubt that he would have been a valuable player in All Japan if he'd stuck around. He had the tools. Gordy is the only one taking it easy. He spends a lot of time sitting in headlocks without letting it bother him. Williams, on the other hand, is pretty great. They even get around my least favorite thing about him: He tries an Oklahoma Stampede on Smith. Bossman, apparently aware that I hate that move, comes in tips him over for a near fall. Gordy eventually puts Smith away, and we head to back to hose off Bossman, who's been sweating through his Halloween costume since before the match started. This was a fun little slice-of-life match. The setting was refreshing, and three quarters of the competitors worked harder than I figured they would. A pleasant surprise.
  5. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith vs. Sumu Hara (CNWA 8/10/1990) Another squash where they talk about Johnny. Pretty good work in this one - Koki Kitahara is a cut above your average western Canadian jobber. The only reason I'm bothering with this is because we get a lengthy post-match promo from Smith. It's . . . well, I wish it were better. He's got himself a catchphrase ("The Bruiser is cruisin' and bruisin'!"), but it doesn't take long for him to start repeating himself and losing track of idioms. Whalen better not be trying to cause any nitty gritty in the relationship between Johnny and Gerry Morrow! Johnny watches Gerry's back just like the Champagne Man watches his. I fear that I will never who in the hell the Champagne Man is. He sounds fun.
  6. William Bologna

    Wrestling Bookers

    I want to see AEW announce a G1-style tournament and then hand the book to Riki Choshu.
  7. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite shrunk, but Davey just got bigger and bigger. I wonder if there's any rhyme or reason as to what makes it onto Cagematch. The thread about the best match you've seen in person reminded me of an indy show in Baltimore I attended; when I went to look for it, it turns out it never happened. But the fact that it also missed Dynamite's Welsh retirement tour makes me think Cagematch is just gaslighting me.
  8. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith vs. Randy Taylor (CNWA 4/6/1990) CNWA is practically Stampede, and it has the bad video quality and announcing to prove it. This time we've got Bulldog Bob Brown and someone who's not Ed Whalen but seems to wish he were. Johnny wrestles a a long squash match while these knuckleheads try to get him over. This is the longest I've ever heard anyone talk about Johnny Smith. Brown likes him because he's a bad guy; the other guy sings his praises as an athlete while lamenting that he's fallen under the influence of the evil Arab Abu Weasel. Bulldog Bob Brown speaks English like it's his second language. He has issues with syntax. His idioms are off. "Getting on the bad track of Johnny Smith, you're in for a big, big trouble." You know what he's saying, but it's not how you would have said it. But he does provide us with fascinating insights into Johnny's personal life (he has girls chasing him. They hail not only from England, but also from Alberta and even British Columbia) and his day-to-day routine (early morning run, two workouts with Dynamite Kid interrupted by a nap). Not much happens in the ring, and the narration is the main thing here. Smith does come off like a heel, despite constantly adjusting his trunks. I don't know what it is, but has a little bit of dickhead swagger here. I didn't think it was possible. He's still working on the kip-up routine at this point. Here he gets knocked down, but as Taylor comes off the ropes, he kips up and clotheslines him. Pretty nifty. The other highlight of the match was the ref giving Johnny a yellow card. BBB and I are once again on the same page. We both like Johnny Smith, and we both think yellow cards in a wrestling match are dumb.
