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Found 33 results

  1. Man the opening sequences made this look like it was going to be one of the greatest matches of all time and it was going really great and then Jumbo botched the Powerbomb. That made it feel really incomplete, in a way I rarely find botched finishes to be, usually I'm just amused at the brutality but here it really felt like a sudden stop that shouldn't have been. Thankfully we got a rematch two months later. This was still very good but more three star-ish than what could've (and did eventually) be.
  2. Pretty damn good young lion match. This was the earliest Suzuki I‘ve seen, but he was already firmly into the shootstyle thing. Lots of cool slick matwork with Suzuki locking in some clinical looking armbars and doing some really cool stuff, like turning a Fujiwara armbar into a pin. The cool thing was that they didn‘t make it look easy, both guys had to fight even for something like a snapmare. Watching this made me wonder how either guy would have done on a different career path, e.g. Suzuki staying in NJPW and Iizuka doing shootstyle. The last couple minutes rule with Suzuki hitting big throws and a great looking corner dropkick while trying to fend off Iizukas Sambo leglocks, while both guys are laying in the smacks. Good shit.
  3. Damn great match, possibly the greatest black trunks rookie match of all time. The reason for that is that this isn't your regular black trunks rookie match, instead it's two very young guys basically working a high end 20 minute shootstyle match that resembled 1950s pro wrestling here and there. Itakura ended up some kind of unfairly shafted 90s indy undercard hero, and Kawauchi was never seen or heard from again, and the concept of this kind of experimental indy shootstyle pretty much fell off the radar until BattlARTS was created 7 years later. It feels earned that these two went all out on a random card that just happened to be filmed so we can watch it and declare it an awesome match 30 years later. Kawauchi is the smaller of the two but he doesn't look outmatched at all. The early parts of the match see Kawauchi pushing the pace with superior amateur skills. The cool thing about this is that they work in some basic pro wrestling moves, like a drop toe hold or headscissor, but they really work these as shootstyle moves. Kawauchi's ground moves were inspired and when Itakura caught him with an awesome flying armbar (a holy shit spot in 1989) it felt like an awesome moment. As soon as Itakura got the advantage he would throw his smaller opponent around like a ragdoll, altough Kawauchi fired back with some nasty stiff kicks and then awesome suplexes of his own. While the matwork wasn't super slick and flashy, there are some crafty reversals (especially dug Itakura wringing his way out of a legbar) and some of the deepest Fujiwara armbars you'll ever see. While the striking wasn't a huge focus in the match as both guys were hellbent on forcing a tap, anytime both guys threw strikes felt suitably epic. There are some awesome 1950s like dropkicks and spin kicks. I also got the say the suplexes in this match were just awesome and some of the best I've ever seen. Even the more pro style suplexes, like a gutwrench or double underhook suplex felt like the guy was brutally hammered into the mat. There was also a great Randleman-like side suplex. Kawauchi going for a flying armbar of his own and failing feels like something that should happen more often. So, a really intense match with awesome suplexes and striking and some of the tightest submission work you'll ever see, with Kawauchi giving a cool gutsy performance fighting of his bigger opponent... damn I wish all pro wrestling felt this real and intense.
  4. Pioneer Senshi feels like a fed unfairly lost to obscurity. After all, this is one of the founding blocks of japanese indy wrestling and a small but potent handful of wrestlers got their starts here, later cohabiting the cards of 90s indy feds. Most Pioneer cards are young workers filling up with a few guys who'd be undercard nobodies in NJPW and AJPW working main events. Go is the only one who's achieved significance through his battles with Fujinami in the late 70s, so he gets to play the ace role. This was a really fun cagey bout between two veteran workers who'd never get a chance like this in an established fed. Almost all on the mat, and it felt like quasi shootstyle as both guys constantly went for submissions with intent to force a tap. The real story here may have been Niikura, there's probably no other match where he gets to do his thing like he does here. He gets to look sharp blasting Go with mean kicks (including an enzuigiri that caught Go flush in the mouth), busts out his signature cool punch combo and hits some gnarly suplexes. This needed a bit more selling to be GREAT - as a +20 match of mostly matwork between two not super flashy, aging workers without a story can be a little rough. Still the action was good and if you are even reading this hell you are probably totally down for two obscure workers in the twilight of their careers stepping out to hit the mat hard and trade big suplexes for 20 minutes anways. Here's to you Fumihiro Niikura, you made the most of this night.
