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William Bologna

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    99 WRESTLING WORLD in Tokyo Dome January 4 Tokyo Dome, 1999 The second game New Japan Pro Wrestling vs. Ishingun Tadao Yasuda & Osamu Kido & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Michiyoshi Ohara & Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto We last saw Heisei Ishingun back in 1994, when Shiro Koshinaka defied expectations by defeating Fujinami and New Japan in a climactic seventh match to prove that, despite being a fake outsider faction full of lame-os, HI is in fact the greatest pro wrestling stable ever. To the extent that Heisei Ishingun has an A-team, we don't get it in this match. Kimura is here, but instead of Koshinaka we get Ohara and Goto. These two are, respectively, the Yoshi-Hashi of 90s New Japan and the Yoshi-Hashi of 90s New Japan. The home team didn't send its best to this one either (it's the second match on the card). Fujinami and Kido are great but old, and Yasuda is huge but useless. He moves like Manabu Nakanishi. And I mean current Nakanishi, where he's in obvious physical distress at all times. Kido looks just great here. He's working fast, and his stuff is smooth. He's four years old than Kimura, but Kengo looks decrepit. I stole this observation from something Ditch pointed out years ago, but these matches where Yasuda's the junior partner are odd if not quite interesting, since you don't expect the most physically imposing guy to be getting beaten on for most of the match. But that's the story they're telling, as Tadao is brutalized by his lilliputian opponents until he hits a Tiger Driver and a top rope body press on either Goto or Ohara (who cares?) to get the win. This was decent, even though the ringside cameraman cuts off half of everyone's head. (It's not just Yasuda, either - he does it with the short guys too.) Kido was great, Yasuda was pretty bad, and everyone else was somewhere in the middle.
  7. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    RISING THE NEXT GENERATIONS August 8, Osaka Dome, 1998 IWGP Heavyweight Championship bout Tatsumi Fujinami vs Masahiro Chono Chono has his NWO or Team 2000 or whatever pals in his corner. Fujinami has Osamu Nishimura's meek demeanor and receding hairline. And also the rest of him. This match is another example of why the tape traders liked All Japan. Matwork matwork matwork. Couple high spots. Chono wins the title with an STF. Fujinami won this title four months before this - why didn't we see that? He defended it a couple times. Why didn't we see those, and why did we see that meaningless ten minute match with Koshinaka that not even the participants cared about? This is getting boring again. Tenryu shows up a couple matches from now - maybe that will help. We get to see the NWO version of Irwin R. Schyster a bit after that. At this point, I'm looking forward to the worst parts of 90s US wrestling just to break up the monotony.
  8. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FIGHTING SPIRIT'98 Nakajima Sapporo February 8, 1998 Sports Center Tatsumi Fujinami VS Shiro Koshinaka This is a match that no one has been waiting for. After some pretty good slaps to open, Koshinaka does his stuff to absolute silence from the crowd in Sapporo. Fujinami gets more of a reaction, but things remain funereal. They pop when it looks like Fujinami's going to attempt a dive, but nah. That's cheap heat, brother - better to have Koshinaka whip Fujinami into the railings. They try to pick up the pace with some fast-paced matwork, but they keep screwing up. How many times have these guys wrestled each other? You'd think they could cooperate on a headlock. Fujinami gets the win after they sit in a figure four for a while until Koshinaka decides he's had enough. That's makes two of us, chimpy. There is no reason for anyone ever to watch this match.
