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William Bologna

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  1. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Challenge Spirit '85 September 18, 1985 Fukuoka Sports Center Antonio Inoki&Tatsumi Fujinami VS Giant Machine&Super Machine With special guest referee Lou Thesz! I guess this match is a bigger deal than it seems. Super Machine is Bill Eadie, they tell me. He's not any good. Andre's not any good in this either, and he's usually awesome. The match isn't any good. Inoki isn't any good. There are about 40 seconds combined of cool stuff here, which I'll get to in a minute. The Machines, who are really missing Hirata here, spend most of their time holding Inoki and Fujinami down and doing unconvincing rest holds on them. It felt like a WWF match - Andre even busts out the double noggin-knocker (they no-sell it). Fujinami is just great when they let him do anything. He takes over on the smaller but still pretty large Machine and starts going a mile a minute like he did back then. Top rope shin drop, explosive drop kick . . . and then he's stymied by a bear hug. As if that weren't bad enough, Andre shuffles over and they do the worst double-team maneuver I've ever seen. While Super Machine holds the victim in a bear hug, Giant Machine waves his mighty arm vaguely in Fujinami's direction. Come on, Andre. I know it's a lot of effort to get yourself in a position whence your arm can reach the guy, but it would have looked a lot better if you had. They then do it to Inoki, and it doesn't look any better. Pretty disappointed in Andre here. I guess he figures we won't know it's him because of the mask. So that earlier cool part was 35 seconds, and the other 5 comes at the finish. Andre and Inoki brawl outside, and Fujinami backslides Eadie for the win. It was fast and crisp, and everyone was so excited afterwards. That was cool. The rest of this was garbage.
  2. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1985 Other matches August 3, 1985 Aloha Stadium Tatsumi Fujinami&Kengo Kimura VS Gene Lewis&Gary Fulton Whole different feel here as the Fujinami Show goes Hawaiian. This is a big NWA show (Polynesian Hot Summer Night! - Here's a newspaper article about it) in Hawaii, and I wondered about the crowd. They give the swole ref a nice hand when he's introduced. They boo the Americans and cheer Kimura and Fujinami. They even seem to know who Fujinami is - they pop when he tags in the first time. So I don't know. Were they just polite, or was the crowd full of tape traders and vacationing Japanese? Is Giant Baba there? Is Maunakea Mossman? Actually, there's a pretty good chance Mossman is there, right? He's nine years old at this point. Curtis Iaukea was apparently his uncle, so he was wrestling-adjacent. I guess Taiyo Kea isn't a big enough deal that we get the Mick-Foley-watching-Superfly treatment when something like this happens. I detected a styles clash. I think Lewis and Fulton were trying to make Kimura the face in peril, but he decides it's Fujinami's turn and just walks over there while Lewis is beating him up. I think he was supposed to make that a little more dramatic. The result is that they're both faces in peril. The vast proportion of the match is the Americans beating up on one or another of these guys. They're in full heel mode, using the rings ropes as a garrote and yelling at the fans to shut up. Bad 80s finishes aren't only a problem on one side of the Pacific, it turns out, as we brawl outside and the bell rings. Everyone looks confused until the ring announcer comes in, mumbles something, and points at Fujinami and Kimura. Hail to the victors! This just didn't quite work. It was almost a traditional FIP-style tag match, except the faces weren't on board. The bad guys took almost all of the offense, but it didn't work as a giant vs. underdog thing because they weren't giants and cheated the whole time. If these guys worked together regularly, they probably could have done something nice. No one looked terrible, and there flashes of a good tag match. This probably wasn't the match that inspired Maunakea Mossman to be a pro wrestler.
