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  1. 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...
  2. G. Badger

    Spotlight: Starrcade

    I was never what you would call a WCW fan growing up. I liked seeing the matches on Saturday or Sunday but, I never went out of my way to watch Nitro until the Monday Night Wars stuff. It was WCW that grabbed my attention first with Goldberg and his streak. Plus my older cousin thought he was cool and therefore I did too Quickly, I found out that I preferred WWF to WCW in most instances and then ECW came in the picture and I never looked back really. So, with that being said, I never gave a thought to WCW's pay-per-views and although the titles were cooler than WWF's the cards usually sucked. So, here I am all of these years later willing to call bullshit on myself and check out the best of the best PPV that WCW had to offer - Starrcade. The saving grace of this project is that many of the matches on this list (this is the Starrcade Essential Collection set by WWE) are from Jim Crockett Promotions and/or in the early days of WCW. Half are from the 80's and 5 more are between 1990-1993. Anyhow there's 25 matches and I'm going run down (or up?) the list to see just how essential these matches are. I might give impressions for some, others I might have a review, and even more I might have written something up in the match discussion archives. Let's start Roddy Piper vs Hollywood Hogan (1996): Good match with good action that tells the Match of the Decade story well. Intense too which was a big surprise considering Hogan was in the ring...I mean honest-looking intensity and not that hammy crappola. Sting vs Great Muta (1989): Iron Man tournament match which I saw a few months ago during my Great Muta You Might Have Missed post ( https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/blogs/entry/685-great-muta-you-might-have-missed/). Shit that was almost a year ago!? Anyhow, an under 10 minute banger with Sting and Muta at the height of blending simple wrestling with a fast pace and a few flashy moves. I liked this quite a bit. I'll say a very good match. Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (1992): Awesome action packed title match. This Starrcade thing doesn't seem that bad! This also featured Pillman and Douglas ushering a crash-bang style that we would we would see in ECW and the Attitude era. Not that they invented it or anything but, its in contrast to Windham and Ricky's style here. Great match! Goldberg vs Kevin Nash (1998): The match that ended THE STREAK and perhaps was an early sign of things to come. Goldberg and Nash actually wrestle a good match up until the hi-jinks and Hall electrocutes Goldberg. Battlebowl (1991): I don't like Battle Royals. So, I'll make a couple suggestions. Fast forward to when Ricky Morton & Liger are wrestling each other. Then fast forward to when Luger and Vader are in ring #1 by themselves (yes there are two rings). Then fast forward to when it boils down to Steamboat and Sting vs Austin and Rude (Luger is in waiting so to speak). Then watch the rest of the match and you might call this good. This rated higher than the 1992 tag match? horse shit! Dustin Rhodes vs Steve Austin (1993): Starts of pretty good and just sorta ends. I had high hopes for this but, uh yeah it's very much what I expect out of WCW. The last 3 matches don't seem very "essential" to me. I talk more about it in the 1993 match discussion yearbook. I really don't want to do that again here...if that gives you an idea. Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): Oh crap the Road Warriors...this is not looking good..let's see. Oh man am I wrong! Maybe it's Arn and Tully but, this is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. We see a brains & brawn story unfold despite their early domination, Hawk & Animal don't seem invincible. There are some hi-jinks but, it is pandemonium so it works. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match...hells yeah! Rey Misterio vs Jushin Liger (1996): Oh Rey vs Liger '96, this should be an easy great match! Nope! It's neat but, just felt clunky and the commentary team bury them. This is a great example of how WCW was out of step with where wrestling was headed. It was a fun exhibition match though. Rock 'n Roll Express vs Midnight Express (1987): I wish they could have put another type of match on here with these teams. It was high risk and whatnot but, is really a novelty that doesn't really show what these guys do best. Nevertheless it was one of the best scaffold matches I've seen. I've seen like 4 so...maybe that's not a recommendation. Sorta goes into the realm of Battle Royal matches to me. Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): Here we have our first classic match of the set! I never would have thought it'd come from Luger. Simple but effective stuff! GO SEE THIS!! 1988 Everything else folder has more gushing if you need it. Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani (1995): I've seen this match twice and liked it better the 2nd time. Its what the Rey vs Liger match needed to be. Skip that one and watch Otani and Eddie go! Again, I beat a dead horse in the 1995 December yearbook if you want to see that Very good match. Not sure why this is "ahead" of Flair/Luger '88 at all though...gotta give something to Eddie I suppose. Dusty Rhodes & Sting vs Road Warriors (1988): Hmm can't seem to find my notes on this one...I remember it being good with Sting doing his thing. It was not as good as the Tully/Arn match I can tell you that much. I think it was meant to get Sting over since I really don't remember Dusty or the Warriors doing much but a good match and letting Sting shine. Sting vs Vader (1992): People have called this a classic match but, I disagree. Its great but, not a classic. There are a few too many flaws that screw with my suspension of disbelief to put it in that **** 1/2+ class. Selling and the finish being the two biggest complaints. Nevertheless, it is Sting vs Vader - Go watch it for yourself and then head over to the 1992 December archives and see where your opinion falls. Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling! Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair (1985): An entertaining match that was kept even keel for some reason. This lacked the charisma and excitement I expected. It felt very average. Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko (1997): Again, I can't find any notes on this one. From memory it started off well but, I don't think it really set the world on fire. Probably very much like the Dusty/Flair match above. They had to give a nod to the feud I suppose so, here it is... Road Warriors vs Steiner Brothers (1989): Everyone was selling and bumping. There were no miscues or blown spots. They did their power moves and throws. What more can you ask really!!? It was a dream match as your gonna get. I thought it was very good and should be in both teams highlight reels. Certainly so for the Steiners as I thought the quality and style was right around what they would be doing in NJPW in the 90's. Ladder Match (2000): This is the 3 way ladder match that was really a harbinger of early 2000's indy 'let's try anything' wrestling. It sucks that Jamie Noble and Kaz Hiyashi (who I like) are in this thing. Its also on the first WWE Ladder Match DVD set so, I skipped this. Sting vs Ric Flair (1989): I believe this is the Finals of the 1989 Iron Man tourney. Terry Funk and Jim Ross are on commentary (yes!). This was a great match featuring athletic, charismatic wrestling as you'd hope for. Both guys really put on an action filled match despite the previous bouts and you gotta give it to them for that alone. From what I've seen here and above 1989 looked sweet. Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): And if '89 looked sweet then '83 was sweeter. Oh man, we get the legendary Dog Collar match between Piper and Valentine and it does not disappoint. It was a madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match. Road Warriors vs Midnight Express (1986): Another scaffold match. This was remarkably dangerous and Cornette takes a bump off the scaffold (dangling) that seriously injures him. Watch it on fast forward perhaps. Again, these really aren't my thing :/ Sting vs Hogan (1997): Sting's entrance gave me goosebumps. Make no mistake though this is late 90's WCW and they have to fucking slip in some interference in every big match just for the hell of it. Its like having a nice meal at a restaurant and right before you finish, the waiter comes over and drops a fly in it. Like "Why man? Why?" It was a good match even though they dropped a fly in it. For nostalgia sake, watch this big moment in wrestling. I never saw it before and I'm glad I did. Hogan may actually out wrestle Sting too! Ric Flair vs Harley Race (1983): Steel cage NWA world title match. I watched this a couple times in a week about 7 years back and recall it being very good. It was nice and stiff but, a little to methodical if memory serves me correct. I think it was kinda long too...could be wrong. Maybe it just felt long?? I decided to pass but, this is a big time match up so, if you're curious check it out. Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This I Quit match was the #1 reason that I spent the $5 at the used DVD/game store for this DVD set. This was violent from the very start...they looked like they wanted to maim each other. I believed it man. I mean Magnum was digging his fingers into Tully's arm trying to pull Tully's wound apart and he's the babyface!! They had to switch cameras that it was so nasty. Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match. If you gotta buy this DVD, do it. It's worth the dough. Vader vs Ric Flair (1993): This was Vader's title against Flair's career. I bet you know who wins This was deemed the greatest Starrcade match of all time by someone(s) at WWE. That's arguable but, I understand why they put this over Tully and Magnum. Flair. And it is a great match. It is not without its detractors and I am one of them. I watched this twice in 2 days and my take away is this- it is too slow at the start. Vader wants to pick apart and torture Flair rather than just pin him. I get this but, it is at a turtle's pace. Flair should have had a couple pin attempts in there to show that he had fight rather than getting pummeled. It does get good once Flair makes his successful come-back. However, the pacing and finish are all off to me. The finish required Vader to sell the leg being hurt but, he didn't at all/forgot/etc. so, it seemed like an odd fluke win. Maybe that's what they were going for but, it was clumbsily executed on Vader's part (understandable). But that's a small quibble next to the drawn out first half of the match where Vader beat Flair like a rented mule. Some of the appeal had to be thinking that Flair was going to lose...but, in 2019 that magic has worn away. So, I would say this set was hit or miss with more hits in the end. Ranking the hits Honorable Mention: Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani (1995) 10) Sting vs Great Muta (1989) 9) Road Warriors vs Steiner Brothers (1989) 8) Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (1992) 7) Sting vs Vader (1992) 6) Sting vs Ric Flair (1989) 5) Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983) 4) Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987) 3) Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988) 2) Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983) 1) Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985) I'm very glad that I shelled out the 5 bucks for 10 awesome matches. I feel like Race vs Flair should also be an honorable mention as well. So 12 out of 25 matches that are totally worth checking out...not bad. I'm not sure what that says about WCW or maybe it says more about WWE, I suppose. I'd probably thing the latter is the culprit. They probably could have loaded this with great stuff from 83-89 and I would have been pleased as punch. Heck, Starrcade 83-93 would have been more than acceptable. Thanks for reading! At the very least watch the top 3 matches above! I'm so glad that I did. Until next time...
  3. Two big guys maul each other for 5 minutes. Primitive match, but I prefer them doing this over some drawn out 10 minute affair. Morishima looked like he could've been great if he had worked more Otto Wanz style matches. He certainly looked up there slugging it out with Vader in the corner.
  4. G. Badger

    Thank you Vader!

    So, Leon White has passed away. I am very bummed out because, not only was he a great wrestler but, he seemed like a great guy especially in the world of pro wrestling. I know there will be better tributes and stories than what I could piece together so, I just want to say 'Thanks!' What's sorta uncanny (to me) is that I had the notion of posting about my favorite Vader in Japan matches just a day ago. Well, I'd like to do that now. I'm not overly sentimental and am not using his passing as a way for folks to read my blog...I clearly get no profit Instead, I'd like to celebrate his work in wrestling. Do yourself a favor and watch one of these and powerbomb someone in memory of Mr. White! Big Van Vader vs. IWGP Champion Tatsumi Fujinami (13:27, 6/26/88) *** A pretty enjoyable squash type match as Vader threw Fujinami around like a doll. The bummer is that Vader isn't quite stiff yet and Fujinami airballed on a couple moves but he sells the damage well and Vader already shows use of psychology by slaughtering The Dragon's back. The