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  1. This year has been relatively an AJPW focused year. So I thought I'd squeeze in a quickie spotlight on my favorite NJ wrestler, Tatsumi Fujinami. No real theme or anything beyond matches I found online that looked cool Bob Backlund vs Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW 01/01/82): Man, this is 40 almost 41 years old. Anyhow, this is 15 minute technical duel and I loved it. Its the type of match (and time) where they escaped or reversed holds rather than use rope breaks. This could have gone on much longer but we get a weird finish. It legitimately looked like the ref counted in an odd manner and the finish didn't go as planned. I know its the 80's but this didn't even look like a finish. These two are master technicians so I don't think they would have had this look or end as clunky as it did. But screw that, everything else before was gold. I'd say it was a great match except for the finie. Dos Caras & Jimmy Snuka VS Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami (NJ Tag League 1985): Fun tag match with Dos Caras working his ass off. 1985, it could be 1995 with all of the springboard moves he does. Otherwise nothing terribly remarkable but a fun high energy go-go tag match. It's typical of most NJPW tag matches of the era. What is remarkable is again Dos Caras AND he's posted the full match on his YouTube channel. So I figure it is OK to share it here: ----- Kevin Von Erich vs Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW in Shizuoka 1986): 80's finish but this is off the hook so it doesn't matter. Kevin is a wild mad man! Everything he does looks fantastic. Scoop slams and snap mares even. Credit due to Fujinami for bumping like this. It really sells the match. You know Kevin reminds me of Muto in his explosive athleticism. Imagine those bursts from Muto but for 12 minutes. On top of that they work a little story with the claw and Fujinami going after the hands in order to take that away from Von Erich. Really good stuff. Fujinami has a pink ring jacket that I don't think even flies in 1986...check that out too Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW 12/11/1991): I think this is one I've wanted to see for some time. It was good but nothing terribly remarkable. And that probably sounds like crap when it was actually good wrestling. I figure they wanted to show how Liger would stack up against Fujinami. He does very well but it feels like an off night for him or something. I just wasn't as excited as I expected to be. This was neither a technical duel or an all out action match. Too high of expectations? I don't think so. I just felt like they wanted to have a 'just a pretty good match' and they totally accomplished that. Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJPW 09/26/1993): Fucking great match! I haven't seen enough of the NJ vs Tenryu feud as I want to but have seen enough & know enough. This is a big deal. Tenryu is beating Fujinami from pillar to post. The Dragon does not quit and will find a way to turn the tide if he can. Not a long match but that doesn't matter. The pace is all right for the bout. Glad to see Tenryu too, it's been awhile! Keiji Muto vs Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW 2001 AJPW Triple Crown match): 15 minutes long or so. This was a really neat match that focused on actual wrestling on the mat. Fujinami in particular showed moments of brilliance in his counters. Towards the end they sprinkled in some bigger moves like the Shining Wizard. Perhaps this match worked around some physical limitations of the workers or maybe it was just really clever, focused and unique. Shit, maybe it's all those things! I thought that this was pretty darn good...perhaps great depending on your preferences. Pretty fun little project to do after work this week. I totally recommend sneaking in a match or two this holiday weekend. I don't think anything was longer than 20 minutes. Just sneak out on Xmas day B.S. and watch some great wrestling instead. Thank you as always for reading, be safe and happy holidays folks!
  2. NJPW handheld flood gives us Liger's first shot at the IWGP Jr. Title. Altough this is very different from the matches that would come in the future. Essentially young Yamada is a huge underdog against shootstylist Takada. During the early matwork portion Yamada is super cautious to avoid all of Takada's UWF submissions. Eventually Takada gets sick of this and blasts him with kicks. Takada goes for the Tombstone but Yamada desperately avoids that move aswell. Soon Yamada is selling big and the crowd is going bananas for every offensive move and counter he is able to land. Basic match executed extremely well and really fun to check out a way different Liger.
  3. So here's the remainder of my 2003 Highspots DVD. This isn't really why I was interested in the comp but heck these look fun and are outside of what I've been watching lately. Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Yang vs. Fuego (Amazing Red) & Super Dragon (01/13/03) - This is fun to see all of these guys in one ring especially an AJPW. A very nice spot match...very early 2000's vibe in every way. Not necessarily lucha- puro as the following matches but probably as lucha as I've seen in an AJPW ring. Anthony W. Mori, Takuya Sugawara, & Taiji Ishimori vs. Milano Collection A.T., Masato Yoshino, & Shuji Kondo (01/19/03) - Wow, everyone is a baby! This is high speed lucharesu and is a nice bit of nostalgia for someone who gets a kick out of the Dragon Gate 6 mans in ROH. Very fun stuff. ----- Ultimo Dragon & Kaz Hayashi vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero (01/19/03) - I've seen this before but it really struck me as something special this time. Its all action lucharesu fireworks that gave me tingles like 90's Michinoku Pro. Every move was crisp, guys were bumping like crazy and even in the Tokyo Dome fans were audibly excited. This isn't the best Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero match I have seen but man it was an exciting one. I'll call this a great match. ----- Milano Collection A.T., Brother Yasshi, & Shuji Kondo vs. Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi, & Anthony W. Mori (01/27/03) - A slight step down from their match about but felt different as there was a bit more comedy, there was 6 sided ring and a smaller yet loyal audience (as opposed to the Dome show audience from above). Still a load of fun and non stop excitement. Although I only know Anthony W. Mori from Fire Pro Returns, I really want to see more of this dude. Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Osaka Pro Tag Team Champions Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03) Holy cow! Where did this come from? Only know Liger. Murahama maybe I saw a couple times years ago and the Osaka Pro team I remember from Fire Pro Returns (still the best one due to the pre-made roster). But seriously I did not know this match would pack such a punch! This is top shelf lucharesu. Quick action, lucha partner swaps, liberal time given for partners in the ring but still a little slower, stronger emphasis on stiffness, 1 fall with a classic escalation of drama and action. Part of me wants to call this a classic because it was so exciting and unexpected. And there's part of me that wants to dial that rating back a tad for the same reasons. So instead I'll say if you're a fan of Jr. style tag matches, you'll want to see this. ----- From the star ratings on the box, I've under rated & over rated a couple of these. I'm OK with that and totally stand by my opinions. These matches coupled with the NOAH matches make this a pretty great compilation. I recommend checking some of this out anyway you can. Highspots has discontinued all of their DVDr comps but this might be available still on their UK site and people have it on eBay. Or do your internet stuff. Anyhow thanks for reading!