  3. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Burning Spirit-in-Summer August 1, 1985, the two countries Kokugikan Tatsumi Fujinami VS Jimmy Snuka I'm kind of punting on this one. Snuka skeeves me out out, and I don't like looking at him. Even if I didn't know he was a (alleged) (probable) murderer, he's just off. If you pointed him out to me and said "Hey, that guy killed someone," I'd be all, "The roided out guy in the leopard print underpants and no shoes with the gross perm who's making weird faces that suggest he doesn't perceive the same reality that the rest of us do? Yeah, I can buy that." So I spent most of this match looking at a different tab, but it didn't seem like anything special. They roll around on the mat, and then they do some stuff. Snuka flexes and makes faces. This does give us probably the worst-botched Fujinami finish, and that's far from an empty category. It's supposed to be the old top rope bodypress rolled over into a pin by the other guy. I can't even describe how they mess it up. Fujinami lands on Snuka, but his momentum takes him too far. He has a slide back over while Snuka clings to his legs. Fujinami makes a bridge over him for a moment before Snuka rolls him over and gets the pin. I'm glad I wasn't enjoying this match, because that would have ruined it. It's weird that Fujinami, who's so good at so many things, has all these awful screw-ups at the ends of matches.
  4. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1985 Other matches May 31, 1985 Omiya City Gymnasium Antonio Inoki&Tatsumi Fujinami&Kengo Kimura VS Dick Murdoch&Adrian Adonis&King Kong Bundy This is like a stress test. "OK, you four had a pretty good match last week. Let's see what happens if we add a couple of stiffs." I'm going to nitpick extensively about Inoki: Inoki's done this thing a couple times, and I don't like it. Before the match starts, he'll get all mad at someone on the other side and make one of his teammates hold him back. "Let me go, Kengo! I'ma get this fool!" "No, Antonio! It's not worth it!" As if he's going to face repercussions for starting a fight half a minute before it was going to start anyway. I think he missed Murdoch trying to build some drama. Captain Redneck is at whom Inoki is woofing pre-match, and he looks like he's going to be first guy for his team, but when we start, Adonis is in there. I think Murdoch was trying to do the thing where he teases us with the matchup we want to see, but Inoki wasn't paying enough attention to do anything with it. He also misses an opportunity when Bundy comes in. Everyone's been in the ring and exchanged headlocks except Bundy, who's obviously the most imposing man in the match. As soon as he tags in, Inoki runs over there as fast as a he can and gives him a martial hug. What he should have done was back off and maybe try to look intimidated or at least concerned at how he was going to address this threat. He's not good at subtleties. Oh, and at one point Kimura does what's probably a cool sunset flip to Adonis, but we miss it because the camera's showing us Inoki. This may be slightly unfair to Antonio even by my standards, but if I can blame Gedo for the state of NJPW World, I feel comfortable pinning this one on the boss. I liked Bundy! He moved well enough, used his bulk effectively, had some solid offense (including a really vicious-looking kneedrop), and showed some personality. Kimura took his time on a clean break, so Bundy just shoved him away and yelled at him. He hit Fujinami with a splash, but Kimura came in to break up the pin. Not missing a beat, Bundy transitioned into a headlock and took a minute to admonish the ref (swole, WWF polo) for not being able to control things. It's no surprise that Murdoch was great, but he was extra great this time. He's as good at the little things as Inoki is bad at them. In an early exchange, I said to myself, "Man, he's giving Kimura nothing." Kengo was trying to wrestle or whatever, but Murdoch wasn't interested, preferring to hit Kimura really hard over and over. Ten minutes later, the crowd pops huge as Kimura takes the upper hand and hits that leg lariat, which of course Murdoch sells like he was murdered. We wind up with an out of control, chair-swinging brawl leading to a DCOR, but it was OK. Things had been heating up enough that everyone losing their temper didn't feel perfunctory. I may be getting Stockholm syndrome with these terrible 80s finishes, though. I enjoyed this. Bundy turned out not to be a stiff after all, and for all his faults, Inoki is pretty good at getting beaten up and then looking angry about it. The participants played to their strengths.
