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Found 24 results

  1. It's really cool to see how over Hogan is in Japan at this point, with the fans chanting his name after the bell and popping huge for his posing during ring introductions. Right away, they establish that this is going to be worked Clash of the Titans-style with all the stalemates off of lock-ups and shoulderblocks. Then Abby rolls outside after Hulk hits a high jumping knee (!!) and we've got ourselves a cool layout. They work up to Hogan not just applying the bearhug on Abby, but doing it where Abby is off of his feet elevated. Then Abby puts his knees up on a splash coming off the ropes and the blood begins to flow, with Abby using his trademark pencil to inflict more damage. I don't really know what Hogan's work looks like before this and if this is par the course or a departure. from his typical New Japan working style. But you get the sense it was this stage of his career where he really learned to work "big" and create an electric atmosphere. The execution is a little off from both guys, but that actually adds to the match because it puts over the violence factor. I don't think they were blowing spots to make us think we were seeing a shoot, but I do think this is the essence of what Dave was trying to describe in that New Japan match not long ago, only he said it in a questionable way. Hogan's blood-soaked facial expressions are great, and he's quick to make sure Abby also juices when he gets some momentum going. They brawl outside the ring for the typical DCOR finish, but they have a hell of a brawl post-match. I know it's a cliched 80s finish, but in this case, it's a well-worked cliched 80s finish. (Hey, there's Hiroshi Hase as a young boy trying to break them up!) This shows a few possible paths both guys could have taken. Abby would have been an excellent early challenger for Hogan in the WWF, and you get the sense that if 1997 Johnny Ace could have a great match against Akira Taue, so could 1982 Hogan. Good stuff. *** (If you're not philosophically opposed to considering the post-match part of the match rating, which I'm not, tack on an extra 1/2*.)
  2. Before this match, Tiger Mask's matches suggest a guy who was doing some fresh stuff and was pretty good, but who was not really the transformative worker his reputation suggests. Still, he was pretty good and I would consider strong criticism to be hyperbolic. This is the worst performance he has had so far, slipping on the ropes quite a few times and looking very lost at other times. I also have never really liked the Black Tiger gimmick at all, probably because New Japan has taken two guys with great facial expressions and sleazeball charisma -- Mark Rocco and later Eddy Guerrero -- and pulled that personality into a vortex. It's the opposite of the Midas touch. Watching this also makes me appreciate other masked wrestlers even more for how demonstrative they are. Sayama eats plenty of moves, but there's no expressive selling or anything like that. My-turn, your-turn is a criticism that has always been difficult for me to understand, but it's awfully apparent here. You have Tiger Mask just working a wrestling match and doing things at the times wrestlers typically do those things in a match because that's what they typically do. But there's no mileage from the shifts in momentum and no real emotion driving the action. A match spotlighting the new style du jour shouldn't feel so joyless. And I realize I'm saying that even though the crowd ended up really into this by the finish, but this was still a disjointed mess.