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Found 79 results

  1. William Bologna

    Tatsumi Fujinami

    Fujinami is a wrestler I've long thought I'd like without ever seeing much of his work. As a longtime All Japan mark and all-around wrestling philistine, I've never had much occasion to dive into the work of a man who is, according to the inarguable dictates of science, the 20th greatest wrestler of all time. Of all time! But I have an NJPW World account and some time to kill between their last letdown of an event and upcoming, dog-ass awful tag team tournament, so why not watch every Fujinami match on the service? They didn't make it easy (I hesitate to blame Gedo personally, but who else is there?). Normally a wrestler has two entries in the tag list; one in Japanese, and one in our Roman script. For some reason, there are four Fujinamis in the archive, and each one has a different number of matches. Dammit, Gedo! I choose the first of these, with the largest number of matches (44). It seems to be mostly in chronological order. WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship bout Carlos Estrada vs Tatsumi Fujinami I guess this is the title that wound up in the J-Crown before the WWF demanded it back. Here's what I like about Carlos/Jose Estrada (and kudos to the MSG ring announcer for that rolled R on his last name): The dude starts heeling immediately. He lofts the belt like a dick and then proceeds to bitch and moan the whole time the ref is checking him. Here is a man who will take a shortcut, you say to yourself. Meanwhile, Fujinami's in the other corner wearing the traditional young lion gear and looking all wholesome and full of fighting spirit. Estrada brings a lot of hip tosses and some pretty sweet full-body-windup punches, and Fujinami gets his fighting spirit comebacks here and there. In response to a couple totally rad dropkicks, Estrada puts on the full heel handshake act. The beg-off, the hands behind the back, the offered handshake, the full drop to the knees one hand behind the back offered handshake. Will this virtuous young man fall for the wiles of the crafty veteran? What if I told you there were no wiles, and Estrada just wanted to shake hands? And the fans boo him for just shaking hands and not cheating? Seriously, this guy's an amazing heel. Eventually Estrada goes for and misses some kind off flip of the top rope. Fujinami hits him with what must be one of the first recorded dragon suplexes, and - making an argument that wrestling in 1978 is better than it is in 2017 - pins him with it. Fujinami reacts with wild, hair-out-of-place enthusiasm - he can't believe he did it! His joy is infectious, as the American crowd seems to be just as excited as he is (at least the collection of sideburns and turtlenecks picked up by the camera is). Estrada sells like he's dead, because he's a pro and he just got nailed with a damn dragon suplex in 1978. An in-ring in-Japanese interview follows, in which they seem to talk a lot about the suplex and about Fujinami doing his best. This must have been fascinating for the audience. This was great. Early Fujinami was like Hirai Kawato, and that's pretty much the best thing you can be.
  2. Great intense grappling with the crowd popping for everything, pretty much. I thought it built pretty damn well to the finishing stretch. ****
  3. At this point Fujinami was mostly relegated to tag work. Now he takes on Inokis project Yasuda. Before the match starts Yasuda insists Fujinami puts on MMA gloves, so when Fujinami does so Yasuda rushes him. One punch exchange later and Fujinamis nose is gushing blood. This really feels like a fight to the death with Yasuda trying to choke out Fujinami, but the old guy can always hit a surprise move. Only 5 minutes but a surprisingly good match.
  4. The most impressive thing about this match is that in 90 minutes there is literally no downtime at all. Even the Inoki vs. Choshu matwork was compelling. The crowd heat is insane and the fact that that level of heat was consistently maintained for 90 minutes is even more insane. I would say Fujinami was the MVP with Animal as a close second but everyone was great in it. Incredible match to say the least but one I have had trouble rating because it is difficult to distinguish the individual pairings from the overall story.
  5. Super simple, intense affair between two of the greatest workers New Japan ever had. This works because New Japan booking conditions you that heavyweight matches can be fickle. Either of these guys can snap an arm or leg at anytime to decide the match. Fujinami is wary of Hashimoto early on, and prevents his assault for a moment by pushing him into the corner and decking him with lefts and rights, but soon Hashimoto goes after him like a demon. Fujinami just takes a monumental assbeating in this, as Hashimoto kicks him in the eye, in the face, in the back of the head, kicks him in the corner and then throws him back in the middle so he can kick him some more while he's down. In NJPW there's not always a „big comeback“ after a beatdown so fans buy the possibility that Hash may just beat Fujinami to death right there and win. Fujinami is a supreme seller when he wents to and you really buy the potential ref stoppage from his „holy shit I can't move“ state. Brutal stuff that draws you in, exactly the type of bout these two are so good at.
  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. UWF top dog delivers a monstrous beating to New Japan's hero, who will not stay down no matter what. Maeda is good as the destroyer but Fujinami's epic selling performance makes this a classic. The top NJPW match of the 80s. ****3/4
  9. JIP 1 minute in. The opening exchanges are solid, but this really gets hot when Tenryu kicks Kojima in the face and his nose starts gushing blood. Tenryu & Koshinaka proceed punch and twist his nose to a smear and this is pretty grizzly and great. Some surprisingly clever spots ensue (I love that Fujinamis Dragon Screw is a super dangerous move), Koshinaka looks really good hitting people in the back of the head with his ass, there is also a really nice Fujinami/Tenryu showdown with Fujinami again busting out a huge kneedrop in a great moment. Kojima is not super compelling here getting punched in the nose, but he is perfectly alright as your dime store japanese heavyweight who can hit a hard lariat and Tenryu just beating him down was amusing.
  10. You look at this matchup, taking place in MUGA, and you think „this sounds like a lot of matwork“. And you'd be correct. Pretty much a purist's dream match with all four guys hitting the mat hard. Perfect blend of shootstyle, 80s NJPW and MUGA psychology. Ishikawa fits like a glove here and looks great. Aside from all the great arm whips, headscissors and armbars and slick grappling they knew how to make basic holds meaningful and spice things up with struggle. Really liked the young guys getting the advantage and old guy Fujinami busting out a huge kneedrop off the top to break up a submission nearfall. Also Nishimura looks awesome and as good as he was in the 2000s. Match is a little short (17 minutes) but as good as it looks on paper.
  11. I would have to think that Tenryu's WAR promotion has the most love themed name. Wrestle and Romance...ah yes, that is passion!! I feel like they were also Wrestle and Roses too. I could have made that up, I dunno. I love it anyhow! Other Valentine appropriate wrestling names in my opinion are the AJW tag teams Tokyo Sweethearts, Crush Gals (crush like a school boy not as in skulls) & Honey Wings. That was just an aside. Here are some of my favorite Romance matches: Tenryu, Kitahara & Masao Orihara vs Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura Aoyagi from 10/21/92 War vs NJ. Orihara's awesome opening...hell Orihara's awesome performance overall. The dude made the match. All of the Tenryu vs Koshinaka interactions...straight up windpipe chops. I love both of these guys' enthusiasm/hatred. Kitahara vs Aoyagi kicking the crap outta each other is good. Would like me to see more...The violent chaotic finish...I mean Kimura is eating chops to the face...how is that not fantastic!? Women are crying, men are shouting, Ishikawa comes out, streamers...oh yeah!! The main event to WAR's 02/14/93 show: Tenryu & Ishikawa vs Fujinami & Hase. This was a dream match for me. Marky Mark for all four wrestlers but, this wasn't some exhibition or feud transition match. This was fiery and exciting as heck! All four guys were quick and on point all match with that WAR gang rumble pace. Everybody really impressed me...this was a great match. Then when Hashimoto came out after the bell, it sealed the deal. This whole segment, or whatever you wanna call it in today's terms, was classic! WAR 05/05/97 Tenryu, Kitahara & Jun Kikuchi vs. Abdullah The Butcher & Tarzan Goto & Ryo Miyake Cage Match. Pandemonium from the get go with the heel team waiting with chairs by the WAR team's entrance. Tenryu nearly falls thru the cage at one point, he & Abby have a nifty strike exchange, Goto brings glass into the mix, Kitahara is rocking camo pants and ups his manliness quotient by 10% (like he needed it), and this is random awesomeness.
  12. G. Badger