  9. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Stan Hansen/Johnny Smith vs. Dan Kroffat/Doug Furnas (AJPW 10/21/1995) This all seems so familiar. They ran the same match back in January, and they don't change the formula. To quote some nerd who's watched a lot of Johnny Smith matches, "Hansen runs over the Can-Ams like they're a couple of AWA title belts, and Smith wrestles them," and that's the template this time out as well. Stan really does shrug off a lot of stuff these guys do to him, but he at least reacts to the standard anti-Hansen technique of working on his arm. I'm not sure if this is the right term, but I always enjoys Hansen's naturalism. Non-formalism. I don't know what the word is, but here's an example: Furnas is trying to procure an armbar on him. Hansen gets to the ropes, but the Can-Ams are cheating in this match, so Furnas doesn't let go while Kroffat steps on his head. Hansen winds up just kicking Furnas in the back with the side of his boot. It's not, you know, a move. It's not something he learned when they broke him in or practiced before the show. It doesn't even actually look all that good, but it does look real. Also familiar is the finish, in which Hansen lariats both of his opponents into immobility and wins all by himself with Johnny not even bothering to get in the ring. This is what they did against Kawada and Omori (or, I suppose, will do against Kawada and Omori since that match is a year and a half in the future), and it's great this time too. This was better than either of the matches I'm comparing it to, mainly because Furnas and Kroffat are being evil. This spices up the work and makes their comeuppance all the more satisfying.
  10. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs. Johnny Ace/Sunny Beach (AJPW Real World Tag League 12/6/1991) I'd never heard of Sunny Beach in my life until I saw the Dark Side of the Ring episode about Herb Abrams, and here he is carrying an honest-to-God beach ball to the ring with him. Putting him together with Ace is a lot like making Johnny Smith Dynamite's partner when you can't get Davey Boy. Shane Douglas had other things to do, so Sunny Beach is the third Dynamic Dude. But this is all about Dynamite Kid, who announced his retirement before the match. As you would expect, he gets streamers and lots of applause. They get this over with so we can start the festivities. It's not even six minutes in before DK headbutts Beach, and suddenly the ring is full of guys in All Japan Pro Wrestling tracksuits bearing gifts. Baba comes in with gold, Jumbo has a handshake and myrrh, and Misawa actually smiles when he hands over the frankincense. Everyone else mobs Dynamite while he fights back tears and says "domo" to everyone, and they throw him in the air three times. It was actually pretty touching. Dynamite did mostly retire. He came back for two matches alongside Johnny in 1993, both of which we reviewed earlier (he looked bad). He did some shows in England and one match in Michinoku Pro in 1996. He made a hell of a contribution to this little project and the Fujinami one, and I'm going to miss him.
  11. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (AJPW Real World Tag League 11/16/1991) I'm thrilled to get a Jumbo appearance. Early 90s Jumbo is one of my favorite wrestlers, and there's something about his entrance music's thumping disco bassline accompanied by the promise of imminent violence . . . It's night one of the tag league, and the crowd is mad at Taue. They boo him during the introductions and at several points in the match. I wasn't too fond of him by the time it was over - every single thing he does looks bad - but this seemed like something else. Anyone know anything about it? Dynamite once again doesn't care that he's a head shorter than everyone. Jumbo gets punched. Taue gets punched. Jumbo gets headbutted twenty times in a row (I thought Dynamite was about to get disqualified). Johnny, meanwhile, just isn't violent enough. Dynamite dropkicks Jumbo before the before the bell and chases him outside, while Smith just kind of strolls over and locks up with Taue. Later, DK stomps Taue into the mat to the delight of the audience. He tags in Johnny, who gently picks Taue up and tries to cradle him. Come on, man, do something violent! The paying customers want to see Taue hurt for whatever reason. Give them what they want! It's interesting to watch the evolution of Smith's signature sequence. Fully developed it goes: Top rope dropkick Kip-up Arm pump Clothesline It always gets a pop, and its predictability let's them play around with it - by the end, that clothesline gets countered more often than not. But back in '91, it wasn't fully developed, and we only get: Top rope dropkick Kip-up Anyway, after Dynamite's gotten his licks in, Jumbo puts Smith away with a big boot and a backdrop. It was rad. Jumbo was rad.
  12. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs. Dan Kroffat/Doug Furnas (AJPW 4/20/1991) Only four minutes of this. Kroffat gets his back worked over, but when it's time to get his shit in acts like it never happened. The Brits act like they're in Stampede, cheating and stomping, until Dynamite takes a silly bump on a kick from Kroffat – was he taking the piss? - and Furnas gets Smith with the Frankensteiner. The play-by-play guy was going nuts for the finish, which was pretty nice, but I was too annoyed at Kroffat to enjoy it.
