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  1. Jumbo Tsuruta | Great Kabuki | Isao Takagi vs Genichiro Tenryu | Toshiaki Kawada | Samson Fuyuki January 2, 1990 All Japan Pro Wrestling New Years Giant Series 7.5 Even if we concede that the Jumbo-Tenryu rivalry, which was nearing the three-year mark at this point, was getting old, there is no denying that the work in the ring is still excellent, whether it comes from Tenryu and Kabuki trading chops and uppercuts or Isao Takagi's inspired underdog babyface performance, capped off by a five-alarm blade job. The entire match builds to Takagi getting a close, believable nearfall on Tenryu. Regardless of Tenryu's imminent departure, perhaps it was a sign that the rivalry was running out of steam when coming out of this match, Tenryu programs with Kabuki and Takagi seemed more urgent than big Tenryu-Tsuruta match. Availability All Japan Pro Wrestling Special on NTV - Aired January 15, 1990
  2. These two had a solid match, but it’s hurt by a few things like JJ taking too much heat for himself in the interference spots and Garvin just not being very over anymore after the title win and loss. Arn worked over Garvin’s arm and did some nice work, but the match didn’t really play to Garvin’s strengths as much as his matches with Flair usually did. It says something about the state of JCP at this point that people didn’t really start getting into it until they really started with the booking to show the finish was coming. I’m glad I saw this because it’s not bad, but it’s just an average TV match.
  3. All the Flair-Sting sequences you’ve come to know and love in what I think was the first televised match these two ever had. Within the first three minutes, Flair goes up for two press slams. Still, this is fun because at this point, this is a fresh matchup. The feud hadn’t really gotten started yet, and Sting was just a UWF reject midcarder, so Flair did a lot to get him over as a worthy challenger, completely bitching out (yeah, I said it) for the test of strength and letting Sting shrug off his chops. The no-sell of the vertical suplex was a rare spot at this point since the Nikita feud was over a year old and the Luger feud hadn’t kicked in yet, so that got quite the reaction. After the first commercial break, Flair is working over Sting’s arm but we missed the transition, but even that offense is about putting Sting over by angling him in ways to show off Sting’s physique to the camera and letting him constantly tease comebacks. When Sting tries to strong arm his way out of it, Flair catches him with one of the best low blows I’ve ever seen. This is fun just because it’s such a lively match, and it even gets really good when Flair starts building heat with the figure four. But the stories of Arn and Tully watching Flair matches around this time and not getting why Flair was working like this and trying to talk to Ric about it sure make sense. Flair had no strong babyface opponents and felt like he had to work overtime to get all these Johnny-come-latelies over as credible challengers. It’s also a great display of the contradictions present in Flair’s work that cause a lot of the debate around here – there’s no real setup for the figure four and he’s generous to a fault in the opening segment. But no one can time nearfalls, make someone look like a million bucks and manipulate a crowd into reacting in the desired way quite like Ric Flair. (We don’t get a finish, as the show goes off the air, but we get a good 15 minutes of action.) ***
  4. Kimura slaps Fujinami during handshakes, knocking him off his feet and setting the tone for the match. Kimura completely dominates the first half of this, leading to quite the excitement when Fujinami finally rallies back. It’s like an abridged version of Liger-Samurai in terms of the layout. Fujinami bloodies him up and the match gets pretty spirited and stiff. Great match with an upset win from Kimura, and I really like this as a budding feud for 1987. I don’t know if this is true for the context of the time, but I went into this expecting a technically strong match between friends and ended up getting something even better. ****
  5. The going narrative was always that fans were sick of Dusty by 1988 but this crowd sure loved the guy and that’s what made this match fun to watch. Arn and Tully are definitely a team that will maximize any opportunity they have to work with a super over babyface, so they went in a direction you might not expect with Dusty as FIP. Tully is such a great heel opportunist. The stone face during ring intros is a great contrast to the try-hard types like Jeff Jarrett who pander for the heat. Tully can be an asshole just by standing there – he’ll do asshole things, but he gets heat because he *is* an asshole, not because he acts like one. Nikita had a really fun hot tag before the match ended in DQ when Tully threw Koloff over the top. Flair hit ringside but Luger made the save and went right for Arn. They were wisely keeping Flair and Luger apart in these types of segments at this point. Super fun TV match. ***
  6. World Wrestling Entertainment NXT #485 on WWE Network Aired January 2, 2019 (Taped November 28, 2018) Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL No review yet Matt Riddle vs Kassius Ohno Bold matches are PWO recommended
  7. World Wrestling Entertainment NXT UK #22 on WWE Network Aired January 2, 2019 (Taped November 24, 2018) Liverpool, ENG No review yet Toni Storm vs Deonna Purrazzo Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan vs Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel Mike Hitchman vs Josh Morrell Dave Mastiff vs Eddie Dennis Bold matches are PWO recommended
  8. World Wrestling Entertainment NXT UK #21 on WWE Network Aired January 2, 2019 (Taped November 24, 2018) Liverpool, ENG No review yet Jamie Ahmed vs Travis Banks Kenny Williams & Amir Jordan vs Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel Candy Floss vs Jinny NXT UK Tag Title Qualifying Match: Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) vs Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) Bold matches are PWO recommended
  9. WWF Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC Aired January 2, 1988 (Taped December 7, 1987) Landover, MD No review yet. WWF World Tag Team Titles: Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) (c) vs Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov) Jake Roberts vs Sika WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan (c) vs King Kong Bundy Greg Valentine vs Koko B. Ware Bold matches are PWO recommended.