    Assorted NJPW Tags from 1986

    Here are some really great tag matches from New Japan in 1986 that don't get much talk. Thought I'd share the love! Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido vs Antonio Inoki & Keiichi Yamada (02/05/86): Wow what a great little match! The crowd really lets you know what's up since the work isn't mind-blowing or anything. This is the beginning of the legendary UWF/NJ feud and you can tell right here that dammit! It means something. Each guy just does his job well and it really pushes the intensity. Takada is such a bastard here & Yamada is such a good underdog but, we always knew that! Kido was impressive & Inoki is such a badass that anytime he was in the ring the place blew up with cheers as if the smallest offense could end the UWF guys chances. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido (08/05/86): An excellent strong-style tag match that was awesome when Fujinami & Maeda was were in together. They did some neat allusions to their 06/12 classic with Fujinami dodging the corner wheel kick. Maeda was sort of all over the place with his kicks, in the dangerous kind of way for instance he blasted Kengo in the mouth that almost killed the match. Still that makes him exciting and dangerous...adding to the combat sport aspect of strong-style. I would've liked a smoother finish. Overall pretty great match and fun compliment to the 06/12 match. Takada & Fujiwara vs Shiro Koshinaka & George Takano (09/05/86): A very good tag match with Takano being much better here than as Cobra, Takada was also much better here especially with his kicks, Fujiwara & Koshinaka are awesome throughout. Akira Maeda, Kazuo Yamazaki, Nobuhiko Takada, Osamu Kido & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs George Takano, Kantaro Hoshino, Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami (09/16/86): People don't think this one is as good as the one in March & maybe they're right but, I didn't think so. I thought this one was much better from an in-ring stand point. It was a sprint like the last one but there was actual sprinting and much more involved one-on-one action as the feuds had developed & the NJPW team was better without the fat old blonde guy Ueda & Inoki wasn't there to be the spoiler...it helped put the finish in doubt.
  13. G. Badger