  4. Fukuda enters the BOSJ and pushes the legend to the limit! Liger goes out of his way to make this indy nobody look great! It's hard not to love Fukuda here with how he withstands Liger's stiff shotais and busts out a bunch of great throws and holds. Opening matwork was pretty rockin' and better than the usual Liger trademark surfboards. Fukuda's sleeper variations were pretty choice and him getting control over Liger was done nicely. They do a pretty great section where they exchange pitbull headbutts on their knees to mix up the bomb throwing. The crowd gets hugely into the possible upset too. Sweet match.
  5. Way better than the crap that was their July match. Essentially Kanemoto makes Liger his woman in this one. Kanemoto is great as a violent bully and he just kicks the snot out of Liger from start to finish. Unfortunately Liger lacked his usual fire. Add a pissed off Liger comeback to this and you'd have a minor classic on your hands. They went to the usual bomb throwing in the last 3rd, altough it wasn't egregious.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I watched the Dark Side on the Collision in Korea. It was a thankful return to form for the show. Anyhow it got me thinking about the steiner's match over there and here's a spotlight from the wrestling notebook grooveyard. Everyone has an opinion on the 1991 match vs Hase & Sasaki so I'll omit that...let's get into some lesser known stuff of -The Steiner Brothers in NJPW!! Steiner Brothers vs. Power Warrior Sasaki & Jushin Liger (New Japan 2/17/94) A pretty good tag match with Liger being the real spark plug of this match. Sasaki is only really capable of a few moves but he used them real well here. Cool finish. ***3/4 (very good match) Steiner Brothers vs. Jushin Liger/Chris Benoit (New Japan 4/4/94) The junior team was out classed here and Benoit mainly took bumps but once things got real competitive it was fantastic and really exciting. This is why I love tag-team wrestling. **** (Great match) Steiner Brothers vs. Chris Benoit/Scott Norton (New Japan 10/8/94) A joined-in-progress match that was not very memorable but by no means bad...just not up to the standards of the other two. Once again Benoit was bump-boy...which is a total misuse. (No rating but must be at least fun) Steiner Brothers vs. Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase (New Japan, 1/4/95) The best of the matches here and you could tell from the get go that the Steiners were taking this one seriously. Mutoh was awesome here as the fire plug MF'er that I've heard so much good stuff about. The strikes were never the Steiners strong suit as they either go too stiff or not enough but if you can get past that it's an awesome tag match. If they were responsibly stiff then this would be 4.25+ but as it is I'll give it ****+. Still fun dramatic tag match as Hase's trademark suplex does the Brothers in. This is an added bonus as I'm a fan (Great match...I'll say near classic here in 2021) Steiner Brothers vs. Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki (New Japan, 4/29/95) This is from the Korea Supershow and it's not too bad as Kensuke brings it to who ever gets in the ring with him and Hase is just great. Unfortunately the native team jobs in essentially a squash match but without the killer double team moves and the producer/editor thought it'd be a good idea to switch to Kensuke & Rick brawling on the outside as Scott hit the Screwdriver on Hase for the pin?! What the fuck!? Steiner Brothers vs. Scott Norton & Power Warrior Hawk (New Japan, 5/3/95) I wish Kensuke was in this but as it was it was alright. Scott Norton bumps like someone 100lbs lighter and well Hawk was alright at times. Still no one here to supply psychology. The spots were good but they didn't know what to do to carry the drama from one spot to the next. Still we got to see the Steiner DDT & Bulldog to put Hawk down. Would have been better but 2 Amer. teams are working too friendly and comes across as a WCW match. (Guess this maybe this is explained by the Dark Side episode as this takes place a couple days after. Hawk had Hep A and was on medicine and it sounds like the experience for all of American guys was very very rough). Hope you dug this! I'm working on getting to finishing my ongoing stuff with FMW '98. I've been watching the Darkside stuff, Pillman matches from the WWE dvd, and listening to Cornette's podcast moreso than focusing on the task at hand. Sorry! Also I wrote a Thank you New Jack post but that never got posted or removed and that was discouraging...so anyhow thanks for reading! Getting close to post #200. Stay safe folks!
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