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  1. How are you folks doing? Staying cool and safe hopefully. What a heck of a summer, right? Sorry for taking so long to get the next installment of the blog out. The heat has really zapped my energy by the end of the day & I'm in no mood to turn my TV on to watch old wrestling DVDs. But, I have to press on don't I? Hot weather and pandemic anxieties be damned! In all seriousness, that is pretty much the case for my snail like pace. My goal for the better part of the year was to get a post every week but, its been a rough summer. For the last 2 weeks of work, we have been trying to catch up from what I'll call a total order system collapse. I'm not an expert but, everything ground to a halt as far as taking and shipping orders at work. I was able to get a lot done once we were up and running again but, it was a mighty job of catch-up we had to play. Top that off with the heat and the madness of living in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic...yeah I was lucky enough to enjoy bits of Impact, ROH and Smackdown last week. Making time to actively watch and critique wrestling wasn't happening. Nevertheless, when I saw my opportunity this weekend, I took it. Let's get on with the Spotlight on Tiger Mask! vs Ultraman (06/18/82): Ultraman has a neat outfit similar to Hijo del Santo. The character is based off a live action TV show akin to Power Rangers but, is from the 60's originally. I'm guessing NJ saw how popular the Tiger Mask cross-over was that they wanted to try their hand at a long time character like Ultraman. Welp...you know how that worked out...This was an OK match that could have been more if it weren't for some stumbles and bumbles. We get the debut of the Space Flying Tiger Drop (cartwheel plancha) but, this really could have been a clipped match. Tiger Mask/Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ultraman/El Polaco (06/25/82): Hey, hey! I'm always happy to see a full tag match on this set. One of the reasons I bought this was to see more Fujinami along with other lesser seen talent. This was pretty much just that as the Japanese team squashed the Luchadores. I'm surprised they continued the Ultraman stuff as he kinda got buried here. Nonetheless, we have... vs Ultraman (07/06/82): Despite the first two matches, this was pretty good. Only one little bumble when they try to add too many moves onto a sequence. Seriously, this is the TM vs Ultraman bout to watch. It doesn't get to crazy and has a definitive ending. Good match. vs Dynamite Kid (07/23/82): NJPW probably wanted to get the failed Ultraman feud out of everyone's memory so, they go for a safe bet and start up the bulk of Tiger vs Dynamite storyline for the summer of '82. This chapter closes with the legendary WWF MSG match. But, I'm getting ahead of myself! We're at the beginning here. On the previous occasions, Dynamite has been unable to get the better of the super hero. He's tried traditional rough housing, mat wrestling, and even quick attacks. Nothing has worked though. Here he goes full speed ahead showing that he can keep up with Tiger. There's not a great structure to the match but, the theme is that they are peers. I thought it worked well. Bret Hart's involvement at the end was fun and set up the Space Flying Tiger. Now here we have one of the big faux pas in the series. DK apparently no sells the dive and tombstones Tiger on the floor. To play devil's advocate, the crash & burn of the landing is obscured by the hard camera angle. The floor shot might have shown that Dynamite stepped aside and let Bret take the brunt of the dive. People talk about holy grail wrestling footage...I'd like to see the floor cam angle of that dive! Nonetheless, it was a great match and in terms of intensity and athleticism, this is hard to beat in 1982. Plus, we get an uncommon type of finish. vs Bret Hart (07/30/82): A few days later we see Bret w/ Dynamite at his side. The Canadian hero-to-be tries his hand at pinning the masked man. Let me tell you, this is the superior Bret vs Tiger match. In fact, it may very well be better than the above DK bout. We see a nice face/heel dynamic, Bret looked more confident and worked a smart match where Tiger used is fancy moves as hope spots/comebacks and NOT just to show off. Bret wasn't looking to work as equals he was looking to use his size, smarts, and ability to dominate TM. The story here and in most Bret/DK matches vs Tiger is to shows that they may be better, faster, stronger than TM