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Found 89 results

  1. 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. ****5/8
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. G. Badger

    Spotlight - Tiger Mask

    I finally broke down and bought the big DVD set of the Tiger Mask collection. From what it looks, its most of his taped matches from NJPW. I know there was a big of shift in popular opinion a few years back on the Tiger vs Dynamite matches. I still love those battles but, I wanted to revisit them. Also, I wanted to see more of Tiger Mask as other than those bouts, I'd only seen one other match vs Kobayashi. I knew there was more I needed to see for myself, whatever my final opinion would be. Let's take a look! 4/23/81 - Tiger Mask Debut: Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid: Tiger's debut and its pretty good. Its a bit frenetic and all over the place story wise. Dynamite Kid has met his match. Its a little rough in spots so, I can't say it was a tremendous athletic showing but, a fun start. 6/04/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Chris Adams & Mike Masters - Highlights 8/02/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Scorpion - Highlights, Scorpion is a good base for Tiger's moves 9/18/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Solar & El Solitario -Highlights 9/23/81 -Tiger Mask vs. El Solar: This started out really good but, Solar hurts his shoulder and this is mainly them trying to figure out how to make match. This surely could have been clipped instead of the Scorpion match...and I like Solar too! Only the beginning needs to be watched. 10/08/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Masked Hurricane (Bobby Lee): The best bout so far. This is a mask vs mask match. Guess who wins? There is an emphasis on wrestling rather than flashy moves and the quality benefits. The neat counters or reversals are there but, are few and more meaningful. Good match 10/30/81 - Tiger Mask & Kengo Kimura vs. El Signo & Negro Navarro - Highlights. A full match would have been great. 11/05/81 - Tiger Mask vs. Gran Hamada: Exactly what I was hoping for! Hamada was doing more of the spectacular while Tiger was hitting his kicks. Tiger has slowed from his debut and he and Hamada did a near perfect lucharesu match like we'd see a decade plus later in M-Pro. Near classic match to me! Like ****1/4 territory 12/01/81 - Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Canek & Super Maquina: A full tag match, yes!!! Super Maquina has a similar outfit as Maquina Salvaje, a football player. What's odd is Super Maquina is Super Machine in English. But, this is too early for Junji Hirata to even be thinking of doing his famous gimmick. Oh the confusion of masks and older wrestling, its great! Nevertheless, he's a good worker. This is one of the few El Canek matches that I have seen. I gotta say I like him! The Mexican team pits their power against the Japanese team's speed & technique. And another match where "wrestling" is the focus and exciting spots are kept to a minimum for maximum effect . And the big highspot was for the finish of the match...very good stuff. Really a pleasure to watch and had me wanting to see more. 12/08/81 - Tiger Mask vs. El Canek: So this is the follow up to the above tag match. Its a pretty big deal that El Canek is facing TM. Or the other way around, I guess. The first move was kinda wonky so, they re-did it. Eh, I don't like when they do this but, the rest of bout erased that faux pas. Plus the little spot was pretty cool to see done right. Lotsa good power moves & stretching from Canek. Tiger had some clever answers for those but, also pressed the Mexican with his kicks. Exciting "80's finish" but, you know what? If its done right like this, I really don't mind. Very good match..perhaps a tad below the tag match. This start had me worried a little bit but, really ended well. The Hamada match, man, so glad I saw this. I may like it more than my "rating" indicates. Plus the tag & El Canek singles bout hit the nail right on the head. I was really worried that this would be all flippy nonsense especially based on what the highlighted matches showed. I really hope those are kept to a minimum as I go forward. Thanks for reading and stay safe! Be smart out there too!