  5. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1985 Other matches May 24, 1985 Kobe World Memorial Hall Tatsumi Fujinami&Kengo Kimura VS Dick Murdoch&Adrian Adonis This is what I was waiting for when I saw that Gedo added a whole new pile of Fujinami matches and realized that I'm never going to be done with this (this thread turned two years old a couple months ago. It has a favorite dinosaur and is speaking in intelligible sentences. Mostly about dinosaurs). This is for the vacant WWF International Tag Team Championship, which is made up even by the standards of pro wrestling titles. Still, our play by play man does his best to convince us that they're important. I can't understand half of what he's saying, but the other half is "WWF" and "New York." Look at what an insider this guy is, referring to the WWF as "New York." Yeesh. The titles on the line may be extra fictitious, but this is an event. Flowers handed out, and Adonis sets the tone by throwing his at Kimura. It's already getting chippy out there. It's a good match, and the crowd is pumped for every Murdoch/Fujinami exchange. After a pair of dueling backdrops (which Fujinami would re-use against Vader), Fujinami plays face in peril for a while. But we really get to see Dick Murdoch shine after a dropkick and a hot tag leads to Kengo Kimura beating the hell out of him. He's just a master of showing sudden vulnerability, and he makes Kimura look like a buzzsaw. That's been a theme here: People selling like crazy for Kimura. Were there plans for this guy that never panned out? People act like his leg lariat hurts more than anything Hase ever did. He's treated with more respect than you would expect for someone with his resume. This is a long match, and it reveals Murdoch's one weakness: Stamina. He holds Fujinami up for a Davey Boy-ish amount of time (revealing more of the Dragon's bikini zone than I ever wanted to see) and then just collapses. It counts as a brainbuster, but only technically. He can't quite get Fujinami out of the ring a moment later, and Adonis has to help. This leads to the finish. They brawl, but our heroes get the foreigners to run into each other, whereupon Fujinami dashes back into the ring for the countout win. Adonis and Murdoch do not take this well. They grab the belts, kick the trophies, rip up the certificates, and generally throw a tantrum. Murdoch flings a trophy into the ring and almost hits Kimura, who looks legit surprised. They're finally dispatched with a belt shot and double dropkick, and these hallowed, prestigious tag team belts are presented to our heroes. The WWF International Tag Team Championship, by the way, had been deactivated 13 years prior to this and would again be deactivated in October. Kimura and Fujinami were the only champions. But it's OK because this was good.
  6. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1985 Other matches May 10, 1985 Fukuoka Sports Center Antonio Inoki&Tatsumi Fujinami VS Andr? the Giant&Jimmy Snuka Have you ever heard Meltzer go on and on about why Andre got over while Paul Wight never did? You know, Vince Senior made sure Andre was a special attraction, didn't overuse him, etc. etc. It's nonsense because it assumes that all giants are created equal. But you look at Andre and you look at Big Show, and you can see that statement is not true. Even when he's not doing a whole lot, Andre has this menacing but engaging presence. And he's good at this job, too. This match is all about Fujinami and Inoki taking turns trying to wear him down, and he is very convincingly worn down. You believe that these twerps are gradually getting to the giant. The other smart thing they do here is keep is short. You don't want the man out there for 20 minutes, so let's get to our annoying DQ finish quick. Snuka was barely in this. Or maybe I didn't notice him as much because he wasn't a bellowing evil giant.
  7. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Those sound pretty intriguing. We're in a chronologically coherent stretch now, and those will fit right in as we proceed (again) through the 80s.