but, they were hot heads and couldn't resist taking shortcuts. These shortcuts would then backfire. Tiger knew his opponents better and that knowledge is a weapon more dangerous than any spin kick or dive. If he could endure then, Tiger Mask could find a way to win. The finish played really well to this narrative and we get a great overall match. A different style than many of the others but, you could see that Tiger as a character and worker could adapt. Plus, it was a glimpse at what a great storyteller Bret would be. Again, great match! Tiger Mask/Tatsumi Fujinami/Kengo Kimura vs Dynamite Kid/Bret Hart/Greg Valentine (07/31/82): Oh man, this was shown in full & is a 2/3 falls match! Tiger isn't even in that much so, I'm surprised this was shown in full. I'm not complaining though. The North American team focused on beating up Kengo. He was really great at selling this beat down. I mean I've rarely seen anyone try to scramble or dive to make a tag like Kengo did in this match. One criticism I've seen is that Valentine looked like he didn't belong here or that he was bringing some corny WWF stuff to the match. I disagree. He was bringing Heavyweight action to a Junior Heavy match. In fact, I wish this was fought a little slower like Greg than the Red Bull & vodka crazy pace they were running. Still, the story was there with Kengo being the man in peril, the wrestling was on point, and the finish was bananas in the best way. So much fun, a very good bout and a very nice way to end this post! We got off to a rocky start with Ultraman but, settled in with Tiger Mask fighting some of Stampede's finest. That six man match was just bonus. Those three matches are really worth taking an hour and watching. Thanks for reading!
  2. ...and we're back! Let's start with clips...ugh great... Tiger Mask/Antonio Inoki/Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Masked Superstar/Don Muraco/Steve Wright (03/30/82) - clips Tiger Mask/Kengo Kimura vs. Steve Wright/Blackman (03/31/82) - great clips of Tiger against Wright & Blackman vs. Steve Wright (04/01/82): This was just excellent. It was a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals. It was what I consider an aggressive World of Sport style. Since this is a spotlight on Tiger, I want to mention how comfortable he is at this style as well as lucha libre. It was distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect. I think I'd have to say this was a classsic bout but, may not be everyone's cup of tea. You really have to want to see wrestling for wrestling's sake. vs. Black Tiger (04/21/82): Rollerball Rocco is the Black Tiger. He had a roughneck but, technical style that is what i imagined Bret vs Tiger would be. The first time, Tiger Mask did not have an answer for his foe. He we see Tiger's true rival (as established in the manga (imagine Vicious & Spike in Cowboy Bebop)) and told through the story of the match. Everytime we thought a TM flurry of kicks or dives would turn the tide, Black Tiger would shut him down. The superhero met his super villain...and Tiger snaps at the end. Almost betraying his vow to fight fair and for good (think like a technico) and turn back to the evil (rudo) ways of the syndicate he and Dark Tiger fight for. A very good match, a compelling story, if you know a little bit of the manga or the trope (again Cowboy Bebop uses it well and The Wild Bunch to a degree). I think what's even deeper is that NJ had the idea to bring in one of Saiyama's best opponents from the UK as his evil counterpart. I think it's the closest the TM and Black Tiger characters had matched real-life...or even tried to. They had a back story and a history. If you're unaware of these things then, its an OK match BUT with some depth, it makes this more substantial. Plus, it is only setting the stage for the future. vs. Les Thorton (05/25/82): This was a good technical match but, lacked any sort of chemistry or fire. Thorton did some good back work on Tiger but, it never went anywhere and then they wrapped the match up. Glad I watched this but, only to see how Tiger works with everyone. vs. Black Tiger (05/26/82): Man is that a hot crowd! They are eating every spectacular Tiger move up! Black Tiger doesn't give a damn. He's making the hero pay. Again, Black Tiger Rocco is staying one step ahead. I really like how BT kept going for the pin by using knuckle locks and leverage holds. This was a brilliant touch because it made the fight feel more real. It wasn't out of desparation to get the match over but, a way