  5. The final installment of my NJPW 1988 adventure! Its ending with stuff from the 09/12 show. Of course there is more out there but, I just don't own it or have easy access to it...and that's the name of my game If you have NJ World or do file loading or wanna get DVDs, please check it out. I'm sure there's really good stuff I've missed. Anyhow, let's begin! Big Van Vader vs Bam Bam Bigelow (09/12) I have the full version of this but, overall I was disappointed here. Bigelow didn't bring much to the table. I wanted to see them pound away at one another & its not what they did. It had a few nice moments but ended in a DQ. The best was when Vader was exiting the ring he pushed some fan in the face. OK match as their 08/08 bout is the one to see. T. Fujinami, K. Kimura, Y. Fujiwara, S. Koshinaka & K. Yamada vs R. Choshu, M. Saito, S.S.Machine, K. Kobayashi & H. Saito (09/12): 5 on 5 elimination match that goes about 40 minutes. I have the final few minutes on DVD but, was able to find this in 3 parts on YouTube. I'm really glad that I saw this in full especially since folks have said its a classic. After watching this as well as a good chunk of '88 New Japan, I think this is a very good match especially the first 2/3rds. There was a good deal of punching and stomping in this match so, to have the final portion just be MORE of that...eh it kinda fizzled out for me. We get some good blood but, it feels like the wrong wrestler got color and I just lost what they were trying to tell/show me. Nevertheless, I had fun watching. There were some really great segments and match ups but wasn't a classic. Give it a shot though! So, this wraps up my exploration of 1988 NJPW and it was pretty great! Everything leading up to and including the 08/08 Inoki vs Fujinami match was fantastic in one form or another. Obviously there were some classic encounters that I'm glad that I finally saw. I am a little bummed that this final installment was not the awesome send off that I was hoping for. I do feel like I've seen everything that I truly wanted to for '88 NJ though so, I can't be too letdown. Like I said above, the 5 man elimination match was very good and did have some really worthwhile action but, I think I enjoyed the 04/27 elimination more than 09/12. The best matches to me are: Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki (01/25) Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiro Hase (03/11) Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27) Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22) Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08) And after the September matches, I'm missing the last 3 months of the year. So, clearly this isn't an end all - be all review of '88 but, I'm happy with what I've watched. Its totally lived up to my expectations and the above bouts are the matches I would truly recommend checking out! Thanks for reading! I'm moving on to the 2011 wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament to change things up!
  6. Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08): It was a gruelling 60 minutes of struggling to gain the upperhand. Inoki probably controlled more than Fujinami (60-40) but, Fujinami had youth on his side. Just an amazing display of endurance and athleticism and a perfect story showing the fighting spirit, strong style and NJPW leading up in essence to this very match. It's not really an ending but the continuation. The clips really helped get this across especially after the match. The definitive strong style match, the definitive epic, a must-see. Re-watch: 54 minute version..I swore that I had the full version but, we don't miss too much. 60 grueling minutes of wrestling action is right! I really don't think this was planned out at all! In a good way Both guys just fought over holds, working in strikes and suplexes when they could find an opportunity. This was amazing and organic. But, this was Inoki strong style and that is Pro Wrestling as the strongest of all martial arts. This is the perfect example of that (disregarding mix style matches). This was student proving that he was the true IWGP champion and the equal to the legend and hero that's Antonio Inoki. All that being said, I'm not fond of long matches anymore. So, I would probably have this as my #3 NJPW 1988 classic behind Fujinami vs Choshu and Inoki vs Choshu. But a must see classic nonetheless! Glad that I took time to watch this again. Thanks for reading! Stay safe folks
  7. Let's look at Part 5 of New Japan in 1988! Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Shiro Koshinaka (06/26): Kobayashi is such a badass. He just rips up the title match declaration and hassles the official. This is a key match up with the Junior captains of the NJPW and Riki teams. That being said, this is the longest Jr. match shown on TV thus far and is very good stuff. Move-wise this is not as fast paced or innovative as some other bouts however, the simple suplexes and pinning combinations felt really important and dire. Its very scrappy and the crowd eats it up. Its hard not too just dig this match. Very good bout! Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26): NJ Vader was such a monster in damn near every way that matters. Fujinami is as capable and tough a wrestler as you can ask for and Vader just destroys him with power slams and splashes. Fujinami has technical victories over B.V.V. but, we may just chalk those up to luck or smarts. Vader is not going to leave anything up to luck or give The Dragon a chance to be clever this time. Perhaps unwisely, Tatsumi wants to prove that he's a real champion and slay the monster...This is a great title fight and probably the best Vader match thus far. I've seen this match a few times over the years but, it was fresh and exciting like it was my first go around. Take 15 minutes and check this out. To end this post, we see a confrontation between Vader and Inoki along with Kengo Kimura, Riki Choshu, and Masa Saito that takes place on 07/15. It features a nice sequence or two of Inoki and Vader getting into it. Antonio shows he's ready for the big man to give it his best shot. Doing a little looking ahead, this sets the stage for a summer round robin to see who will face Fujinami at the 08/08 show (you may have a guess). Nevertheless, I want to see the matches, man! That's a pretty stacked line-up. Next time, we'll see some matches from this round robin plus Buzz Sawyer and Manny Fernandez kick butt! Thank for reading!
