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William Bologna

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  1. William Bologna

    Current New Japan

    Jay White made an interesting observation about accents: He pointed out that Americans talk with really open mouths. And sure enough, if I try to talk while opening my mouth as little as possible, it sounds kind of like a New Zealand accent. This also explains why, as an American, singers tend not to sound foreign when they're singing. When I was a kid, it blew my mind when I found out the Beatles were English.
  2. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    I don't have that match - it's not on the Network or anything. I could see Smith being a good foil for RVD. I knew what I was in for when I picked the world's most obscure wrestler, but the record is so spotty. I can't even find that 2000 Carnival match against Kobashi anymore.
  3. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Genichiro Tenryu/Yoji Anjo/Koki Kitahara/Arashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Johnny Smith/Nobutaka Araya/George Hines (AJPW 10/18/2001) Weird gimmick in this match. Kitahara and Arashi are the All Asia champs; Tenryu and Anjo awkwardly won the World titles last time. Both sets of championships are on the line, but don't ask me how it works beyond that. There's a lot of intensity in Korakuen tonight. There's a dude reading the official title match proclamation at the beginning, and he reads the hell out of it. I didn't understand a word, but I was already all revved up. Then Kodo Fuyuki shows up, grabs the mic, and yells something until Kawada kicks him off the apron. Fuyuki's dragged away while Kawada and Tenryu start clubbering and the fans throw streamers. We're off! Tenryu acts like a total dick throughout this. He whips Araya into the barricade, then drops a chair on him and boots him in the face. This sets the tone for poor Araya, who winds up being the main punching bag. It's nice to see Kawada energized. He's been pretty checked out in every appearance he's made throughout this thing, but there's something about Fuyuki that just sets him off. Fuyuki makes another appearance during the match, and Kawada can't stop himself from running after him and beating him up on the floor surrounded by cameramen and Fuchi. The champs take turns beating up on Araya and then Anjo pins him after a knee, so we don't need to worry about the stipulation. This was clipped - we never saw Johnny Smith in the ring - but what we got was a lot of fun. Tenryu was great, Kawada was vicious, and Fuyuki may have been the MVP despite not being in the match. Even Arashi, in his XXXL-sized husky boy's Rikidozan pants, did a top rope dive that was really something to see. The word that most often comes to mind for post-split All Japan is dispirited. Everything's dim and bored and boring. This was a thrilling exception.
  4. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Taiyo Kea vs. Genichiro Tenryu/Yoji Anjo (AJPW 7/14/2001) Tenryu has brought in notorious shoot-style dickhead Yoji Anjo to be his partner as he mounts a quest for the tag titles. They're a fun team, in that they're both dickheads who hit guys really hard. If you have some kind of beef with Taiyo Kea or especially with Johnny Smith, this is the match for you. Our boys really get put through it this time out. The psychology revolves around the punch. It's against the rules, but not so against the rules that you're going to get disqualified for it. Tenryu and Anjo exploit this gray area to, well, punch Johnny Smith a lot. They do get something of a comeuppance, as we wind up with both of the champions punching the downed challengers for a while, but it's not enough to stop a title change. This had its moments, but it wasn't actually good. I think some wires got crossed while they built to the finish, and everything seems off. Maybe Smith got a concussion or something. The finish, Anjo defeating Smith with a spinebuster, looked improvised. Something went wrong.
  5. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Taiyo Kea vs. Manabu Nakanishi/Yutaka Yoshie (AJPW 6/8/2001) They're really milking this New Japan invasion thing. You can't blame them - they'd run through all two of the fresh matchups for Tenryu. What else is there? So once again we see foreigners in the role of stalwart defenders of Giant Baba's legacy. Which, once again, who else is there? They have Kawada, Fuchi, some guys who were in WAR six months ago, and the dudes they fly in. Smith has been there forever; Kea's never been anywhere else. So it's understandable that the regular AJPW Budokan crowd is more inclined to see them as the home team than Araya and Okumura or whoever. Today they're defending the tag titles against a couple interlopers as part of what looks like a pretty hot AJ vs. NJ card. Kawada vs. Tenzan. Muto vs. Tenryu for the titles. The long-awaited