end is cool but not really believable considering the damage done...Re-Watch: I'd have to say I've change my mind about this match. I think it's really, really good. Near great even! The psychology is really sound with Vader trying to dismantle Fujinami while the Dragon tries guile & quickness to slay the mythical monster of Vader. Maybe it's because I got done reading an article on Lovecraft but I saw Big Van Vader especially with the head-piece as a Cthulu-type creature. As stated below, you've got to understand that NJ is like more action based American wrestling akin to what Cactus Jack & Sting did in their '92 WCW PPV match perhaps. If you're cool that it's not '92 AJPW then, damn is this a fun & dramatic match. It also didn't hurt that I've seen more Fujinami & know why this match worked. Big Van Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto for the vacant IWGP Title (9:47, 4/24/89) ***1/2 I liked this match but it was too short...although that may have been by accident. Lou Thesz was the ref & he hesitated on the 3 count indicating that maybe the match ended unexpectedly. Here was a very good match cut short. Both guys were stiff & Hashimoto was looking to snap Vader's arm. I wish it would have been a few minutes longer. Re-Watch: I've watched this a couple times a year or more after my initial review & really nothing changes. I really wish it would've gone a couple more minutes with Hash getting some more kicks in on Vader or running a sequence or two to spice up the ending. Big Van Vader vs. IWGP champion Riki Choshu (10:04, 8/10/89) **** It seems Riki only brings it when he has to because he wrestled like the Riki Choshu that has multiple 4 star and 5 star matches to his name. This match is stiff and well paced for 10 minutes with the stand-out being a Riki Lariat that knocks Vader backwards over the guardrail. If this went a bit longer it was bound to get better. Still the best match so far & it really shows how great Vader is for such a massive guy. Re-Watch: Yeah this is pretty good considering how limited each guy is both in what they can take & what offense they bring (size, agility). And by pretty good I mean quite enjoyable. One needs to think of NJ in this time period with a certain level of wrestlers as WCW Japan, if that makes sense. If this were on American TV, I'd watch every G-D week without a doubt. This match is good proof. It's not Jumbo vs. Tenryu though. Still it's rough & tumble and very fun stuff. Excellent pick for a Vader compilation! Big Van Vader vs. IWGP Champion Tatsumi Fujinami (12:57, 1/17/91)***3/4 Dammit Fujinami if you're going to do a enzuigiri try to make contact! Like their first meeting, he's small enough for Vader to throw and splash him...and you know it's wearing him down. Vader bled here which was cool and when the Dragon was punching and it was believable. There was some heat & once again Vader performs on par with a guy 100 lbs lighter & with a decade more experience. Re-watch: Wow! My opinion has really shifted on these matches. I thought this was an awesome match with only a moment of weakness. The moment is that enzuigiri but on re-watch & the context of the match, it was a gamengiri meant to hit Vader in the face or above the eye...as to put over the blade job...or that's what I think! Just a stupendous match showing each guy's versitility. Fujinami is a great wrestler but here we get to see that Vader is too. He's not just the greatest super-heavy weight (I haven't seen much prime Andre) but one of the greatest of all time. ****1/4 but I could go higher. Here's an odd one but, I liked it! Big Van Vader vs. Tony Halme (1991) ***1/4 This match was a pleasant surprise as it's really want I want to see in a Vader match: both guys slugging the crap out of one another. And I mean stiffly slugging one another. Of course Halme, being a pro boxer went half power, he was stiff on the body shots and made the head punches believable due to Vader's superior selling. A thouroughly enjoyable worked shoot especially since Vader lost! (I hope I'm not spoiling anything!) Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Vader 03/01/92: People say this match isnt very good but, shit! I thought it was fantastic. The timing and near finishes were just awesome. You knew the hope spots were going to be there but, wow! This was just an awesome match that should be on every one of these guys Best Of comps. The stand-outs were Hase and Vader. The segments they had were just great stuff and very stiff. Vader was just punishing throughout and Bigelow and Mutoh were the charismatic ones who put the flashy bits in. Everything was hitting just right. Like I said maybe this is a case of low expectations and being surprised but I really enjoyed this. ****1/2 Vader vs. Antonio Inoki (14:16, 1/4/96)****1/2 What a physical match-up! 600 lb. cherry-cheeked Vader versus a withered-up Japanese government employee. I'm surprised Inoki wasn't killed then re-animated and then killed again because it sure as bloody hell looked like it. Man got dumped on his dome two times that would make Tiger Mask II's tail spin 'round. Then he made a good comeback & slapped on the ju-ju-got-to-me armbreaker and got the victory. Although by the looks of it, he should've kept his shoulders down after the first swell of punishment. Vader & Tony put on a monster truck show & Inoki played the part of 'Gravedigger.' Vader & Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (Real World Tag League '98 Final)***1/2 Ha! Akiyama got beat-up here and Kobashi got worked over pretty well too. Hansen wasn't movin' too well but the Gaijin team was stiff. How's that face doin' Akiyama? Re-Watch (2015): Im going to mosey on down a shakey tree branch and say that this was a great match. Maybe its hued by the early 90s lucha libre and 88 Hansen that Ive been gluing mine eyes to but, this was fantastic stuff. Everyone was going at their 98 best. It was stiff, fast and full of teases and pay-offs. Ironically the lucha has got me really excited on the pay-offs. I guess that shouldnt surprise me too much, what with the wide-spread bribery down there! Get it? Pay-off? Bribery?...Any how this was just a real exciting match. I think at this point in AJ history we have to look at Kobashi as the ace regardless of what Misawa and Kawada are doing. This style of match really takes us right back to the late 80s Native Japanese versus the built like Frigidaire Gaijin Hansen/Gordy vs. Tenryu/Kawada Tag League 88 sound familiar? Great Match Vader vs. Kenta Kobashi (1/15/99) (16:59) **** Pretty nice singles match that was very physical for both guys. Kobashi was taking hits & gettin' splashed on while Vader isn't used to getting hit & slammed too much let alone movin' for 17 minutes! Can anyone beat Super Vader? Even Misawa? Vader vs. Triple Crown Champion Mitsuhara Misawa (10/30/99) (12:12) ***3/4 Vader was very brutal with his slams here. Misawa tried fighting back with very stiff elbows and dives. It just wasn't enough & I think it ended early. Vader did a reprisal of his role versus Inoki. Vader & Steve Williams vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori (2/12/00) (8:02) ***1/2 Hard hitting mid-card style slug fest. The gaijins dominated and double teamed. This was an all fun match and made everyone look good. Vader vs. Toshiaki Kawada (2/17/00) (13:44) ****1/4+ This is how it's done! Kawada even used Vader's own fore-arm clubs and used his kicks tactfully. It was just a smart match that peaked at the best time and one of Vader's best. Both knew the limitations and they excelled. Just as in all of Vader's best bouts. Re-Watch: A really stiff slug-out. It was kind of what I wanted in Vader's 1990 match against Hansen. Really awesome stuff & both guys sold the stuff very well. Geez...it's probably not that hard to do considering the blows being dealt. Kawada showed himself superior to his peers by getting so much out of Vader and structuring the match so it told a believable yet suspenseful story. Vader isn't a slouch but because of his size it's up to his opponent create the tension & drama. Having a match with him is like going up against a steam shovel, so what are you going to do to make it something special? Misawa & Kobashi do fine, Taue fails but, Kawada truly excels. Vader & Steve Williams vs. AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (2/20/00) (25:14)****1/4 A very solid tag team title match. Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. Another fun tag match & really the place where Vader & Dr. Death (at this point in his career) shines. Misawa & Ogawa vs. Vader & Scorpio (11/30/01) Full match here showing that NOAH could be a different product even if that product is 80s AJPW!! Really fun stuff in a more American style. Good to see Scorpio as he really is the heart of this match. Apologies for inconsistency but, ya get the point I'd also recommend Vader in UWFi and Leon White vs Stan Hansen AWA from ESPN. One of the sweetest rookie vs champ matches. YouTube dat! Thank you for all your hard work and passion Mr. Vader, sir! RIP Mr. White