  8. Back for part 4 of New Japan 1988! This is also my 150th blog entry so, I'm pretty excited. I'm doubly happy because late 80's Puro was one of the big focuses of Puro + More and I'm keeping things relatively true to my original intentions. Well, that's all good but, you came here to read and learn about '88 New Japan! So, let's get down to it Owen Hart vs Keiichi Yamada (06/10): Very nice leg attacks from Yamada but, Owen's not concerned with that. Too bad but, eh let's assume it didn't really 'hurt.' Nevertheless, Yamada adjusts his game plan to deal with the acrobatic Canadian...and we get a real Jr. wrestling treat. 7 minutes or so shown and it was very good stuff. You can see from this and the last NJ entry that Owen Hart was getting the spotlight in the Juniors division. I can't recall if they wanted him to be a new Dynamite Kid but, I know Bret's autobiography talks in some detail of NJPW's interest in Owen especially in '88. He eventually leaves to go to the WWF for a short time only to return a few years later in 1991 where he & Yamada (as Liger) have some great matches. I wonder what if Owen stayed in NJ for the Super Junior explosion of the 1990's. We may have missed out on a few classics in WWF but, how many more would we have seen if stayed? Owen vs Sasuke and vs Ultimo are a couple that would have been dream bouts. Masa Saito & Big Van Vader vs The Gaspar Brothers (06/24): The Gaspars are Bob Orton Jr. and Dan Moffat/Jason the Terrible (from Stampede and not the guy who Quinones got to play Jason in the IWA, W*ING, etc). That being said this has a very sleazy indy vibe which is a lot of fun especially since Vader isn't selling shit for two guys dressed like Jason and Tiger Jeet Singh has twins. Its too short to rate but, funny goofy stuff. Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24): Belt is on the line (I think Owen won it from Yamada if I remember...no matter either way) and like most TV stuff this is Joined in Progress and we get 6+ minutes. That shortage of footage is the bummer but, what we get is gold. Good focus from Owen who is looking to weaken Koshinaka's back. Kosh of course has a comeback like Pulp Fiction Travolta but, can the Canuck counter it? This was great from what was shown...I mean it was better than great...it was awesome (but) I don't have the full match...the beginning could be the shits. But man, this JIP version was something to see. Owen and Shiro were doing state of the art stuff here. Now...those boys at the TV production office must have had good reason to do a snip job on that banger of a match...let's see... Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24): Remember their last encounter where Fujinami blazed Choshu from the start but, his body broke down? Keep that in mind. Riki Choshu is like the Terminator (from the first film). He is an unstoppable killing machine. He's not going to allow Tatsumi a chance to make good on his assault style offense. He's going to push past whatever his foe throws at him in order to crush, kill, destroy. Fujinami, is like Kyle Reese though. He knows Riki better than anyone and knows if he can stay one step ahead then, he might be able to trick and trap his opponent. If not then, there is a Riki Lariat with his name on it. This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry. Once blood begins to flow then, you know this is something truly special. Best match of the project thus far without a doubt. Whew! I was not expecting the one-two punch of Owen/Koshinaka & Fujinami/Choshu. I was fanning out for sure...I'm glad that we got that epic Strong Style clash in full. Although, they could have given the Junior bout a couple more minutes and cut out the Gaspar match but, I'm just thinking out loud Excellent way to commemorate my 150th blog post. Can't wait for a 150 more! But one step at a time...Post 151 and NJPW 1988 part 5 coming soon! Thanks for reading!! Go watch some wrestling
  9. We're back and on to Part 3 of New Japan in 1988! I've got a crappy cold right now so, let's see if I can get it together enough to write this entry without a hundred typos. Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27): My compilation has this listed as their 05/08 match but, it follows the multi-man elimination match from 04/27 (see previous entry) and a couple other points of research show this as their April match. That outta the way, this was all kinds of exciting. Fujinami knows he's got to take it to the Mastadon right from the start if he has any chance. Inoki got killed on the 01/04 shows because he was treating B.V. Vader as a normal "big man." Fujinami's plan is working until he gets gorilla press dropped onto a guardrail...throat first! From here Vader chokes and torment The Dragon...Fujinami is really fighting to survive. His "plan" is shot to shit and any comeback seems to enrage Vader. Be on the look out for the cross body block that damn near kills both guys. We get a "finish" but, its only the beginning! Next we get a little video package explaining the UWF 2.0 split. We even see clips of Maeda vs Yamazaki. With that I'm going to insert a match that I found on Youtube that happens earlier in the year... Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiroshi Hase (02/05): This is the precursor to their March classic (see part 1 of series). This is a very good to great match - and I would have to say Hase's selling of the story is what makes this special. His comeback/revenge submissions are really choice! Look up Hase '88 and you should find this match no problem OK now back to May 1988! The TV footy jumps us way into Fujinami vs Vader (05/08) and this is all fire! Both guys are pissed and we get 6-7 of the final minutes. Sweet! Its 80's footage so, I'll take what I can get! Koshinaka vs Hase (05/27): They show this like its a JIP match but, we really only get the final 2 minutes of the match but, we get a clean exciting finish. Nice! Not enough shown to really rate. Owen Hart vs H. Hase (05/27): JIP with Owen stuck in the Scorpion lock but, soon enough he finds his way out. Hase is a destroyer in '88 and isn't giving the Canadian a chance. 5 minutes shown, very good stuff. Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27): We get this in full thankfully! Fujinami is picking Choshu apart to the point where he's bleeding early on. If you know Choshu, he's one big move away from his comeback. What's interesting is that Fujinami injures his ankle (a twist from an earlier move? Or is this the story!?) and Rik is on it like a pirahna. The Dragon will not quit in true fighting spirit...when he gets his Dragon Sleeper on, you know he's not letting go! Great dramatic match that is only one battle in the war. Check these matches out and thanks for reading! I'm gonna go get a cough drop and go to bed...
  10. Damn, I didn't expect to like this so much. Any Fujinami big match is guaranteed to have a ton of wrestling, and there was a lot of that here, but there was also a ton of disdain right from the opening which has Chono spitting Fujinami in the face. Chono is far from a great matworker, but he was game here, busting out an awesome calf slicer and a flying clothesline that was like something Necro Butcher would do. He also wasn't afraid to get into stiff slap battles and I liked his headbutts and mafia kicks he would use to combat Fujinami's mat prowess. Fujinami on his side had one of the most brutal dropkicks I've ever seen and an epic dive. This was a very typical NJPW style match, there was no grand finishing run with a ton of big moves to be kicked out of or something, instead it was about avoiding the other guy's finisher when push came to shove. That and the fact both guys sold a ton of exhaustion made the second half of this pretty great. Little bit of a lucha title match influence here with some dramatic bumps for momentum shifts and that sick guardrail dive from Fujinami. Great stuff, glad that this was brought up as the 232nd best match of the 90s
  11. The new Aoyagi singles matches may be the best thing about the flood of NJPW handhelds. This could've gone longer than 6 minutes but for that kind of match it was really fun puncher vs. Counter puncher type stuff. It's about Aoyagis kicks vs. Fujinamis sleeper holds, and both these guys do a really nice job selling kicks and sleeper holds. Fujinami shows more aggression than I expected pummeling Aoyagi and eventually catching him. Obviously Aoyagis kicks and knees ruled.
  12. Good tag title match made cool by young Shiro Koshinaka putting on a gutsy performance against the overwhelming force of Choshu & Saito and a blazing hot finish sequence with Fujinami bleeding and Choshu hitting a massive lariat. Could've used slightly more efficient structure but the level of work was good, Shiro kept played his "underdog who will slap your shit" role to the max and the blood on Fujinami made this quite epic for a few moments. This is why it's worth going through the NJ handhelds.
  13. 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.
  14. I wish MUGA had been a full time promotion at this time. This was mostly on the mat, which is where everyone here looks good. This was certainly a good use of Hase whose amateur style stuff still looks very powerful. He and Nishimura with his awesome briding where the standouts here early on. Mutoh just did his usual spiel for the finish, altough Fujinami hitting a flying knee on him was really fun and Nishimuras selling made it look better than usual.
  15. Great intense grappling with the crowd popping for everything, pretty much. I thought it built pretty damn well to the finishing stretch. ****
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