showdown between Team 2000 and the Varsity Club. It's pretty good. It's very snug, and the crowd is into it. They hate these New Japan bastards, and I don't think Johnny's arm pump has ever gotten a bigger pop. It's nice to hear after that Tokyo Dome debacle, where the crowd reaction was so lacking that I frankly felt embarrassed for the West Texas Rednecks and their brother-in-law. Nakanishi does some fun power stuff, including throwing his partner into an opponent and then getting down and counting the pin along with the ref. Yoshie is known for being fat and pink. Here he's not very fat and not pink at all, but he does have the worst haircut since Johnny Smith's Mongol job back in '89. It looks like if you signed up at the monastery but the dude who does the tonsures was drunk that day. Kea has branding now. He's got orange-red gear and a really nifty sun logo, but he's not there yet. His body language is hesitant, and he does nothing with authority. He is over, though. The finish is abrupt. Kea makes a comeback, Smith runs over and grabs Nakanishi, and Kea polishes off Yoshie. Huge pop. So yeah, pretty good, and really helped by the crowd's enthusiasm. I do think there was some untapped noise in that audience. Someone more practiced at getting emotion out of them could have gotten things really loud. So, All Japan wins this installment of the feud. They won most of them actually: Williams and Rotundo felled Team 2000. Nagai and Kakihara made sure the All Asia Tag titles stayed home. Kawada beat Tenzan. But New Japan got the last laugh, as Muto won the Triple Crown from Tenryu. But then All Japan got the laster laugh when they poached Muto and some other guys. But then New Japan got the even laster laugh after that when Muto proceeded to run All Japan right into the goddamn ground.
  6. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Jim Steele/George Hines vs. Curt Hennig/Barry Windham/Mike Rotundo (AJPW 1/28/2001) All Japan has to put on a Tokyo Dome show, and they decide to capitalize on the popularity of Jurassic Park by trotting out a bunch of dinosaurs. Onita. Abdullah. Kim Duk. Santo & Mil. The Destroyer. Seiji Sakaguchi. Terry Funk. And these three. Between September of 1998 and right here, all four of the West Texas Rednecks worked in All Japan (Curly Bill doesn't count). Both Windhams were in the recent tag league, and IRS won the damn thing with Dr. Death. Tenryu was a weird booker, and this card is Exhibit B. Exhibit A is having VK Wallstreet win the tag league. On the other side of the ring, we see that Jim Steele is no longer a video game character, but he manages to look sillier without the gimmick. Sega may have decided on his gear when he was Wolf Hawkfield, but he picked out these zebra print tights all on his own. George Hines is the poor man's Johnny Smith: Having hung around the mid-card for years, he was thrust into relative prominence when the talent left. Like Johnny, he's pretty good and may have deserved better than he got. The match is fifteen minutes of nothing much. Hennig's timing is all off. He does try a little bit, but everything looks bad. He sets Johnny up for a big comeuppance clothesline, but he starts falling over before it makes contact for a swing and a miss. Barry Windham isn't real interested in the proceedings. He'd rather sit in holds than let Steele get his shit in (I'm not saying that this isn't what you should do with Jungle Jim Steele). Mike "Rotundo" Rotunda is actually pretty good. He's in shape, he's moving well, and he sets things up. He momentarily outsmarts Hines and makes this great, maniacal Bruce Campbell face, resulting in a crowd pop when Hines gives him his comeuppance. He spent more time in All Japan than I thought - he winds up working a pretty full schedule for the next couple years, and he's clearly more comfortable in this environment than either of his partners. The highlight of this match is when the announcer calls Smith Johnny Ace and then corrects himself. I don't know Japanese or anything, but it was pretty obvious, and his embarrassment bridged the divide between languages and cultures. Eventually, and to near-total silence, Steele hits Windham with a really bad Doctor Bomb for the win, which prompts "Machinehead" by Bush to start playing. As if the match weren't bad enough! This was lame, very much in keeping with the rest of the card. We get no title matches. Tenryu has to be in the drama-free main event, after all (Kawada/Tenryu vs. Sasaki/Hase - gee, I wonder who's going to take the fall in that one!). Taiyo Kea's busy, so we don't have a tag title match - someone needs to job to Muto. This is not only All Japan's biggest show of the year, it will wind up being their biggest show the decade, century, millennium, and geological era. It's astonishing that this was the best they could do. The Dome was half full (or, I suppose, half empty), and they never came back.
  7. William Bologna

