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Jetlag posted a topic in July 2002At 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.
God, sometimes I forget how good Nagata was before he became a gimmick wrestler. I’m sure making goofy faces, turning his eyes white and finding a couple of spots to recycle in every match made his life a lot easier, but I definitely don’t consider it as creatively interesting as his early 2000s work. This match isn’t without flaws-at one point you see Nagata do a wacky Release German Suplex before going for a lame leg hook pin, and on the “is this something Inoki would do” scale this gets a stern no. He’d either hit a perfect bridge on that damn Suplex or work the (not huge but still ostensibly present) size difference into the match and opting for a Cradle pin or a Takedown instead. But, the roughness is what gives this match its charm, and Inokiism bring a wonderful pastiche of wacky pro wrestling and MMA really unique to wrestling history, even compared to other “shooty” styles. Yasuda is a former rikishi and thus has an advantage in the clinch, they are about evenly matched on the ground but Nagata possesses a wider array of joint locks Yasuda is just a brute who’s going to put his forearm in Nagata’s throat and go for simple chokes. This dichotomy is present on their feet too although there Nagata’s finesse in kicking techniques helps him prevail over Yasuda’s roughhouseness. Whether you call it genius wrestling storytelling or a simple dedication to identities of wrestling characters-it’s really cool to see Nagata throw lame forearms and get punched out for all he’s good only to realise his only solution is to revere back to his kicking, it’s such a breath of frash air to see something like struggle over underhooks and overhooks and Yasuda blocking Nagata’s Belly To Belly by grabbing his hooks and just steamrolling him into the corner. You get Nagata preying on in an S mount, PRIDE-esque grounded knees and Tiger Drivers and a wacky Indian Deathlock/Figure 4/whatever Nagata Lock I is supposed to be and the internal logic of the match remains consistent, because they are merely (a very visually pleasing, which is very important in a performance art!) substance, the form is what drives this to excellence. ****1/4
Jetlag posted a topic in August 1998Surprisingly good tag action here. This was really solid and moved logically from one section to another. Nishimura & Yamazaki outskilling their opponents was a ton of fun. I don't think anyone has ever praised Yasuda, but he was perfectly good here as your big sumo guy who will stomp you. Also, reminder that Iizuka was once a perfectly capable grappler. Really liked the finish and the Dome crowd got into Yasuda big time.