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  1. 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!
  2. C.S.

    Gorilla Monsoon

    This post is somewhat inspired by the recent Cageside Seats Evaluation piece. For years Dave Meltzer has called Gorilla Monsoon one of the worst commentators in the business. I believe he was even voted as such by the WON readers on a few occasions. But I think we all realize Meltzer sets the tone for those votes and significantly influences them - whether he realizes it or not, means to or not. Needless to say, a lot of people disagree with Meltzer. In fact, it seems to me that most wrestling fans online (and off) have nothing but fond memories of Gorilla Monsoon. Meltz seems to think his word is irrefutable gospel when it comes to this stuff - he even criticized Bret Hart for considering Ed Whalen the best of all time "because that's what he grew up with" - so I guess no one is allowed to have a different opinion in Meltzer's mind. Some of Gorilla's positive attributes: Amazing chemistry and witty banter with Jesse "The Body" Ventura and especially Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. His vocabulary. Just awesome. He made wrestling feel smart (even if some of the words or phrases he used were probably pulled out of his ass). Gave wrestling more of a sports-like feel ("He didn't hook the leg!"), which made everything seem more important. I think Meltz once said that some wrestlers complained about stuff like "didn't hook the leg" and felt they were being undermined by Monsoon's commentary. Well, fuck them. Jim Ross loves him and called him his early WWE mentor. With J.R. being one of the best of all time, that's pretty high praise. Plus, J.R. is "A Grouchy Hateful Vile Human Being" (lol), so getting a compliment from him means a lot. , of course. In Meltzer's defense, when I first heard Jim Ross in WCW, it blew me away. The presentation was completely different - more serious and even more sports-like than Gorilla - but I chalk that up to stylistic differences between the two feds at the time. The WWF was more about the pomp, circumstance, and pageantry - and that was reflected in the commentary of Gorilla, Vince McMahon, and others. The NWA/WCW was a completely different beast - and that too was reflected by J.R., Tony Schiavone, etc. Case-in-point: J.R. in the WWF was completely different from Jim Ross in WCW/NWA. When it comes right down to it, Gorilla did a perfect job for the type of product he was covering. Meltzer's issues with him was really a reflection of his larger issue with the WWF at the time (IMO). Too many others - myself included - loved Gorilla and have fond memories of him. Could part of that be childhood nostalgia, as Meltz accused Bret of feeling for Ed Whalen? Sure. But that's too easy, cheap, and lazy to be a credible dismissal in my mind. Bret understands wrestling more than most. As for Gorilla, even if 100% of his fans only love him for nostalgic reasons ("highly unlikely"), that still means his approach worked for audiences at the time. He did his job and did it well. Compared to the annoying, screechy, shrill style of commentary in today's WWE, I think we'd all give anything to go back to the days of Gorilla Monsoon. Note: I've only touched on Gorilla Monsoon the commentator. He had an extensive in-ring career before this, but I haven't seen any of his matches. If you want to add that aspect of his career to the discussion too, please do.
  3. Bret takes an early modified version of his sternum bump off a catapult, which is pretty cool. I like Bret more as a heel. The way he carries himself lends itself to a stalling heel persona in a big way. And the way he delivers his offense with that signature arrogance screams heel to me. Dynamite sells the FIP better than I expected and makes a good comeback to get the crowd rolling. One thing I like about 80s Bret matches is that a roll-up, any roll-up late, is a big threat to end the match. Bret and Anvil 2 on 1 Dynamite post-match until Bulldog makes the save in very Bulldog fashion. Good match that seems like a test for both as singles guys.
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