to show technical superiority over Tiger. Think of Bryan Danielson or Tatsumi Fujinami winning with a small package. Its not a cheap win like maybe a school boy roll up. Its a display of technical mastery and getting the "W." Even moreso like Danielson, BT Rocco is making Tiger expend all of this energy to kickout. These pin attempts are more like amateur wrestling attempts...making the opponent keep moving and fighting out so that, they'll be tired or hurt later and make a mistake. Honestly, its a simple thing but, so few wrestlers do it. If you're looking a this type of work as rest-holds or think every fucking hold has to set-up the finish then, we're going to disagree on this. I thought this was a near classic match. I've gone through a few of the match archives here on PWO to gauge my opinion against others. I (along with the Vader vs Sting matches) disagree with most folks on Tiger Mask. I'm only 2 discs into the set but, man, I'm really glad I bought this. I'm bummed that I was discouraged by the backlash or the style shift. It reminds me when my comic loving cousin & I said that "Jack Kirby sucked!" at 15 years old; thinking Jim Lee was the shit. Jack Kirby didn't suck but, our minds were so much about Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, the Kuberts and other modern artists, that we couldn't appreciate the simplicity, efficiency, and innovation of Kirby. I consider most folks here to have a pretty damn refined wrestling taste BUT, I think a lot of people had TM vs Dynamite as one of their first set of puro matches. It was probably amazing especially in comparison to what was happening in contemporary wrestling and perhaps other tape watching. like 'Whoa this was in the early 80s and they were doing shit 10 years before the NJ Jrs.!" Or AJPW or NOAH or whatever...maybe NJPW from the past couple years is your entry point. Regardless, I think everyone including myself was blown away by the spots, sequences, and bumps from the TM vs DK matches but, the actual matches were a blur because we were still catching our breaths from that amazing move! Then, when people went back, the moves had been surpassed and the trend was very much "how was the selling? did he get put in a leglock? Why didn't he sell the leg the rest of the match?" Under this scrutiny, early 1980s wrestling especially this lucha/World of Sport/Puro hybrid wasn't going to make the grade. I think people have cooled off on this as this is not emphasized in any wrestling promotion anymore for probably the last 10 years. If we were going to watch contemporary wrestling, all of the "is he selling that?" type of analysis had to make a stop. It was really putting a damper on our overall enjoyment of watching wrestling when ANY legwork wasn't sold like '88 RWTL Kawada. Man, I digress...I don't think anyone is going to go back and watch Tiger Mask matches anymore...I mean if they've already watched them. I'm not trying to change minds. Plus, there's so new much stuff out there. I'm an odd duck that I'm trying to pull myself away from the [FREE MATCH] videos and the other distractions and focus on watching what I want to watch. With so much newer stuff available online, I fear that the great wrestling of the past will no longer be pro-wrestling canon and be forgotten. How many great 1950's matches can you name? You may have a Thesz match but that's not the only one..but, no one talks about them so, we collectively are ignorant. Then, we must think if no one talks about them then wrestling then n the 50's must have sucked except a couple matches. We're about 40 years out from these Tiger Mask matches. That's like talking about Thesz vs Rikidozan in the 90's. See how time can get away from you? Ironically, these older bouts' availability online should make it easier to see but, if you've got the WWE network its very easy to get lost and lose years of your life there. Let alone if you've got a personal life! In summary, I feel like I really can trust my own judgement and knowledge at this point. I've been watching puroresu predominately for about 15 years so, I want this blog to still be a guide for folks looking to branch out or trust their own guts. This has been some sort of taste test I guess...if you're on board with what I've recommended in the past then, have no fear. If you think I'm off base here, ah well that's cool too. I thank you for reading and hopefully watching some of this wrestling. Its good to be curious Stay safe and be smart folks! This shit ain't getting better anytime soon...