    Comments that don't warrant a thread - Part 4

    I recently had a dream where I decided to throw a party for Johnny Smith, but I wasn't very good at putting it together and felt bad about how lame the party was (fortunately, Johnny didn't mind. He had a beer and told us Steve Williams stories). I'm more than a little disappointed in my subconscious for going with something so obvious.
  8. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Taiyo Kea vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Taiyo Kea (AJPW 1/14/2001) I had to dig up a VCR for this one. I felt like a damn archaeologist. It belongs in a museum! The tag team titles remain vacant, but they don't bother to have a tournament for this one (maybe New Japan wasn't willing to send over enough guys for them to do it without the Cedman). I guess these two teams top the All Japan Power Rankings. We don't get much of it. It's odd - as I was forwarding fast, I saw all kinds of dreadful stuff in complete form. Stan Hansen's last match was uncut, but for this we get introductions and then a couple minutes of action out of a 24 minute match. Kawada's barely in it. We know some things happened. Fuchi's chest is spangled with exploded blood vessels, and Smith has blood coming out of his mouth. Anyway, Tenryu uses his one All Japan booking trick: Make them think Kawada's going to win and have him lose. They take turns beating up on Fuchi, Kea Hawaiian Crushes him, and the celebrations begin. It's awkward. Smith and Kea interact like they've never met. They do the classic move where one guy goes for a handshake and the other one goes for a high five and they run into each other before they figure it out. Both men have their hands full with two belts each, but then someone hands them trophies, and they have to improvise. We get a backstage interview. Johnny tells us that this is what happens if you never give oop. Kea says some cusses (on his opponents: "Tough fuckin' guys. Shit."). Johnny did it! An All Japan regular since 1989, he finally wins some gold (the All Asia titles don't count). This is just the beginning for Kea, who would wind up winning these belts seven times with seven different partners. I'm happy for the guys, but All Japan has never looked lower rent (excluding any matches involving the Cedman). The half-assed attempts at pomp emphasized how far they've fallen.
  9. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    The only thing I can think of is a singles match against Kengo Kimura where he jumps Kimura when his back is turned and whines to the ref about Kengo using closed fists, which he wasn't. He's kind of a jerk in that one. I looked around to see if he played the bad guy during a guest spot in another promotion, but no dice. I dug up a WAR match from 1993 - Fujinami/Hase vs. Tenryu/Ishikawa - where Hase tries to get some heat going, but Fujinami was a perfect gentleman. He gets some boos when he breaks up a pin, but that's it. He even yells something into the mic after the match, but that only gets him respectful applause.
  10. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith VS Michiyoshi Ohara (AJPW 10/21/2000) Team 2000 invades All Japan! New Japan's unlicensed NWO successor group is here, and it's their year! Can Johnny Smith defend his adopted home against Michiyoshi "No Not Goto The Other One" Ohara? I'll say this: Ohara does his best to make everyone hate him. He gives the fans the bird. He spits at Johnny. He kicks him in the dick. Smith brings a little, but only a little, of the kind of anger you like to see in this kind of scenario. He does get all mad when Ohara spits at him, but other than that he displays the same bland friendliness that Joey Styles had to announce around in that Taz rematch. It's a decent little match. They do some solid enough matwork, and Ohara's wrongdoing keeps it from being boring. Johnny defends Giant Baba's memory with a British Fall.
  11. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Masanobu Fuchi/Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Stan Hansen/Steve Williams/Wolf Hawfield (AJPW 10/28/2000) It's not the worst five minutes I've ever seen. It's not even the worst five minutes I've seen from All Japan Pro Wrestling in October 2000. Fujiwara tries to do some stuff with Hawkfield, continuing his streak of doing something cool in every match I've ever seen him in. Smith gets the win with a British Fall on his old partner, who gets to stop pretending to be a video game character next month. The memorable thing is that this is Stan Hansen's last match, and I'm not capable of giving him the sendoff he deserves. Hansen has been the MVP of this project, it's not close, and we didn't even see him until he was in his mid-40s. Every time he's in there, he does something that adds to the match. We've been sitting through some pretty uninteresting six man tags lately. We've seen how boring these people can be when there's not a dynamo like Stan keeping things moving. He never stops working. He never stops convincing you that he wants to win these matches. He yells, he throws up the horns, and he hits guys hard enough to get himself arrested in any other context. The Johnny Smith Project ran into some hard times when we were stuck in Calgary; things got better once we got to Japan, but they didn't get great until we hit the stretch of randomly-paired foreigners pitted against one another over and over, and that's because Hansen was usually there. He was the straw the stirred the drink, and he was also the huge, ill-tempered fake cowboy that blasted people with lariats. He was right to get out when he did. I watched this and his penultimate match, in the Triple Crown tournament against his old buddy Tenryu. I wish I hadn't. His body let him down, as everyone’s does sooner or later, and I don't think he was selling when he appeared to be in a lot of pain. It wasn't a fun watch. He seems to have done well since. He took over the James Blears role for while, awkwardly reading from a piece of paper before title matches. He wrote a book, did some shoot interviews, and every once in a he while flies to Japan and gets his picture taken with Kenta Kobashi. It could be worse. In wrestling, it nearly always is. Things worked out for Stan Hansen, and you can't say he didn't earn it.
  12. William Bologna