  5. This felt like a match worked for the magazines. Not much substance but the visuals were pretty big and amazing. You had big time blood and both guys threw huge, high angle suplexes. Hase has a bandaged leg and Koshinaka spends a good amount of time kicking the crap out of it. It doesn't amount to anything as Hase soon starts braining Koshinaka recklessly with chairs. The bloody beatdown on Koshinaka with him fighting back valiently was pretty damn gnarly. Soon Hase is DQ'd for excessive brutality. This had the makings of a potential classic but was dragged down by the pointless legwork and Hase making a comeback that looked way too easy. However, we get Hase & Hiro Saito beating on Koshinaka post match with Saito hitting his brutal crowbar senton on a bleeding Koshinaka and that's just badass. The photographers def. got their moneys worth here.
  6. Not a hidden gem like SSM/Hashimoto, but it had it's charms in similiar ways. Fujiwara is unusually grumpy and looking for a fight. SSM soon finds himself pushed and he responds with some gnarly shots of his own. I really liked how SSM tried to prevent Fujiwara's obligatory headbutt spot. Another neat finish.
  7. This match rules. Yes, it has lots of awesome action, yes the crowd heat is insane but my biggest takeaway from it was how great the transitions were. It seemed like every time there was even the slightest opening for a counter they'd take advantage of it, I could easily see this as being the greatest "learned psychology" match ever. Stars; all five of them.
  8. El Dandy vs Emilio Charles Jr. had been a hot feud during the summer, but it had cooled off, at least on TV, after their inconclusive hair match. Heading into the last shows of the year at Arena Mexico, the promotion decided to revive it in order to settle things between the two men. This match was what made their rivalry an issue again. It's not a display of classic three on three wrestling full of athleticism and doubleteaming, and it's not a crazy brawl all over the arena. It's more of a one on one with four other wrestlers involved, and a captivating performance by Emilio Charles. Dandy was on his game for this one. TVF cheapshotted Atlantis early on, and Dandy just charged straight at him and slugged him out of the ring, no finesse needed. Of course then Emilio came in from behind to get Dandy out of there. He prolonged the attack a bit, but he was making sure that his team kept the advantage, and he's a rudo so it's his nature. Dandy wasn't the type to let that slide, though, and after the rudos had their way with Mascara Sagrada he stepped right back in and called Emilio into the ring. Charles wasn't having it, with MS-1 instead offering himself as an opponent, but Dandy knew how to work around that. A sucker right hand sent Emilio bouncing off the apron and rolling into the aisle. Just like that the momentum swung towards the tecnico team, and Atlantis whizzed through an exchange with TVF, culminating with a dropkick that sent the gangly rudo outside of the ring... where you could see Charles still back in the aisle, yet to have recovered from that shot to the face. After that he pretty much had to get into the ring the next time Dandy entered. That was what Dandy had wanted to begin with, and he won that exchange handily to kick off the winning pinfalls for his team. As the referees counted the falls, Dandy and Charles missed each other with some wild punches, at which point Emilio threw up his hands and backed off. Dandy followed him outside the ring, but Gato Montini got between them. Any further fighting would have to wait until the next fall. Strangely, the replay they showed was actually action from the second fall, a pretty big gaffe on Televisa's part. Emilio looked ready for a change of pace. He got into the ring to face his old rival Atlantis at the sound of the whistle, but Atlantis immediately went over and tagged in Dandy. Emilio had this great annoyed look on his face as he stepped right back onto the apron. That's when Dandy charged in and spat in his face. Well then. Emilio stood frozen in shock for a moment before heading up the aisle and out the door. Getting outwrestled and even embarrassed was one thing, but Emilio wasn't going to stick around for this kind of treatment. The crowd was cheering and even the grand old commentator Pedro Septien was cracking jokes about it, saying that, haha, clearly baseball is not the only sport that has a spitball. Back in the ring MS-1 was livid, demanding Emilio get his ass back there and explaining to the ref that a match could not possibly be expected to continue three on two (which was a bit rich coming from a man who based his entire career on the three on one beatdown, but then that's why I love MS-1). Obviously Emilio couldn't go out like that. He sheepishly headed back to the ring and from that point on they may as well have just kept the camera trained on him. Atlantis and MS-1 were squaring off in the ring, a matchup that was (half of) the main event at the anniversary show, and the fans were ignoring them to heckle Charles. Finally Dandy scared TVF out of the ring, and once again Emilio had to come in if he wanted to leave with any of his pride that night. He was still hesitant to engage Dandy, but all it took was one quick