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  1. Here we go again with more of our hero Tiger Mask! We're getting close to the end. Tiger Mask vs. Gran Hamada - (2/3/83): This featured great matwork, agility, timing, counters and reversals. Much of this was on the mat and that's where Tiger is best despite being known as a flying innovator. These two are just amazing together. A classic encounter. ----- Tiger Mask vs. Black Tiger - (2/7/83): JIP 8 minutes in, good match with state of the art offense. Black Tiger isn't Tiger's best opponent but he's always there to try and foil our hero's plans. Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi - (2/8/83): 7 minute JIP, what was shown was awesome. Its a shame we didn't get to see their feeling out period and matwork. Spectacular stuff that was 10 years ahead of its time. Check out the Muta lock!! Yeah, Muta got nuthin' on this! ----- Tiger Mask/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Gran Hamada/Kuniaki Kobayashi (2/10/83): Another JIP, 4 minutes in but I think we get enough to not have it be obvious. This is pretty exciting stuff with action from bell to bell. Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid - (4/21/83): The final encounter and the famous restart match. This may be the first "5 more minutes!" match. I think that's what made it a classic match. It was off the hook when both guys got disqualified. The fans were chanting for more time or a re-start...and they give it to 'em!! We haven't seen this level of intensity in awhile...I mean its over the Kuniaki matches when Dynamite Kid is bringing broken bottles in the ring to stab TM with! We haven't seen Dynamite in some time but they really dial it up for this ultimate fight. I have some problems with some move choices and their selling but I think all US fans that grew up with the Undertaker will feel this way. Classic match for everything that goes on here. I've got one more disc of my TM DVD set so probably 2 more posts. I'm still enjoying the heck outta this set. We've got more Kobayashi in singles and tags so, it should be good! Thanks for reading!
  2. Here we go! 1983 Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi - NWA Jr. Title (1/6/83): This is one of my early favorites of my puro dvd collection. I probably saw it in 2010 or so with my dad along with the Dynamite Kid ones. This is the match that gave me a clue that TM could be more than his feud with Dynamite. This was awesome then and its awesome now. Its ahead of its time with nearfalls, double count outs, etc. This was pretty darn stiff near the end and was very intense. This was a near classic match to me. ---- Tiger Mask/El Gran Hamada/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Los Misioneros De La Muerte (Negro Navarro/El Signo/El Texano) (1/14/83): This was clipped a little bit in the beginning but after that one it was shown in full. Man, this was all kinds of fun! Tiger Mask vs. Negro Navarro (1/20/83): JIP a little as far as I could tell. I wasn't expecting that! Really good stuff that was enjoyable to watch. Based on these two matches, I wish more of this mini feud made the DVD. ---- Tiger Mask/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Black Tiger/Jose Estrada (1/28/83): A fast paced tag match with Black Tiger Rocco thankfully returning to form. He looked best here. This was another fun match. This round of matches from Tiger were a breeze to watch. The variety of opponents he faces make this set stay fresh & interesting. I make sure to take breaks but every time I come back to it, it doesn't disappoint.