  3. The first installment was really good stuff that quite honestly surprised me. My memory of Tiger Mask was all of the flips and spots with Dynamite Kid so, seeing him in different settings was refreshing. But, we start off with 2 Tiger vs Dynamite matches so, let's see how they hold up. vs. Dynamite Kid (01/01/82): The Brit focuses on taking out TM's leg after he apparently took an odd bump. Quick thinking! On top of that he drives the masked head of Sayama into the mat with some devastating moves. Very good match, ***1/2 area. vs. Dynamite Kid (01/28/82): The rematch of sorts. Kid really wants to get his mitts on the feline fan favorite. Lotsa clubbing blows, tosses to the floor, and chokes for good measure. Tiger wants to prove he's no fluke and out wrestles the lad with armbars, leg locks, and headscissors. Of course, Dynamite gets his chance and delivers a cervical vertebra crushing piledriver that looks to have TM beat. An extra exciting finishing segment caps off a great match. vs. Bret Hart (05/02/82): An interesting match as Bret is the most vanilla wrestler Tiger has faced thus far. But, in that regard, it makes everything TM does that more meaningful. Bret is so much larger and is working heel so, its a little bit different from what you might hope for. But, it worked because he really looked like his size and rough neck style was the answer for Tiger Mask. Good match vs. Baby Face (02/09/82): Now we get to see a more out an out cheating heel in Baby Face. Those fish hooks were great! A very mat based match with explosive rope running will get me every time. Here is no different! If this would have been longer, I would say it was a really great bout. But, as it is, I've gotta say its a peg down at Very Good. There's no shame in that though. I had a blast! vs. Blackman (03/12/82): Joined in Progress but, no matter...this is great! Excellent chemistry and I have to believe they have fought each other previously. I thought that this was going to be glorified squash filler or maybe clipped since Blackman is unknown to me and such an anachronistic gimmick. (Was it part of the TM Manga?) Glad I was wrong though! He really looked like TM's equal in terms of speed and agility. Only Gran Hamada is up there so, that's good company. Anyhow, check this one out! Its got an awesome organic finish that really seals the deal on a great bout. Tiger Mask/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Blackman/Karloff Lagarde (03/19/82): If you're interested in a high energy tag match where everyone is in constant motion, look no further! This is like the '83 version of a mid 2010's PWG tag match - double teams, comedy spots, and just go-go throughout. Just a bunch of fireworks (just in time for the Fourth of July too!). A heat segment and a more emphatic victory probably would have put this into great match territory. It's exciting stuff nonetheless! This set has really been full of surprises. I suppose that I really forgot that meat and potatoes grappling was the backbone of puro even for the burgeoning Junior division. I'm not well versed in 80's lucha as I've only dipped my toe in here and there but, I think the same focus on grappling was true there as well. Or maybe I've just been away from the early 80's wrestling tapes too long!? I forgot how much I really dig the style here. I also think there's a myth that only TM and Dynamite were capable of amazing things OR that Tiger's like a proto late stage Manami Toyota - all action but, little thought. Thus far, I've seen just the opposite. Just pleasantly surprised already. Thanks for reading! Please stay safe folks!
  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. Way too fun. This was about the best match you can possibly get out of two dudes as limited as Abby & Benkei. First Anjo and Tiger take turns laying into pudgy old sumowrestler Benkei before Abby comes in for the old stab & chop. Anjo ends up bloodied and playing a really good Ricky Morton for such a natural dipshit heel before coming back by beating the shit out of Abby and bloodying him in return. Undeterred by the potential Hep infection Tiger Mask comes in and beats the shit out of a bloody Abby aswell. Tiger can't really do highspots against these fat dudes so he just throws a bunch of kicks to the face and kneedrops and it's awesome. Abby trapping Anjo with his blob physique was a great spot too. Tiger Mask & Anjo looked super here and Abby selling and coming back with a last ditch throat chop was genuinely exciting stuff.