  9. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FINAL POWER HALL in Tokyo Dome January 1998 4 days Tokyo Dome The fourth game Osamu Nishimura triumphal return match, Tag Match Osamu Nishimura & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi All four of these guys are still wrestling. Nishimura, who's from the Kido school of guys who look like middle management and are named Osamu, doesn't get much of a reaction for his triumphal return match. This is his return from Europe, by the way. The cancer was a little later. Nishimura pulls off his robe to reveal an NWO shirt! No can believe it! And then he throws it into the crowd and it's like it never happened. Probably I'm missing something about this super hot angle. Fujinami's looking older (we've fast-forwarded nearly a year since the last match), but he's always in remarkable shape. Nakanishi's the big muscle man in this match, but the old man is right there with him Nishimura has maybe the best elbows I've ever seen. Like, as far as time-killing throwaway elbows go (as opposed to Misawa-style big windup KO elbows). They're great! He shouldn't ever do anything else (his non-drop kicks are terrible)! He's the Dick Murdoch of elbows. There's less rolling around than I expected from Nishimura's triumphant return. It's all very standard stuff. Good enough, if you're in the mood for this kind of thing. So they have a basic New Japan tag match, everyone gets to do some cool stuff, and Nishimura returns triumphantly with a Northern Lights Suplex on Kojima. Later in this show, Choshu has five retirement matches and there are a couple fake shoot fights. This might be the best thing on the show!
  10. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    FIGHTING SPIRIT'97 February 1997 9 days Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center Tadao Yasuda & Osamu Kido & Hashimoto Shinya VS Akira Nogami & Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura What was the point of Tadao Yasuda? He gets no reaction during the introductions, and he's Roland Bock-level awkward. What, indeed, is the point of this match? There are two interesting things that happen: 1. Just as the two participants no one cares about lock up (Nogami gets a Yasuda-esque reaction), the lights go off. We don't see Sabu in the in the ring when they come back on. Kengo Kimura's not covered in mystery blood. So I guess the lights just went off. 2. Kido, Hashimoto, and Yasuda each take a turn jumping off the top rope onto Nogami's stomach. That was kind of fun. Kimura pins Yasuda after a leg whip to the face, and I'm left wondering once again how they decide what goes on NJPW World.
  11. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    97WRESTLING WORLD IN Tokyo Dome January 4 Tokyo Dome, 1997 10TH MATCH IWGP Tag Team Championship match Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono vs Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami Seiji Sakaguchi is out to do the official announcements, and he's still an intimidating-looking fellow. Hiro Saito (I think) doesn't want to hand over the belts, which sets the tone of lukewarm bad sportsmanship on the part of the champs. The theme is failed double teams. Both teams do the thing where one guy holds up an opponent for his partner to blast but instead gets blasted himself. Tenzan comes off the top to break up a dragon sleeper but lands on Chono. In fact, our heroes win when Kimura finally hits his leg lariat (which is again treated like a killer move throughout - Chono and Fujinami both get nailed with and respond unfavorably) while Fujinami holds up Chono. Fujinami capitalizes with a backdrop and a dragon sleeper while Old Man Kimura shuffles over to stop Tenzan, and we have new (old) tag team champions! The sounds cuts off immediately, and it's 1997, so Fujinami must be using "Semi-Charmed Life" again. The leadup to the finishing stretch was dull. The younger guys aren't good, and the gooder guys aren't young (Kimura in particular is showing his age - he's starting to hunch over a little bit). Things picked up during the lengthy build to the finish, so I don't feel like it wasted my time completely. This site's thread on what was going on elsewhere at the same time (this match didn't make the cut) does make you wonder why anyone would decide to watch this instead of All Japan or Shotgun Saturday Night.
  12. William Bologna