  3. We're back with more from the original Tiger Mask! vs Black Tiger (09/21/82): There were some neat moves here but it didn't flow very well as both seemed off their game. Highlight was Tiger double knee dropping the mat from the top rope. vs Marty Jones (10/08/82): This was much better but not as awesome as I had expected. This match was a very good technician vs technician bout. It was on its way to great things though. vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (10/26/82): KK & TM just despise one another. This felt more like a fight than the above matches. Very aggressive tone to every block, counter and dodge. This is very much Tiger in his element and we're rewarded with logical uses of his speed and agility (rather than doing spots for the crowd). Great match even with an old school ending. vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (11/04/82): A bigger, better version of the above match. I mean Tiger drop kicks Kuniaki before the bell rings. This felt like a grudge match for sure! But what's interesting is that Kobayashi isn't a heel but more of true equal to Tiger Mask...thing is he wants to take that mask...to get TM to stop playing dress up. At least that's what I gather from how the match is wrestled It reminded me of Otani or Kawada letting an emotion get in their way of victory. I'd call this a near classic match. I've seen folks go higher than that so you really want to check it out for yourself. Personally I think this is THE series of matches people should see instead of the Dynamite Kid ones...if you only are going to choose one. That's all for now! We get another match with Kobayashi as well as some lucha action next installment! Thanks for reading! Check out the Kobayashi matches and see ya soon
  4. Nice action packed sub-ten minute match. Zangiev was great in this with his suplexes and power spots plus I loved his reaction to Hash spitting at him. I liked Hash being more subdued in a sense since the danger Zangiev presented with all his suplexes and subs meant that one too many strikes could spell doom. But when he got his opening he laid it in, as expected. I feel like a Cesaro circa 2013 versus Hashimoto would look a bit like this. EDIT: My initial review for this actually really undersells how great it is lol. Seeing moves like the head scissors that you're used to just being part of the "headlock-head scissors-staredown" sequence to open a match being put to practical use to actually break an armbar attempt and create drama is awesome. Then you've got Zangiev blocking submission attempts while he's on the mat by just standing up and carrying around Hash like he's nothing. Final transition with Hash stuffing Zangiev into the corner and then hitting the flying spin kick rules. MOTYC in a really stacked '89.
  5. 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.
  6. I'm trying to put into words how much I liked this match but I don't think I'll be able to do this justice. If the match was about ten minutes shorter I think it could've rated it as a top ten match of all time. It's still an absolutely incredible match, an the crowd never really dies but after a certain point they just aren't buying the submissions as much as they did and it's more of a "clap for rope breaks/escapes/general effort" thing. This was a perfect showcase for both wrestler's abilities, the matwork was phenomenal and they managed to escape a perfect sense of one-upmanship. It is a match that manages to excel both at the little things and the big things, there's a moment where Inoki does a bridge and Fujinami tries to drive him to that and I swear Inoki did the most beautiful bridge I've ever seen, the kind of thing that could only be possible because of stuff like this: The crowd was fucking insane, you get shots of people standing up and not leaving their feet for about ten minutes just mesmerized by the drama of the match, Inoki firing up while Fujinami had him in a Figure Four was one of the greatest spots I've ever seen and Fujinami responded appropriately by pushing himself up as far as he could and trying to rip apart Inoki's leg, the struggle over everything was so well done here and the match also served as a great display for their character though I'd find it understable if people used to gigantic bumps for irish whips and WWF wrestling didn't pick it up (not actually trying to call anyone out here fwiw), Fujinami has a chip on his shoulder and while being a great athlete in his own right doesn't really possess Inoki's strength and they play it up really well, Inoki goes for an illegal Sleeper in the beginning and Fujinami sells it like a huge threat, later on Fujinami uses the same maneuver several times but never manages to damage Inoki as much as Inoki had damaged him, I think that came off really well every time Fujinami would grab a hold for a longer period of time where, he'd just come off as the most tenacious wrestler ever, and later in the match when Inoki stars slapping the shit out of him and Fujinami sells it enough so it doesn't come off as no selling (especially with his facial expression) but no sells it enough so the crowd can put his awesome facial expressions together with him refusing to go down to Inoki's strikes and it's this humongous amazing moment and everyone is losing their shit and pro wrestling fucking rules mate. I also find it amusing how Fujinami's character seems to consistent both in his on air presentation and in scummy backstage videos and stories (him slapping Kevin Nash comes to mind, also there was a video where him and Inoki just yell at each other for five minutes and Fujinami responds to Inoki's weak fifth grader bully slap by Bas Ruttening him). ****3/4
  7. 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. ****
  8. Vader makes his entrance with the badass elephant helmet that spits smoke. Then Vader proceeds to just kill Fujinami, throwing him around and demolishing him with his patented shots. Pretty good way to introduce how destructive Vader can be. He was just crushing Fujinami at points, including hitting a lariat with his tree trunk sized arm that sent his opponent into spasms. Fujinami gets some of his technical wrestler comebacks - kicking at the leg, body shots, surprise backslide and submission hold etc. - I think Fujinami got a few comebacks too many and it kind of took Vader's badass destroyer vibe away. I also disliked that Fujinami couldn't get proper height for his enzuigiri. Other than that this was a nice big vs. little title match where the slower paced parts added to the match.
