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Charles (Loss)

[1996-10-11-WAR-Osaka Crush Night] Ultimo Dragon vs Great Sasuke

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Really fun opening few minutes. Your run of the mill juniors match, which isn't a terrible thing in 1996. I do like the WAR crowd better than most NJ crowds though, as they seem more involved. A little more polished than the J*Crown match in August, and I think I like this one slightly better. There is more focus on pin attempts (backslides, rollups, cradles, etc) than offensive moves, and I always love fancy pin attempts.

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Sasuke seemed to get huge crowd support in whatever promotion he was fighting in. Heaven knows why the guy was so popular? I liked the opening 5m here as the matwork and standing moves were fast and fluid. After that it turned into your typical Sasuke fare. The Wrestle & Romance fans were red hot during the closing stretch. If you'd have just tuned into the final couple of minutes then you'd be left thinking it must have been a great match, rather than good tops.

 

It got me thinking back to when I first became a Puroresu fan, and how badly I'd have overrated a match like this. At the time they didn't used to have loads of 2.9 counts in the American wrestling that I'd grown up viewing (that sure changed). So when I started off watching Japanese matches the thing that got me most was all these great near falls they'd have down the stretch. It didn't even have to be a particularly good match, just give me a few near falls and I'd be marking out for them. Okay, so I became a lot more balanced in viewing matches start to finish, but part of me misses being so easy to please!

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Wait, I thought Sasuke was out of These Days because of the skull injury, but he's wrestling a singles match a night later? Okay, whatever. Good Lord, but this crowd is psychotic. Rey and Psic basically received polite applause but the audience is just losing their shit over this. It's a good match and of course Sasuke is making a brave comeback, but it was a little surprising to hear. I liked this well enough and I'm a guy who's way down on earlier Dragon and current Sasuke. I really liked Dragon dropping Sasuke on his head with a DDT to legitimate crowd heat--about damned time Asai learned some character work. This didn't wear out its welcome, either, which is often a big flaw with these type matches. Pretty good juniors match but the crowd is something else, and it elevates this to something a little more special.

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Good matwork to open the proceedings. Hell, they do refer to Sasuke cracking his skulls (which kinda shows in his work too) with a brutal brainbuster, followed by a not less brutal DDT. So, psychology, people ! Sasuke doing the insane kick from the top rope to the outside in his condition was all kind of Sasukesque. not going into the epic it could have been without the injury, but all things considered, this was really really good. That finish too. Gotta love when something looks like the finish, should be the finish, and ends up being the finish.

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Really enjoyed this match more than I thought I would and the crowd certainly helped. That being said, the progression was also well done from engaging feeling out process to a compelling and breakneck final stretch that really popped the crowd into a frenzy. Both of these guys have had a strong 1996 and Ultimo was really polished here. ****

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Man this is a bit of an unheralded juniors classic. Maybe not a classic, really, but exceptionally good. Even the matwork was a step above what you might expect from these two. The crowd makes it feel like just about the biggest juniors match ever and the action is amazing once it heats up. Crowd is super behind Sasuke and he pulls off some great near falls. Ultimo teases his powerbomb multiple times and it's makes for a great, emphatic finish. I actually wanted this one to keep going.

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J-Crown Champion The Great Sasuke vs Ultimo Dragon - WAR 10/11/96

 

The rematch from the J-Crown Tournament finale where Sasuke cracked open his skull literally. I always think because of the injury Sasuke loses that match, but nope he is the inaugural J-Crown champion. I liked this better than their first match. The opening chain wrestling is so 90s, but so good. I think growing up in the 90s there is a certain comfort to watching this style of ground work focused on single leg pick-ups and fancy reversals. They do the 'ol Ultimo Dragon headstand in the corner and a great tumbling sequence where both miss spinwheel kicks. These are two of the best at 90s workrate, so fluid. Dragon focuses on the arm. Short arm scissors! Love it! Sasuke powders. Dragon does a quebrada just to show off. That's great! Sasuke goes for the leg and gets a deep single leg crab. Dragon makes the ropes and says play time is over. Drop Sasuke on his injured head with a brainbuster and then with a DDT! Crowd is pissed. Crowd is wicked pro-Sasuke probably due to him making his return. Dragon goes for another brainbuster and Sasuke gets an armbar takedown. After this the match gets a little spotty. Dragon does his usual ropes routine. Sasuke dropkicks him into the post. Sasuke hits a missile dropkick, which I guess is safer than the dive he did where he fractured his skull. Quebrada for Sasuke gets two. Dragon hits a dropkick as Sasuke comes off the top. Top Rope Frankensteiner & Running Ligerbomb win it for Dragon. Did not overstay its welcome. I thought Sasuke could have gotten a bigger nearfall to really put it over. The beginning was excellent and the flying was damn good too. ***3/4

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