    Mixed Up Monday: MUGA & NJPW

    Tatsumi Fujinami & Shinichi Nakano vs Osamu Nishimura & Yuki Ishikawa (03/03/98 MUGA): I hope you know what each guy looks like because everyone has black trunks, black boots, and black hair! This ain't your 2018 NJPW strong style with leather pants, dye jobs, and fancy colors! This is '98 MUGA and it's all about true Inoki style grappling and such. Most of this puppy was fought on the canvas with a slap, knee or suplex thrown for good measure. 3/4 cup of matwork, scrambling & 1/4 cup slap or knee, preferably stiff. This is probably my favorite style of matwork so, this was a dream match come true. I favor this over shoot style because I don't care for the point systems and the drama associated with keeping track of them. 1 point for rope breaks, 2 for a knockdown, 6 points for a fractured orbital bone, etc. Just fucking go for it man! That's what I want when I watch wrestling. I do enjoy shoot style but, sometimes it crosses over to 'nearly legit' and then, I remember it's not because no one in their right mind would give up that position in a real fight etc. Some kinda sex joke could probably be made there...go ahead think of one...chuckle. I did Thank you Jetlag for posting this on the 'tube. This is a great match, a dream match! Go see this! Osamu Kido & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Masahiro Chono (07/20/93 NJPW): Thank goodness for browsing around Youtube. Who knew this match was floating around NJ in '93? Not me I guess... 13 minutes of old school action here. I really, really dug this match...digging for gold here. Chono vs Fujiwara was the best. I'm a Chono fan so maybe I'm biased but, if you're reading this- go watch it. I highly recommend it and is a fantastic little bit of random wrestling goodness floating on down the information super highway. Mixed metaphor success!
  14. This is for the vacant CWA Intercontinental title. A fancam from germany where the crowd is hot for Fujinami as the babyface. Really awesome savage massacre. Vader was just obliterating Fujinami, like only Vader can, just trying to bash his skull in for the entire duration of the match, but eventually Vader ends up with a bloody eye and Fujinami gives it back to him, punching and chopping the cut, including a big leaping forearm smash right to Vader's eye. Vader is great as a wounded monster who can come back and crush his opponent anytime, and they work a nice finishing run where Fujinami looks really great, landing a GAEA Girls missile dropkick on Vader and catching him in believable fashion while remaining an underdog. This went 20+ minutes with no rounds and really could have been worked the exact same anywhere else in the world and would have worked. Best 90s Fujinami match I've seen and maybe the best Vader has had in Germany, depending on how much you like Otto Wanz.
  15. 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.
  16. Cagematch has Choshu's partner listed as Masahito Kitahara, but it's not -- it's Koki Kitahara. He's clearly brought in to eat the fall, but in the process he puts on a fiery, gutsy performance and he goes toe-to-toe with Tenryu as they trade some nasty slaps and punches to the mouth. He also eats some nasty chops from Tenryu straight to the throat. We get some instances and teases of the Choshu vs. Tenryu and Fujinami feuds from the 80's, but they're just flash moments and never really escalate to much. This isn't a MOTYC or anything, but it's worth watching just to see Tenryu and Kitara go at it.
  17. Conclusion of their series of awesome 70s junior title matches. There is some animosity at this point – Go doesn't want to shake Fujinami's hand. The ref makes him do it, but Fujinami slaps him in the face! The body of the match is fantastic as they go back and forth between tight matwork with nifty throws and takedowns and escalating into knocking the crap out eachother. Go slaps Fujinami back, and Fujinam shows he can go there, even kicking Go in the eye! Fujinami really is quite the skillful prick here. Go goes into a greco roman knuckle lock only to headbutt Fujinami in the eye, so Tatsumi does this smooth takedown, into a front headlock... they end up in the ropes, clean break right? Nope because Fujinami headbutts him right back. Fujinami really looks like a worldbeater here, even bridging up from a modified armbar, which was a damn impressive athletic mat spot. They tease the big throws and work a great finishing run where they wipe eachother out with awesome 70s dives and do hanging by a thread-nearfalls. Great little match, and Ryuma Go looked like the best wrestler ever to have fought space aliens.
  18. 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.
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