cheapshot from MS-1 to give Emilio the opening he needed. He tore into his foe with right hands, stomps, slams, his teeth, whatever he could think of, and now Dandy was bleeding badly and the match had been turned on its head. Septien was great in calling this, explaining that Dandy had brought this upon himself by spitting in the face of a man who had been world champion, and now he was paying the consequences. Wrestling is better when being a world champion makes you dangerous. There was this great shot, probably unintentional, as the rudos were wrapping things up at the end of the fall. Emilio walked across the ring almost in a daze, unaware of anything around him but El Dandy. While MS-1 steadied himself on the top rope, Emilio stood in the foreground, and as the crowd started to chant at him again you could feel all eyes on him instead of the guys in the background who were actually doing wrestling moves. Infuriated, Charles leapt outside to kick Dandy while he was down, but Dandy wouldn't let him have even that and started kicking back. Charles had to run him into the post to put him out. The third fall started with Charles all over his tormentor. Dandy was reeling around the ring, his neon tights now largely reddish brown on the front, as Charles pounded him at will. Eventually Emilio went for an Irish whip for some reason, and soon he was sliding across the arena floor on his ass with Dandy in pursuit. Now Charles was bleeding and Dandy was giving back every bit of punishment he'd received over the last fall. They started slugging it out in the center of the ring, and Emilio actually won that with a hard kick, only to immediately catch a dropkick to the face from Mascara Sagrada. There were, you might remember, four other wrestlers in the match, and they were ready to wrap things up. Mascara Sagrada dove/fell onto MS-1 from the top rope, and Atlantis tied up TVF in a tirabuzon, signalling the end for the rudos, but Dandy knocked Atlantis and TVF outside with a dropkick intended for Charles. The crowd roared in anticipation when Emilio realized that his quick thinking had left him alone in the ring with Dandy. They went at it long enough for the others to recover, but everyone seemed to realize that this was something more important than just this match and held back to cheer on their guy. It took a little bit for Emilio to fully regain his senses. Soon enough all was right, and he was yelling back at the crowd and gesturing that he was coming for Dandy's national middleweight belt. He got that shot the next week, and he lost that match, but for one night he was on the verge of utter humiliation, being laughed right out of Arena Mexico, and he came back not only to get revenge but to win perfectly cleanly against the man who had embarrassed him. That's not a title belt but that's certainly something to remember, and as far as quick setups for a one on one match go this was done about as well as it could have been.
  9. Typical Choshu match with all that entails. You get Choshu slapping the shit out of Chono, and Chono bleeding and trying to take the megastar down. Pretty rough around the edges in terms of layout and Chono isn't very compelling (though I loved his full speed yakuza kick to Choshus face) but the big moments of the match felt brutal.
  10. Well, this seems like a no-brainer matchup. Williams is a aggressive and physical. Hashimoto may be the greatest ever at building a match around a physical challenge. And well this is a pretty sweet big burly guy fight in front of a molten hot crowd that was dying to see Hashimoto destroy this mutant. Williams is a little goofy at times but largely holds up his end. You some intense basic holds as well as the freak spots, such as Williams press slamming Hash and a great finish where they avoid the obvious in nice fashion.
  11. Takashi Iizuka vs. Khabil Biktashev (NJPW 12/6/1989) It's Sambo Pro Wrestling baby~! Biktashev is yet another East European/Caucasian shooter who fought Naoya Ogawa in judo and is decidedly good at pro wrestling. At this point, can we say the Soviet Union produced the most natural pro wrestlers ever? This is really a hidden gem. It's a rounds match with both guys mostly working the mat and it builds to some really big drama. Biktashev wears a jacket, so Iizuka controls the first round dragging him by the jacket. The second round Biktashev gets some more amateur style takedowns on Iizuka. The 3rd round onwards Iizuka just gives Biktashev the business kicking the crap out of him. Iizuka really looks like he was made for this kind of match, busting out cool takedowns and matwork. He would've had a great career if he had more matches in this style. Biktashev sells really well, the problem with Pro Wrestling is it conditions you to view things like a kick to the ribs or spine as minuscule. Here Biktashev was really selling Iizukas knees and stomps as such, struggling to get up and looking anguished. He was selling so well a big Biktashev chant broke out! Japanese love themselves some soviet judokas when they are gutsy. Finish was pretty great simplistic pro wresting, with Iizuka trying to put Biktashev away with the sleeper and Biktashev trying to throw him off and failing. Really big drama for such a basic move and the failed escapes ruled.