  8. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Big Fight 2nd series In April 1985, 18 days Ryogoku Kokugikan Tatsumi Fujinami VS Strong Machine No.1 We've been getting a lot of Strong Machine content lately, and now they're multiplying. They're rolling five deep before the match starts: KY Wakamatsu is there accompanied by no fewer than four Strong Machines. But Strong Machines 3, 1, and 2 make themselves scarce before the action. I feel like I'm missing something culturally with Wakamatsu. What is he supposed to be? He's got a lab coat, bow tie, derby hat, Mardi Gras beads, a crucifix, a megaphone, and a whip. Did they spring it on him right before a show? "Hey, Inoki says we need a manager for these here robots. Go over to the lost and found and get an outfit together." But if it works it works, and KY earns his paycheck this time out. Fujinami and Machine have a solid 80s match - the kind of thing where they sit in holds, get up and do a highspot, and then go back to the holds. Whenever the crowd begins to quiet, Wakamatsu yells into his megaphone, and they're right back in it. It works every time. This is a longish match, and there's something about the pacing and SM's deliberate, bodyslam-intensive offense that makes it feel like it's happening in the background of a movie. Like, our hero meets an informant at the sumo hall and they have a tense conversation while Machine plays to the crowd behind them. That's not a complaint - this is real solid stuff. Junji Hirata (the ring name Strong Machine #1 settled on after he took off the mask) always surprises me with how good he is, and this is when Fujinami could still move. We get a really dramatic finish. Hirata has Fujinami in a waistlock, and Wakamatsu hops onto the apron and throws powder. Fujinami ducks, and Hirata takes the powder followed by a dragon suplex for the pin. It was so good one fan let the spirit of the sumo hall take over and threw his cushion into the ring. And here we begin to see cracks in the Machines/Wakamatsu partnership. Hirata is understandably upset at his manager's tomfoolery; they come to blows, and Wakamatsu leaves without his #1 Machine. Fujinami follows, and alone in the ring Hirata seems to be having something of a personal crisis. Does he rid himself of his mask and manager? Or is the way of the Machine too Strong? This man vs. machine struggle gets over like crazy, and we fade out to the thunderous din of every fan in the building chanting "HI-RA-TA!" I had no idea this was going to be so much fun.
  9. Hacks wouldn’t have imitated him if he did it badly.
  10. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    December 6, 1984 Hiroshima prefectural gymnasium Super heavyweight battle royal Fujinami and Murdoch are pulling double duty! Later in the same evening as their epic double count-out showdown, both are here for the Super Heavyweight Battle Royal! This is my kind of battle royal. It's five minutes long, they get the chumps out of there quick, and it tells a story which despite its brevity is full not only of twists but also of turns. Inoki sees KY Wakamatsu (whose name is Japanese for "Jimmy Hart") and a couple Strong Machines outside the ring and is so incensed that he eliminates himself going after them. The swole ref in the WWF polo really has to put his foot down about Antonio getting back in. It's like, yeah I gave you a pin on a two count last time, but the rules of the battle royal are sacred. I'll have to keep an eye out for this guy - we may never see him again after he crosses the boss like this. I gather that there's an issue between Fujinami/Kengo Kimura and Murdoch/Adrian Adonis. Kimura and Adonis eliminate each other like they're Eteocles and Polyneices before one of the seven gates of holy Thebes. The rest of the match tells the tale of Murdoch, Fujinami, and the near-literal elephant in the figurative room, Andre T. Giant. Andre is down, and Murdoch takes the unexpected but expedient route, motioning for Fujinami to cooperate with him in dumping the giant. The crowd is thrilled. But can Captain Redneck be trusted? You will not be surprised to learn that he cannot. He betrays his momentary ally but comes close to eliminating Andre accidentally as Fujinami ducks a double team maneuver. Murdoch recovers to dump Fujinami, only for Andre to bring things to an abrupt end by dropping Murdoch atomically with such force that he springs over the top rope. It hurts more when you're a giant. My heart sank when I saw there was a battle royal on the docket. The last one I saw was that time the Rock tried and failed to convince everyone that Roman Reigns was extremely tough and cool, so I'd soured on the whole concept. But this was a hoot. Five minutes. Told a story. Made Inoki look stupid. A triumph.