    The End Of CHIKARA

    I was at that show. Chikara guys had been showing up at the local indy shows, and they were clearly a cut above. The Osirian Portal in particular got over like crazy. I was thrilled when we got a full-fledged Chikara show at the Du Burns, and I had a blast, but they never came back.
  13. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith vs. Shiro Koshinaka (AJPW 10/14/2000) All Japan is discovering - not by choice - that you can still run wrestling shows without any talent. The problem is that they don't have any champions. No one thought to have Mossman put Kobashi in a sharpshooter and then ring the bell back in June before everyone left. He could have shown up on Noah TV and thrown all three of those belts in the trash! So they have to run a tournament, and man is it slim pickings: Mike Barton Stan Hansen Toshiaki Kawada Shiro Koshinaka Jinsei Shinzaki Johnny Smith Genichiro Tenryu Steve Williams New Japan sent over Koshinaka so they wouldn't have to put the Cedman in it, but they still can't come up with eight guys without including Smith and Shinzaki. They have Hansen, but he's 50. (To be fair, Tenryu's also 50, but being 50 didn't seem to affect Tenryu.) So in the first round we get Smith vs. Koshinaka, and it's terrible! I don't get it. This is kind of a big match, but neither one of them acts like it. They roll around and then Koshinaka hits Smith with his ass a couple times and powerbombs him. I was looking forward to this, but that was before I realized that not only does late-2000 AJPW not have many good wrestlers, it also makes the good ones crappy. I want my money back, you lazy dicks.
  14. William Bologna

    Johnny Smith

    Johnny Smith/Mike Barton/The Cedman vs. Taiyo Kea/Jinsei Shinzaki/Mohammed Yone (AJPW 9/2/2000) You'd be hard pressed to put together a more late-2000 All Japan match than this one. Maybe throw in a Tenryu crony from WAR. Gran Naniwa. Some old guy. We get five minutes of entrances here, most of which is Jinsei Shinzaki getting the full Buddhist Undertaker treatment. Once again: I love everything about it. The man is focused spiritually, and his traps are enormous. He comes out alone - Kea and Yone have to wait because they're not monks. Dynamite Kid told a story (I got it from Wikipedia) that Johnny Smith was such a nice guy that when a fan made him a vest that said "Jhonny," he went ahead and wore it. I think he's wearing it tonight. Mike Barton was in a peculiar situation as far as how to work. His claim to fame is that he knocked Steve Williams out in the Brawl for All and made Jim Ross blubber into his hat (Doc's on the card tonight, by the way. I wonder if they ever hung out or anything). So he's got a glove on his left hand, because it's the mighty weapon that felled Doctor Death. Watch out for the hand! Don't let him punch you with it! The problem is that dudes punch each other all the time in a wrestling match, and it almost never means anything. He can't punch because it would win him the match, a situation that's pretty rough on the old suspension of disbelief. He has to work around something he should be doing constantly, so he winds up doing all these chops, and it's like he has to stop himself from just punching. He has to save the punch for special occasions, one of which comes here when he slugs Yone in the stomach and powerbombs him for the win. Also he's boring. This wasn't any good. Maybe the participants lacked familiarity with one another, or maybe they just weren't that good. Most of these guys are fine, but there was no one driving things and making it interesting. Johnny Smith is again the most popular man in the match, but that's not saying much. The fans don't enjoy this any more than I do, but at least we get a little pop for the arm pump. This should be noted: Cedman does not screw up. I'm actually impressed. We saw him just last week messing up several times in a five minute clip. Here he wrestles three different guys, and he doesn't blow a single thing. I guess he's learning.