  12. Victor Zangiev vs. Osamu Kido (NJPW 12/6/1989) YES! I love me a Zangiev match and I love me a Kido match. And here they are, doing their thing. Some really cool matwork – Zangiev just goes into an unbreakable bridge whenever Kido puts him on his back, while Kido is constantly grabbing armlocks. Really nice finish with Zangiev coming across as this ferocious force only for Kido to trap him.
  13. Why doesn't this get brought up among „passing the torch“ type matches more often? It's quite the epic destruction of Inoki.Choshu immediately catches Inoki in a nasty headscissor and almost cranks his neck. Now Inoki wants a fight, throwing fists and all, but Choshu immediately nukes him with suplexes. A lariat should finish the job, but Inoki narrowly escapes and hangs on by a thread. Choshu is totally the dominant force in this though. Inoki hits some fast enzuigiris and they trade awesome punches and headbutts and this is great. Choshu ain't selling crap from this fossil though and another back suplex later he starts hitting the lariats. Choshu is like an airplane flying around Inoki now and just dropping him again and again. After like 20 lariats even Inoki has had enough. If you wonder why Inoki worshipper Yuki Ishikawa wrestles the way he does check out this match. Inoki's time had come, and Choshu was the cold blooded killer to put the old gunslinger down.
  14. This was pretty much a shootstyle brawl with plenty of bitchslaps and stomps. So, exactly what it should be. Man, did Funaki just treat everyone like garbage then? It brings out Anjoh's inner dickhead tough to even things up. The grappling was fine enough and they kept things going for the entire 20+ minutes which ain't easy, but the highlight was clearly them kicking the crap out of eachother. Funaki's time in europe had clearly rubbed off on him as he went for stuff like mid section headbutts or cravate holds which he executes like a WoS wrestler. He sure loved his spin kicks, but the thing I most dug were his short low kicks. Really entertaining match.
  15. Man, I forget what a great fight this was. Crazy UWF grappler Backlund was so cool to watch. Easily the best stuff he ever did. Basically Backlund irritates Cool Guy Funaki a bunch so Funaki tries to beat him to a pulp, including knife edge chopping him in the face. Supposedly the UWF people didn't like Backlund's pro style spots (altough Funaki starts working more pro stylish himself), and it almost felt like Backlund was being intentionally goofy to piss Funaki off. He even seemed to be smirking for a few moments. The best part is that Funaki can't seem to crack Backlund. I loved how Backlund would take a beating, but seemingly toy around and then fuck Funaki up with a single blow. Also dug how easily he threw Funaki off and reversed his holds. The non-finish is a bummer, but I can't really imagine a proper finish for a match this bizarre.
  16. Excellent apeustas brawl. Difficult to execute that type of match in a tag setting but they made it work superbly. Satanico's selling/body language after the first fall beatdown is about as good as wrestling gets. Violence, intensity and drama. ****1/4
  17. Aaah the joy of watching wrestling. This is a long as fuck slow match between two stocky motherfuckers without any spectacular offense and it may very well be one of my favourite lucha title matches of all time. There has been some talk about "anti-workrate", and some folks may classify this kind of brainy contest under that. But screw that, because this was as epic as a title match can get, with nearfalls out the ass, huge dives, and selling that makes Shawn Michaels look like a master of subtlety. This is a rare chance to see these two doing some straight up wrestling, and there are some really beautiful trippy takedowns and arm rolls in this bout, contestants being very much ugly and not lean and all that. The main reason why the match is so great is the interplay of Pirata Morgan's character and the title match formula. The amount of cheating you can do and get away with in a lucha title match in 1989 is very low, and yet he still shoehorns as many foul tactics as possible into this. He had to, cause Brazo was pushing him to the limit here. I also really loved the vicious edge Morgan brought to the match, throwing punches when the ref was not looking, elbowing at the joint and generally being as ruthless as you expect a plague of the seven seas to be. They work a really strong 2nd fall with multiple belieable false finishes with Brazo going to town on Pirata who was desperately trying anything to stay in the match. Eventually he strikes gold when he catches the Figure 4 and goes after Brazo de Oro like a terrier. Some of the best work around a Figure 4 I've seen ensues, and also a really great Brazo de Oro performance. A one legged Brazo scouting around the ring, trying to figure out how to go on while narrowly avoiding defeat at the hands of his super aggressive opponent was really epic. At one point, he just grabbed Pirata's arm, yanking him around some and then digging his head into the elbow joint as if to help thinking of what to do. The match also has some of the best timing and payback spots I've seen, such as the awesome build to the first great fat man dive, an equally great payoff spot when Morgan accidentally nukes his second or Oro's repeated crashing and burning just after gaining some momentum. This is all extremely simple stuff as are all the nearfalls they do, with moves such as sentons or a missed knee drop really adding to the contest, but the execution is great. This is a fascinating match because it's like a mix of lucha, WoS and NWA or Portland style psychology. And it's done by these two bastards who you expect far away from this kind of scientific match. Just outstanding storytelling and psychology, the kind of stuff that holds up even after years.