  6. Sayama and his fat man flips are great, no questions about it. Solar is really fired up and carried this, even though there wasn't as much matwork here as there needed to be. This would've been really good if Diablo & Azteca weren't so mediocre. Seriously these two have been working their own vanity promotion for years and can't have an exciting exchange to save their lives.
  7. This is one of my all time favorite feuds in puro. It probably won't get much attention nowadays but, that's time for ya! This isn't a definitive match list but, it covers most of the seminal puro program. These are my original reviews and star ratings when I was watching my DVDs as if the matches were weekly episodes. I've been in a wrestling rut lately so I hope this will get me out of it! Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Tiger Mask II (All Japan 3/9/88) ****1/2+ What an amazing little match. Misawa mainly keeps Jumbo contained with a side headlock for the majority of the middle portion. This would be risky nowadays but back then, it works. Wrestling is still the focus and the psychological direction is strong. Misawa can't trade blows or throws but he can contain Tsuruta & possibly score a quick pin. Jumbo won't be so easily wrangled and breaks the hold a few times. First, he is respectful by using the ropes. Next he, frustrated, peppers Tiger's ribs with short elbows. Finally, the champ shows the youngster who's boss & slings Misawa onto his back. From there, the match is wide open with a foreshadow of the action to come for AJPW in the 1990s. Fantastic! Tiger Mask and Toshiaki Kawada vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu and Ricky Fuyuki (All Japan 5/14/90) - Nothing really special move-wise but this is the match where Misawa decides that the gimmick & mask are holding him back. Jumbo, Kabuki & Fuchi vs. Misawa, Kobashi & Taue (All Japan 5/26/90) ***3/4 A good 6-man match but the real focus is on Fuchi & Jumbo putting the upstart team in their place. Kabuki to some extent too but Fuchi & Tsuruta are not impressed with the team of Misawa, Kobashi, & Taue...all look like Muppet Babies. It's wild. What's even more wild is that Misawa has the gall to elbow Jumbo off the apron (unprovoked) and that Kobashi isn't killed in the ring. Taue strangely supplies most of the action and is quite adroit in his execution. It really proves what a great tag-teamer & wrestler he is. He really lets Misawa/Kobashi work the story aspects by keeping the match going. This was a smart move on his part as early on it really was losing direction other than Jumbo is pissed. Still, the finishing portions were quite good, enough to build the excitement for the win. Suffice to say big old Jumbo is not pleased with the results. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (All Japan 6/8/90) ***** This is the epitome of a big match without doing anything "big." There were plenty of teases to finishers and all of that but, that's not where the match lay. It was a story of Misawa's speed & guile against Jumbo's brutish strength. Misawa's biggest attacks were his dives to the outside & his top rope moves. Tsuruta in contrast used his more pedestrian offense but with the weight & stiffness he is known for. Things such as stomps, axe handles, scoop slams were done with intensity that really few can rival. Just a fantastic athletic match that was really one of the best of all time. Tsuruta, Kabuki & Inoue vs. Misawa, Kawada & Kobashi (All Japan 7/12/90) **** A very exciting match in a small venue that teased and played off the new rivalry between the old guard and the young guns. Kawada even kept his feud of sorts with Kabuki going and putting his kicks over with the fans by knocking Kabuki out (legitimately?) & Kobashi showed that he could definitely hang with the top guys. We already knew that but, hey it's 1990 and he's not quite throwing the lariats & chops yet. Honestly, he's really interesting because his body of work is split in two distinct periods yet, both are really good. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Stan Hansen (All Japan 7/27/90) ***3/4 A simpler old style match that saw Misawa control Hansen for three-quarters of the time. He had his arm tied up in locks and would strike it with knees & elbows. In fact Misawa was as much a Heel as I've ever seen from him. He worked the arm over against the post and even a chair! Anytime Stan broke free though he really hit the crap out of his opponent. There were 3 or 4 really stiff shots that Misawa caught including a back elbow & from a chair. What's also pretty remarkable is how well Hansen sells the injured arm & really is on the short list for best seller. He does it so that he won't use the injured arm for really the entire match. It's a basic program that Hansen & Misawa worked in the next few years but, it's really smart & pretty great when executed by two intelligent & talented performers. Overall, this is an excellent start with 2 absolute classic matches & really fun six man outings. Pick a few, watch, and enjoy! Thank you for reading! Part 2 coming soon!