    Current New Japan

    I would have been more on board with this if the match were better. It's really too bad about the finish. Should have been a bigger moment. Kevin Kelly after White's speech: "A hush has fallen over the crowd!" Nah, man. That hush didn't just get there. Place was dead the whole time.
  13. William Bologna

    Current New Japan

    That Suzuki vs. Sanada match was really something. Sanada's getting better. In their 2017 G1 match, Suzuki kept feeding him babyface comeback spots, but Sanada didn't have the personality to do anything with them. A year and a half later, and he's learned how to be compelling without sacrificing his persona. It's also worth noting that Suzuki is fifty years old, and we're going to have to start figuring out where to put him in the pantheon of great old man wrestlers.
  14. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    '96BATTLE FORMATION 29 days Tokyo Dome April 1996 Tatsumi Fujinami vs Genichiro Tenryu The subtitle here is Battle of Twin Dragon! Half of Tenryu's name is dragon, and Fujinami's always doing dragon stuff: dragon sleepers, dragon suplexes, hoarding gold, killing Beowulf . . . you know, dragon stuff. Fujinami hits two topes early on, and you can already tell that this is one of those matches that benefits from the Dome environment. The roar is tremendous, and it's impressive seeing thousands of people stand to watch Fujinami employ himself as a projectile. Less impressive is the camera work, which completely misses as something goes wrong on the third tope. Tenryu catches Fujinami and breaks his nose, with the result that the rest of the match is covered in blood. The heat takes care of itself from this point. Fujinami bleeds, and Tenryu does a bunch of stuff that he was probably going to do anyway but that's all the more dramatic because of the red everywhere. Face punches, boots to the mouth, acting like a dick, making dick-like expressions, waiting for the ref to stop the match like a dick, being a dick - it's the Tenryu Show. Part of the Tenryu Show, of course, is sloppy execution. His enzuigiri is just terrible, but he does it in every match - it's the Choshu lariat of wrestling moves. He hits a godawful powerbomb followed by a dreadful top rope elbow drop, but it only highlights how invested the crowd is in this as they pop for Fujinami's kickout. Did Tenryu pin anyone with that elbow drop? Maybe Stan Hansen in the post-split Triple Crown tournament, but that's only because Hansen's back stopped working. Fujinami gets little comebacks here and there; the last one starts awkwardly as Tenryu doesn't seem to know it's coming and is in mid-strike when Fujinami takes over. We get a great visual as Fujinami locks in the dragon sleeper and grimaces with blood covering his face. He goes to the top for his shin drop thing and . . . misses, I guess? Once again we have top rope move whose outcome we have to glean from the opponent's response. In this case, Tenryu gets up, lariats him twice, and wins. So I guess it missed. This is the Tenryu Show with special guest star Fujinami's blood, so if you like Tenryu you'll like this. I like Tenryu, so . . . well, I won't insult you by belaboring the obvious conclusion. Fujinami is barely there other than as a vessel for blood to come out of. Maybe getting his nose busted took him out of the proceedings, but he was noticeably less interesting here than when Hashimoto was kicking his ass.
  15. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    95 Tokyo Dome BATTLE7 January 4 Tokyo Dome, 1995 10TH MATCH SUPERHARD SYNDROME・Tag Match Junji Hirata & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Sabu & Masahiro Chono SUPERHARD SYNDROME! Fortunately this match went only about ten minutes. Once SUPERHARD SYNDROME hits three hours you have to consult a physician. To do something about your SUPERHARD SYNDROME! WRESTLING PRIAPISM IN TOKYO DOME! This match's inscrutable subtitle does nothing to explain why it's happening. In this corner we have a couple old guys sporting some suspiciously bulky traps. Maybe I'm a cynic, but when I see a couple 40-somethings whose necks start just below their ears, I assume they've been training really hard together. And by "training really hard together," I mean "injecting steroids into each other and high-fiving." In that corner we have useless, post-injury Masa Chono and a wrestler who is not only homicidal but also suicidal and even genocidal, Sabu. I always thought that was a bit much. It's just wrestling, Sabu. There's no need for any genocide. Why are these two tagging together? Why are they wrestling the old guys? Why does there seem to be a particular issue between Chono and Hirata? I don't know. Must be something to do with SUPERHARD SYNDROME. Chono and Sabu immediately jump their opponents in a manner than can only be described as SUPERHARD, and Sabu immediately starts doing Sabu stuff. He sets up a couple chairs on the walkway leading to the ring and jumps off them to body press Hirata. It hurt that much more because he jumped off chairs. He proceeds into the ring to try something similar on Fujinami, who's being held in the corner by Chono. But Fujinami ducks, and Sabu leg lariats his own partner; to make things worse, he jumped off a chair so it hurt more! Then they put the chairs away and wrestle for a while, and it's not terrible The focus, for whatever reason, is on Hirata and Chono. Hirata's one of those guys who has surprised me in this project, and though I've always I've always Super Strong Machine is cooler than this version, I will say that he's surprisingly expressive for someone who spent so much time under a mask. His lariats are sub-Choshu bad, but he holds his own in there. Sabu does some stuff that tries one's suspension of disbelief, but he does wrestle a little bit. And I appreciate that he has "SABU" written on a piece of tape on his arm so I don't lose track of which one he is. About nine minutes in, they bring out the props again, and you realize that they had just been killing time until Sabu could play with furniture (hitting someone with a chair in the ring in full view of the referee doesn't get anyone disqualified, by the way. Presumably because of the hardness of the syndrome). Sabu puts a chair on the turnbuckle and then a chair on top of that and then Hirata on top of a table and the crowd here in the Tokyo Dome is super hard excited. He drops a leg from a chaired chair and . . . well, shit. It looks like Hirata was supposed to roll out of the way, but Sabu still clipped him. I think the move "officially" missed because just then Fujinami jumps back in the ring, and Chono and Sabu get beaten up. Finally, Hirata and Chono square off. Hirata hits some bad clotheslines, a powerbomb, and a top-rope headbutt but can't get the pin. He comes off the ropes only to be hit with a chair by Sabu. Chono uses the opening to Yakuza kick Hirata exactly once and win the match. Hunter Hearst Chono really Booker T'ed Hirata on this one. I don't know why this made NJPW World, unless being at the Tokyo Dome is reason enough. Everyone except Hirata was either boring or terrible, and it made Hirata look like a chump. It didn't make my SYNDROME any more SUPERHARD than normal.
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