  9. 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.
  10. Man Choshu is sick of doing hold for hold wrestling. Anytime he gets the chance he is stomping Inoki's ass. Inoki is not having it and... removes the turnbuckle pad? Choshu also agrees to remove 1 turnbuckle pad and this is now an Onita deathmatch with the exploding barbedwire boards replaced by exposed turnbuckles! They do some cool phone booth fighting throwing punches and trying to be the first to smash the other guy into the corner. Inoki dominates for a bit, but Choshu finally catches him and... breaks his own hand doing a backdrop. Choshu bloodies Inoki and works over him with nice punches but they are forced to do a quick finish with Inoki choking Choshu in the ropes and getting DQ'd. This was looking good until the unfortunate finish. Admittedly a bloody Inoki was really crazy looking, his face was turning very pale and he did these creepy groans and growls. When all the jumpsuit trainees jump on him and he erupts it looked like something from a 60s horror schlock movie.
  11. Crazy crazy heated match. You don‘t see a lot of matches with the crowd this excited for a bunch of technical guys in black trunks. Not quite a shootstyle match, but really tight action and really intense stuff with Fujinami & Kimura being outgunned by the UWF duo. Kido can always beat you with a slick reversal, and anytime Maeda starts throwing kicks you think he is about to kill someone. Kimura taking it to Maeda was cool to see and he and Fujinami had some inspired exchanges. Lots of cool moments throughout, including an awesome dive tease and a great crafty finish. It happens in a split second and once you realize what happened you smile. Check it out if you‘re a fan of the time period. This happened on the same card as Fujiwara/Yamada. Mid 80s NJPW was loaded.
  12. This was a pure 70s grappling epic with an absolutely molten last 10 minutes or so. The grappling here wasn't intricate or anything, but they worked an ultra tight contest and did a good job bringing the intensity up and down. Most importantly, the match never felt slow or dry, so I'll take this over your Dory Funk Jr snoozefest. Inoki is very dominant early on, running through his holds including a great briding indian deathlock, but then Fujinami slaps him like a bitch and finally starts bringing the fight. I especially liked the sequence where Inoki teases the Butterfly Suplex and goes for a fireman carry. He didn't even hit that butterfly suplex later! Inoki's defensiveness ends up backfiring on him and Fujinami puts him in a Figure 4. The Figure 4 segment eats up a good chunk of thise 35 minuteish match so better have a good book ready. I didn't have a problem with it though because the payoff was strong and Inoki's selling was right on the money. Seeing Fujinami pushing the mythical Inoki to the limit was spectacular and the crowd was surface of the sun level hot for the possible dethroning. The finish was inevitable but atleast we get a massive pop for Fujinami powering out of the Octopus Hold. This went over half an hour with barely a bump in it but it was still totally spectacular pro wrestling.
  13. A sprint! Inoki stalls to begin with, then tries a leg trip to the outside and Choshu is fighting for dear life against that damn leg trip. Earth to wrestlers: this is how you tell your audience why your moves are important – by creating STRUGGLE. Choshu immediately blitzes Inoki and just tries to run him over basically, but Inoki takes it to the ground and dominates him there for a while, also hitting some great enzuigiris and Ali kicks. Inoki seems to have the upper hand for a few exchanges, but then Choshu clocks him with a lariat out of nowhere! Inoki is seeing stars and narrowly avoids another one, but Choshu connects another to the back of the skull and that's it. Choshu does the impossible in less than 10 minutes! Ferocious stuff and the equivalent to something like Dundee/Rich. Two guys doing what they do best, sticking to their roles and putting eachother over.