  8. This is my favourite Fujiwara/Super Tiger match. They work it with Fujiwara having the upper hand on the mat and Tiger being the dominant striker but the gaps aren't huge and both can hang and fire back in both departments. Fujiwara is awesome here, busting out awesome takedowns, countering Tiger's strikes, reversing his holds on the mat etc. but he also has all time great punches and just rocks Tiger with them when they're standing. There's a really great moment when Fujiwara starts choking Super Tiger with a Sleeper and Sayama sells it with this disgusting cough. Finishing stretch is just unreal with Sayama killing Fujiwara with brutal kicks seemingly forever and his knee drop is also up there with the best there have ever been. Fujiwara is the master at blocking kicks and reversing everything so you can buy he could come back at any time but Sayama just keeps on kicking him in the head and destroying him and it's this super dramatic struggle and then one time when Fujiwara finally gets a comeback in he gets cocky and throws a headbutt that knocks HIM down. That spot played up so many things, from Fujiwara's arrogance to the damage of Sayama's offence neutralizing a spot that I don't think had ever been neutralized before. And he just keeps on killing him and pretty much invents the shoot style KO/TKO finish in the process. FIVE STARS.
  9. Oh man did this rule... Its a WarGames style elimination match where a new entrant comes in every 2 minutes and anyone can get eliminated at any point in the match and eliminations can be done by getting thrown over the top rope. Finally we get the 2 top Crazy MAX guys with Michinoku Pros top heels and a decent lucha rudo. I really dug the stipulation and how the heels were able to keep the advantage and make the best out of it. I thought Pentagon and Pantera looked a bit lost at times, but it didnt drag the match that bit. TAKAs entrance was epic. It seemed he was a mysterious entrant and the crowd went nuts when the lights went out and his music hit. What hurt this for me was the eliminations near the finishing stretch seemed rushed. The wild brawl with everyone involved was great. I can see some disliking the way TAKA was built as Superman by kicking out of everything in the end, but considering the it seemed it was his return and he was built during his entrance, it made some sense to me. Really strong stuff. ****
  10. This was a fun match with everyone dishing out stiff shots and Anjoh making jokes. Takayama was wearing biker gloves for some reason, but other than that his exchanges with Anjoh and Tiger Mask were the highlight of the match. Tiger Mask works best against heavyweights because it adds some restraint to his work and Takayama forces him out of his usual spiel by not going along and making him actually hit the mat and work exchanges instead of just hitting his spots.
  11. This was really, really, really damn good. The match was mostly dominated by the veteran in Tiger Mask - he did a great job doing that. Volador got his highflying, high impact comebacks in & all of them were really enjoyable. ***3/4
  12. YUJI YASURAOKA OF THE DAY #1 This was a really fun junior's tag as you had guys flying around recklessly plus all the awkward painful violence that WAR entails. Problem with the match was obviously Lance Storm who is such a terrible wrestler. Half his stuff looked really out of place soft and he didn't have a clue about how to sell, or really add any substance to what he was doing beyond just executing one move after another. However, I'd say Sayama carried him okay with his shoot techniques (boy you are in trouble when Sayama has to carry things). Tiger Mask I is fat here and like Mil Mascaras meaning he is on offense whenever he is in, and really recklessly kicks the little dudes. No wonder Storm is such a pussy about working stiff, he probably still wakes up at night dreaming of fat Tiger Mask awkwardly spin kicking him in the liver. Mochizuki and Yasuraoka are really the best guys in the match as Mochizuki really really REALLY brings the nasty shots from all angles and positions including axe kicking Yuji in the face and Yasuraoka is maybe the only guy in the match who actually sells properly between the moves making everything a lot more meaningful when he is in there. Really dug his desperation lariat after almost crumbling and super fast double jumping dives. Also because this isn't Dragon Gate these guys aren't super polished so sometimes you get junior moves like a moonsault turned into a nasty backflip kneedrop. Super enjoyable match.