  13. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (AJPW 3/29/1991) Johnny actually keeps up with Dynamite in the viciousness department here. He steals Dynamite's body language on a nasty clothesline (and later steals his fake brother's running powerslam). He slams Kikuchi on the timekeeper's table, and then DK stands on the table next to it and headbutts him through it. There's just something about Kikuchi that brings the monster out of people who aren't even Dynamite Kid. As is customary, most of this match is people beating the hell out of Kikuchi while the crowd cheers for him. There's a huge pop when he finally backdrops out of a piledriver attempt and tags in Kawada, but things could have gone better from there. Dynamite and Kawada run into each other a couple times until Dynamite tags in Smith, which ruins the momentum of the hot tag. He should have let Kawada beat on him a bit. They never really get the momentum back. We have an 80s WWF tag match moment toward the end. Kawada comes into to try to save his partner, but the ref is so concerned with getting him back in his corner that he somehow misses Smith superplexing Kikuchi off the top to set up the diving headbutt. Not bad, but it seemed like it was going to better. Smith didn't look completely out of place as a heel for once.
  14. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Dynamite Kid/Johnny Smith vs. Stan Hansen/Dan Spivey (AJPW 10/7/1990) We're going back in time for a bit. Johnny's back in the Union Jack and hanging out with Dynamite. I can't believe how hot this crowd is. Smith is introduced first, and the response had me thinking, "They love Johnny!" As we proceed through the introductions, I realized that they love everything. This looks like a mismatch. Hansen is a large man, and Spivey is really, really tall; if one British Bruiser sat on the other's shoulders, he could maybe look Spivey in the eyes. So it was surprising to see just how evenly they work. They don't even try to do any size mismatch spots - nothing where, like, Stan tries to grab Dynamite but he slips behind him. They just wrestle like they're all more or less the same size. Dynamite should look ridiculous trying to fight Spivey, but he makes it convincing through the force of his own malevolence. The one spot that does look silly is an attempted spike piledriver on Spivey. Smith gets him up, but Dynamite can't reach much above his waist on the spike. Spivey is very tall. These fans love everything, but they extra love Dynamite (they didn't know him personally). They're cheering hard for the upset and chanting "Kid-o! Kid-o!" When that quiets down, Johnny hops up on the ropes and yells "Kid-o!" to get it started again. He knows his audience. The finish comes when Hansen, sick of these Englishmen, tries to end Smith with a lariat despite not being the legal man. But Dynamite trips him up, and he falls outside. It looks like they're setting up the upset, but Spivey puts Smith away with a DDT. This was awesome. It was nice to see Hansen in his prime again, when he never stopped moving or kicking ass. The crowd was MVP this time out. I don't think that I've seen a Spivey match since Waylon Mercy; he did not look out of place if you ignore his attire (red boots and extremely long purple tights - goddamn is that guy tall).
  15. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Ace/Johnny Smith/Wolf Hawkfield vs. Giant Kimala/Headhunters (AJPW 7/24/1998) I really thought I'd get through this without seeing the Mushroom Boys, but here are Swedenhouse and Ponderosa in the flesh, making up two-thirds of the fattest tag team I've ever seen. We start with a heat segment on Johnny Ace that's . . . actually pretty good. Kimala's gimmick kinda works when the crowd is playing along. Tonight we have a big house in the Budokan, and they're having a good time with it. You wouldn't have expected it, but these two work well together. Another good thing about this match is that our boy gets to show off. Smith surprises everyone by suplexing Kimala, and then he really gets to flex by winning the match with a German suplex hold on a Headhunter. (Is it B? Or is it A? We'll never know.) Sure, he jumped into it a little bit - he may be a savage Arab wild man from Puerto Rico, but he's still a pro - but it's an impressive visual nonetheless. This isn't the kind of match you go into with large expectations, but hell - they kept it moving, Kimala worked his ass off, and we all had a good time. I agree with a Google-translated YouTube comment: "It was more interesting than I expected!"
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