  14. I'm not sure how my taste in wrestling managed to change so quickly, maybe it's the insane GWE-related amounts of wrestling I've watched, but last time I watched this match wasn's so long ago, maybe a year or two ago. I thought it was good, this time I thought it was absolutely marvelous. Super Strong Machine trips Maeda as he's entering the ring and attacks him, that whole angle was so great and really puts into perspective how amateur a lot of angles even major promotions do cime off. Maeda does a disgusting blade job, so naturally you need a million people to hide it well, and the commotion a pre-match attack causes is the perfect opportunity for that. All you really see is Maeda eating shots and the ringpost and by the time he gets up he's just covered in blood, it's insane. Maeda falls down as he enters the ring and sets the stage for the match. Maeda is on the verge if defeat the entire match, as Masa Saito just nuked him with Suplexes and Lariats. They cool it off with a Boston Crab and while the crowd senses Maeda isn't losing to such a hold they use it to transition to Maeda's comeback, as Maeda pushes Saito off him by going backwards. From then on it'a a matter of life and death, and they pack so much neat stuff into the finishing stretch it feels kinda redundant to name every singLe thing done and why it worked. Saito's punches could've been better, but that's just nitpicking. ****
  15. Wow, this was great! Andre doing a basic chinlock or suplex looks like death. He has so much offense that would be so completely hokey in anyone else's hands but works well for Andre. This really picks up when Khan makes the comeback and goes after Andre's leg. I've never seen Khan work as a babyface, so him having so much fire surprised me. This feels kinda like a man in the wild trying to take it to a bear caught in a trap and having some success but still being overmatched. Still, they get over the damage Khan has been able to do in short spurts, because Andre sells and is wobbly even when he's in control. I love him covering himself so he can't feel Khan's punches anymore. No one really gets the cinematic possibilities of working as a giant quite like Andre. ****1/4
  16. Kazuchika Okada vs Shinsuke Nakamura - NJPW G-1 Climax Finals 8/10/14 The dream match that NJPW booking has wisely put off since Okada burst onto the scene in the beginning of 2012 pits two stablemates from CHAOS against each other for the G-1 Climax Championship and pretty much a mortal lock to headline the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show. Okada has reminded me a lot of old Nakamura. From a technical execution standpoint, Okada is a great wrestler, but he seems disinterested in the outcome of a match and just is not showing passion. In this match being challenged by one of the other two top natives in NJPW, he seems hungry to assert himself as the premiere pro wrestler in the world. I want see more of that from Okada. Nakamura has been great in the matches I have seen in 2014. His new oddball persona of wearing Michael Jackson-inspired jackets and dancing like MJ is entertaining outside the ring and inside he is the last of the Strong Style workers which means a heavy emphasis on counter submission wrestling and strikes especially blows to the head. It is not fancy, but it is going to get the job and it may get it done quickly. Okada does not really have a flash submission or knockout in his arsenal so he is susceptible in his long setup times to a wrestler like Nakamura. Nakamura is what made this match dynamic. He forced Okada out of his comfort zone and to react to how he was wrestling, which made it more compelling than the Okada-style which can be mechanical at times. Early on, it was all about posturing and bravado. Psyching each other out in a macho pissing contest, Okada does his cocky clean break so Nakamura responds with stare at the belly button. Because these two have never faced off, Nakamura feels like the favorite because of his experience in big time matches. So when Nakamura is fucking around during this break, Okada immediately clamps on his a DDT. Right there, I know Okada came to play. Okada is still a cocky punk so he can't resist putting his one foot on Nakamura's chest and hitting the Rainmaker pose. We