  13. Had to check this out because of the potential Suzuki vs. Shibata interactions, and I sure wasn't disappointed, because I got some awesome action between those 2! It looks like they might do a singles program between them, it sure felt like it w/ Suzuki constantly targeting Shibata & staring him down + attacking him post-match. I am hyped for that. The match was super fun - you got Liger as the FIP, and he was awesome, as you'd expect. Suzuki-gun did some solid heel work over him, ripping his mask & all - but the highlight of the match was indeed the Minoru Suzuki vs. Katsuyori Shibata sequence when they were both in the ring. Their interaction did not disappoint. Awesome match. ***1/2
  14. Kobayashi was always one of my favorite juniors and I’m reminded why watching this. He goes move for move with Tiger Mask and has an impressive variety of kicks at his disposal. This is better than the Dynamite Kid match, if only because you get the feeling watching those that fans are just waiting for the next big move. Here, the crowd even got into the submissions, chanting loudly for Tiger Mask when Kobayashi locked in the cross armbreaker. There is some sloppiness from Sayama here yet again, but he’s opposite a guy who seems to have the perfect understanding of how to work opposite him, so it doesn’t detract from the match as much as it does in some other cases. Kobayashi goes all rudo trying to unmask Sayama, which builds the heat in a big way. He even yanks Sayama from the ground by his mask at one point. The match ends when the referee can’t stop the mask ripping and I’m actually really looking forward to their January match. This was pretty great. ****1/4
  15. Paul Cooke recently wrote an article for the site entitled 'The Homogenization of Pro Wrestling', which brought up some interesting points that are pretty relevant to the kinds of discussions that take place on PWO. In particular, he questions whether the modern equivalents of Ultimo Guerrero, Tiger Mask, Gran Hamada, Guerrero, and Mysterio -- who merged styles and ways of working in certain respects -- have now become the norm as far as the global landscape is concerned. There is also a big question as to whether or not WWE's acquisition of talent and creative restrictions, to whatever extent, will and have caused a fading of one pro-wrestling's greatest assets -- its diversity as an art form. The article can be found here.
  16. This seems to be the night they pulled a rabbit out of their hat and delivered the best match of their series. TM was pretty sloppy at times and there were moments where it looked like Dynamite was about to die from a botched move. But overall, if I saw this match, I would almost believe the hype, more for Dynamite's performance than Sayama's. His timing and bumping was top notch. Nothing I'd go to bat for, but I thought it was excellent, warts and all. ***3/4
  17. I liked this match. Thought it was solid and well-executed, but probably nothing I'll remember too much. Bret looked very good in this, but everyone did to varying degrees. ***
  18. 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.
  19. This was interesting. Bret really was mechanically very good even this early, when he had yet to see his 25th birthday. But my biggest takeaway from this is, "Oh, so that's why so many wrestlers have long hair." The right hair and ring attire gives everything a bit more umph, and that's a lot of what's lacking here -- just that everything seems so small. Besides that, the match is technically well worked but on the bland side, although by the standards of 1982, it's pretty action-packed. I like Bret working as a power junior, with the biggest aspect of his game being hard strikes and a great suplex. The timing on the dropkick as Bret was running the ropes was fantastic, and I'll never complain about a butterfly suplex getting a win. Not really hugely memorable, but a good, enjoyable match. ***1/4