  10. The resurgence of Big Japan's deathmatch division over the past year or so has been very interesting. While still always the major draw in the company, most English speaking fans have favored the Strong Division over the Deathmatch one. However, the Srong Division has had trouble establishing new stars, while Masashi Takeda has become an absolute superstar. This is his first title defense of 2018 against Takumi Tsukamoto. They would go on to become tag champions a few weeks later. Takeda has a lot of things going for him. He's incredibly charasmatic, has solid technical skills, knows how to structure his matches and is a madman. Most deathmatches in Big Japan are focused around the ability to just survive as much punishment as possible, and this is no exception. It is very brutal. From lighttubes to scissors to fork cakes to cages to nailboards, there's a lot going on here. Takeda takes control early and just destroys Tsukomoto's forehead, with gouging, tubes, and brutal chairshots. He then steps up the brutality attempting to send Tsukomoto through a barbed wire cage, but Tsukomoto fires up by breaking lighttubes over his head and gains the upper hand, suplexing Takeda through the barbed wire. The crowd is starting to get amped up and behind Tsukomoto. He follows that with a vertebreaker onto chairs. After some back and forth, Takeda gives Tsukotmoto a pretty crazy Russian Leg Drop off of the apron through the cage, which has been moved to the outside. From here, it turns into a bit more of a sprint, with both guys fighting as hard as they can. Takeda is a great deathmatch seller. He has really great facial expressions that make him look like he is in absolute agony, but Tsukomoto is right there with him in this one. He continues to fire up and really gets the crowd behind him. There are some big nearfalls, like Tsukomoto kicking out after a slam on a nailboard followed by a German onto tubes, but Tsukomoto still isn't giving up. Finally, a reverse DDT puts him away. If you are not a fan of the Big Japan deathmatch style, this may not be a match to change your mind, as it contains the excesses and brutality that can take some out of a match. However, I think they do a great job accomplishing what they set out to deliver: elevate Tsukotomo and continue Takeda's unstoppable reign. It is fairly compact. There isn't much downtime, they transition and build to the next spot very well and never feels like they are just waiting for someone to set up or build the next contraption to go through. This is my favorite deathmatch so far this year. Takeda has been one of the best wrestlers in the world so far, and this has been one of his best performances. If you can stomach this style, I absolutely recommend this. ****1/2
  11. The junior tag was much faster and livelier paced and just a really fun match. One thing that's different between early 90s junior indy wrestling and today's junior wrestling is that back then everything felt made up on the spot, nothing felt overly contrived or choreographed, and I like that a lot. Even when Motegi busts out a dive it feels like something he just decided to do in the moment, and thus much more exciting. Motegi is generally awesome in these matches as he always does something entertaining, like randomly locking in an awesome ground cobra twist in this match. Matsuzaki I liked a lot on the previous OPW show and he looked good again here throwing hard kicks and headbutts. Tokuda was the guy I hadn't seen before, and he looked really fun too, apparently doing a judo gimmick, as he had some cool judo-ish offense, such as Mariko Yoshida monkey flip into armbar and a badass backdrop that he turned into a Uranage in mid-air. The finish was great too with Motegi just nuking Matsuzaki with the triple german, really fast and with a ton of snap. He made that move look better than Angle. There I said it, Motegi > Angle. Hell, Motegi > Liger. I love Motegi pretty much.
  12. This was pretty much a sprint and made me think the Headhunters might be one of the most underrated tag teams ever. This was not just funny sleazy pro wrestling, it was basically like a Twin Towers vs. Rockers match, except far seedier, blood-drenched and violent. Headhunters were absolutely pasting the Twins with chairshots, powerbombs and their combined FATNESS, and I loved every second of it. Meanwhile Jado/Gedo were hitting superkicks and flying around, and the Headhunters did a really good job setting themselves up for their offense and bumping around like huge bowling pins. Also, the guy operating the camera finally gets his shit together and we get a full picture of this match. The only bummer was that the camera missed a huge Headhunter dive outside the ring. Watching this grainy footage zooming in on a Headhunter rampaging about in the stands of Korakuen Hall felt kinda like a found footage monster movie. The finish - a giant Headhunter moonsault - was one of the most ridiculous spots I've ever seen as the poor little japanese guy lying in the middle of the ring basically disappeared underneath as this giant fat dude splashed into the ring like free willy. Fantastic match
  13. post-SWS Nakano matches are rare as hen's teeth, which is awful because he is such an interesting worker, as his basic technical stuff looks tough as nails, and then he will stand up and kick you in the kidney. This was an extremely basic juniors match (that was half missed by the camera guy) where Winger added nothing, but was still a decent Nakano carryjob. Nakano made Winger struggle for everything, and at one point popped Winger straight in the mouth with a huge punch and then proceeded to stomp and kneedrop the back of his head as if trying to give him brain damage. Japanese sleazy unprofessionality at it's best.
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