get the first strike exchange and of course the King of Strong Style wins with a knee lift. Okada has to avoid those exchanges because that is an area that Nakamura will crush him in. Nakamura just lays waste to Okada in pretty much every conceivable fashion of using a barrage of knee lifts. Now it is Nakamura's turn to get cocky and does little playful kicks to Okada. What is going to be Okada's strategy? When Tanahashi feels overwhelmed, he neutralizes his opponent by attacking the knee. What does Okada have in his arsenal to set up the Rainmaker? The answer is of course, his dropkick. Nakamura goes for a running knee one too many times and Okada is able to counter by setting him up top hitting a dropkick causing him to tumble all the way to floor. Okada presses his advantage on the outside with a Hangsman DDT. Normally, Okada would let this run for a countout, but he is not fucking around in this match and he is not going to give Nakamura a second to breathe. Big Elbow Drop! Okada really has a case for best elbow drop ever. It is fucking pretty. RAINMAKER POSE~! GEDO IS JAAAAAACCCCCKKKKEEEDDDDD! Now this is where Nakamura shines, his counterwrestling game. First it is a lungblower to buy himself time. Then when Okada goes for a submission, he walks right into the trap. Nakamura gets a rear naked choke and is looking for a cross armbreaker, but settles for a Triangle. As Okada stands to reach for the rope, Nakamura uses his long legs to force him over into a cross-armbreaker. Gedo is freaking out as Okada writhes and flops around looking for the rope. Perfect way to respect the cross-armbreaker. Nakamura buries knees deep into Okada and is looking for the Boma Ye. Okada counters with the White Noise into the Knee (not my favorite move). Okada successfully avoids Nakamura's wild roundhouse kicks and uses dropkicks to set up the Tombstone. Now it is time to Make It Rain in Seibu, FLYING CROSS ARMBREAKER OUT OF THE RAINMAKER~! Holy shit! Definitely one of the best spots of 2014! Nakamura the counterwrestler strikes again. Okada steps on his face to force the release. BOMA YE~! to the back of the head. This is treated like it levels the playing field, but i felt like Nakamura was in the driver's seat. Strike exchange ends with an Okada dropkick. Nakamura pulls one out of the Suzuki game plan and baits him into hitting dropkick again. He collapses on a rope running spot and Okada goes for the dropkick again, but Nakamura was playing possum so Okada crashes and burns and BOMA YE~! KICK OUT! Okada will not be denied tonight. Nakamura gets a running start but as we saw in the Shibata match if you can guard against that it is his downfall. Okada hits with a dropkick on the button. Nakamura blocks The Rainmaker with a knee and looks for Boma Ye, but Okada closes the gap by running towards it and grabbing the leg. Love that! Nakamura uncorks two closed fist to set up Landslide, but Okada reverses out with a backslide. When Nakamura kicks out, Okada hangs on to hit not one, not two, but three Rainmakers to win the G-1 Climax. That was the story of this match Okada was not fucking around and he was taking no chances. I loved that there were no kickouts. It was Okada ensuring his victory. Okada looked like a boss here using the dropkick liberally like a Misawa would with his elbow to set up his offense. We saw with Shibata how you can defend against Nakamura's Boma Ye and Okada executing that strategy perfectly. He survived Nakamura's counterwrestling and the Flying Cross Armbreaker out of the Rainmaker was an awesome spot. Kicking out of Boma Ye was definitely a big star-making move! You really felt like Okada wanted it more on that night. I distilled action down to its best parts but there was some fluff and overkill late paired with a lukewarm beginning that I think this is behind Styles/Suzuki and Nakamura/Tanahashi, but I would peg this no worse than a top 5 NJPW Match of the Year and Top Ten Match of the Year overall. Nakamura's counterwrestling/strikes versus Okada's dropkick & heart made for one epic story on this night. ****1/2
  17. Don't really know what to say except that it has maybe the greatest selling performance in the history of pro wrestling **** 1/4
  18. 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.