  11. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1984 Other matches December 6, 1984 Hiroshima prefectural gymnasium Tatsumi Fujinami VS Dick Murdoch Finally we get some Dick Murdoch! He's been hanging out in the margins of this project, even giving Fujinami a postmatch handshake at one point, but this is the first time we see him in action. He's awesome, of course. The match is built around his peerless punches. Fujinami gets a transition off blocking one and complains to the ref (resplendent in a WWF polo shirt) about them. The crowd is good but unusual. They're just loud in general. There's a high level of background noise, but they don't always react to the things you'd expect them to. There's a repeated chant that I don't understand, but at least they're enjoying themselves. Murdoch is a perfect opponent for Fujinami. Consider: Fujinami is at his best when he's getting hit really hard. Hashimoto, Tenryu, Dynamite - these are the guys who bring the fighting spirit out of him. He's a pretty colorless guy unless he's getting pasted in the face, and Murdoch is happy to oblige. He has a tendency to get overshadowed and eaten up when he's in the ring with a dominant personality. I love the Hogan matches, but you don't remember Fujinami's performance in them. Against Flair he's the proverbial broomstick. Murdoch, however, complements him. He's got all kinds of personality, but he uses cartoonish selling to make his opponent look like a badass. He's physically imposing in spite of his physique (he towers over Fujinami), and his offense is as believable as fake fighting can be, so it really means something when he switches gears and starts staggering around after getting punched. This is a lot of analysis for a ten minute match with a typical 80s non-finish (DCOR), but man is Dick Murdoch good. I liked this a lot, but I'm not objective about this guy. He's the gaijin Tenryu - I'd watch him order lunch and give it four stars.
  12. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    1984 Other matches November 30, 1984 Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium MSG Tag League Antonio Inoki&Tatsumi Fujinami VS Strong Machine No.1&Strong Machine No.2 This may look like a mismatch in the ring - you have a couple IWGP champions vs. Junji Hirata and some Korean guy - but the Machines have backup. KY Wakamatsu is yelling into his megaphone, and Hiro Saito is ready to make his presence felt. The good guys, meanwhile, have only a young, pimply Masa Chono in their corner. There's plenty of heat; the crowd is going banana as they brawl among the streamers, and the enthusiasm doesn't really let up. Not even when Inoki wraps a towel around his hand to punch a Machine. Must have been extra fighting spirit in it or something. Inoki is just not any good except when he's brawling (when he's really, really good). He lacks ring awareness or something. There's a spot where he gets one Machine (either 1 or 2) to run into the other one (either 2 or 1), and instead of following up, he just strolls in the direction of his corner while the Machine waits for him to do something. But it's far from the worst Inoki experience, since he keeps things moving and throws a lot of punches. The finish is very mid-80s sloppy. Whichever Machine loses (presumably the less Super Strong one) lands kind of under the ropes on an enzuigiri, so he has to move his hand and Inoki has to move his ass to stay in bounds for the pin, which I swear is only a two count. Different rules for the guy who owns the place. Hiro Saito immediately runs in, and we brawl again. One other thing about Inoki - in kayfabe, he's just an awful tag partner. Fujinami hit a dragon suplex, which got a huge pop from the crowd, the announcer, and me, and Inoki could barely be bothered to get into the ring to protect the pin attempt. Even worse is in the post-match brawl. Saito is choking Fujinami with a rope, and Inoki completely ignores it. He at least waits until Saito stops to raise his hands in triumph, but his partner's suffering is obviously not troubling him.
  13. William Bologna

    The Wednesday Night War

    Absolutely. They're clearly taking the long view on this, willing to put unknowns in the spotlight and resisting the urge to hotshot. It speaks well to management.
  14. William Bologna

    The Wednesday Night War

    Pulling out the “those other guys are fanboys!” card isn’t the best tactic after you’ve argued that your favorite promotion lost just cause WWE fans are teetotalers who stay at home knitting.
  15. William Bologna

    AEW Dynamite Week 9 - 27 Nov 2019

    Wardlow’s tie is a great touch.
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