  18. Don't really know what to say except that it has maybe the greatest selling performance in the history of pro wrestling **** 1/4
  19. Tamura is wildly outmatched but comes out all guns blazing out of defiance. Maeda is stunned but quickly counters with a leglock and brutal knees to the face. Tamura's selling is amazing. A 2 minute, 19 second match that almost hits the great mark. Tamura and shoot-style are the best. *** 3/4
  20. Miyato is usually terrific in the underdog role but here he excels at playing a bully as well. Typical awesome matwork and Tamura's selling in the final stages was masterful stuff. ****
  21. Their first match. Kind of an introduction of the style they came up with, meaning they hit aaaaaall their death moves, reckless dives in rapid succession. Starts out with some fast matwork and hints at aggression including Liger pummeling Sano on the ground, but quickly turns into a pure move exhibition. They would go on to have better and more intelligent matches in the future, but there's still plenty of death and drama to be seen here.
  22. Cool JWP style match. It's a little hard to discern where the line between your average cool JWP match and the great stuff is. The work isn't exactly high end and there's no overarching story, but then the work is GOOD and you get all kinds of neat spots which set these two apart from your average girly spotblower. I really liked the wrestling they did here – nothing high end, but just well executed basic stuff, such as Plum resisting a toe hold, or Kazama turning an Achilles Hold into almost a figure 4 spot by extending the leg to block the pressure. Here Plum gets the better of Kazama with some impressive counters and Kazama almost breaks her jaw with some whack spin kicks in return. I was also impressed by how they did set up the dive in this match. Yeah, I'm a sucker for a good dive set up. Kazama ends up high kicking the steel ringpost and they do a double countout into a restart and Mariko goes after Kazama with her leglocks like the other Mariko. I thought Kazama's selling was good altough it wasn't overly dramatic as she is not that kind of worker and it was just a good trick to get the crowd all hot and behind Kazama for the crazy 2.9 run. One might frown and say this was just another junior match, but I did enjoy it tremendously. Good layout, some cool wrestling and stiff blows, smart thinking, and they never overreached.
  23. I have been looking for more pre-1993 Akira Hokuto stuff when I found this match. Fantastic performance by her, full of urgency and focus, with a really good selljob of her bad leg. She looked very impressive even this early in her career. Chigusa continues her excellent 1980s run with another great performance as well. Terrific match and a hidden gem. **** 1/4
  24. Aaaaaah! Pro wrestling! WAR Hoshino!!! Hoshino immediately goes to town on goofy original costume Liger and just destroys him with barrages of awesome punch combos and rights and lefts and then some. Liger fires back with an awesome flurry of palm strikes only get punched in the FACE again and sinking to the 3rd rope selling this like a pro. After eating a truely Murdochian asskicking of punches, stumpy leg kicks and elbow drops, Liger makes a brief comeback directing a charging Hoshino to the outside and then crushing him with a sideways suicide dive against the guardrail. Hoshino won't back down though, as he posts Liger, slaps the referee and then fires back with a big plancha of his own! Liger does some of his goofy early mannerisms, such as going into fighting stance like a video game character, and not really having great comebacks, but he does love to kick Hoshino in the face here. Hoshino continues his utter dominance with fun ways to work over Liger such as ripping his mask, kicking him in the face or busting out a cool leg stretch/pin combo. Hoshino eats one of the nastiest koppu kicks I've seen but is able to gain the upper hand using his speed again and gets a nice string of nearfalls before Liger has to the steal the win in a flash. What is this bizarro world match? This had a really great opening that was hinting at a hidden classic and then turned into a fun somewhat flawed junior match. Still, way too fun, with Hoshino getting big chants and of course continueing his beating on Liger after the match with the ref doing a flip bump for a Hoshino punch. Liger really doesn't look like he'd have arguably the greatest junior match ever just a few days after this, but I was glad he let Hoshino have this match anyways.
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