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[1993-05-03-NJPW-Fukuoka Dome] Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Hiroshi Hase

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Meet Hiroshi Hase, the smilingest wrestler ever. No wonder he went into politics. This is really hot and cold for me -- great moments and dull moments. Uneven overall. The match kicks into high gear when Hase starts throwing the rapid strikes. The finish was kind of abrupt and I think Hase submitted a little too soon, but they did put over the move pretty strong. The match was well-worked, but didn't have much drama.

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This was great. The mat wrestling was great and the intensity built in a logical way. Hase's big spots and appeals to the crowd fit in here really well and I'm a sucker for the little amateur stuff he busted out early on. The sequence with them fighting over positioning on the apron was great and really felt like it could go either way which made it a great transition. I usually think of Fujiwara as someone with great selling but I don't usually think of him as a big bumper but his bump to the floor looked good and the nasty looking uranages were really memorable.

 

The version I saw was a fan cam. Is that the same version on the set?

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I talked about this on WKO earlier in the year and my thoughts aren't much different:

 

I've got a weird thing with handhelds sometimes. If this did indeed air on TV, I'd probably like it even more if I watched the televised version . That said, this was boss. Opening matwork was really good and smokes all of the other New Japan matwork that I had recently been watching from the '90-'93 period. Fujiwara's headbutts and subsequent taunting has been mentioned, but I'll go ahead and add my name to the list of people that loved it, anyway. Fujiwara really fucking ate those uranages; the first one kind of caught me off guard, then he went and took another one on his neck just for the fuck of it. Is this one of the all-time great Fujiwara flash finishes? The way he just grabbed Hase's arm clean out the air was spectacular. I mean, there's a shit ton of great Fujiwara flash finishes, but if you can judge it on the "lean on rewind" scale, this really had me leaning on rewind.

 

I obviously first watched it as a handheld, and sure enough I liked the TV version even more.

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An interesting one here as these are two of the wierdest dudes in puroresu. Would you buy a car from either of these men? :o

 

Fujiwara is always really sleazy and Hase looked crazier than ever here. It was a bit unsettling but strangely compelling. Hardly any structure to the match and they probably didn't plan anything out beforehand. They just did some fun grappling and mat exchanges which was entertaining enough.

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When it to the point where Hase was throwing those suplexes and then smiling about it, I was begging for Fujiwara to submit. So when that actually ended up being the finish I was cheering for it. It did seem like Hase submitted early because the referee's position blocked his path to the ropes.

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Yeah, Hase was only halfway into the hold and then tapped (or the referee just called for the bell). Two abrupt finishes in two matches.

 

Before that, this was really good, and more or less lived up to its promise--I think this is my first time seeing Hase work against the shootstyle guys and he's naturally a great fit. But we get a few Hase trademarks like the giant swing, before he does an inexplicable Ultimate Warrior rope-shake and gets a big grin on his face. Fujiwara attempts to top him by doing a great little celebratory jog when he levels him with his headbutts.

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We get some nice slaps from Fujiwara early before it settles into some solid action on the mat with both trying for submissions and body control. Things pick up with some vicious Fujiwara headbutts that he's just loving, while Hase pulls out a giant swing and uranage as his personality starts to show. Heelish, snap on a dime bully Hiroshi Hase is probably my favorite Hase. The only thing holding this back from being great as that abrupt finish, which just didn't fit at all and seemed premature. Best thing from this show that we saw though, and worked well following Sting/Norton as something completely different.

 

***1/4

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I wanted a bit more here but can see Fujiwara disciples loving this. Hase has had a weird decade overall having some great matches and yet he seems forgotten all the same. The amateur touches worked in here were my favorite parts of the match but the ending came way too quickly for my liking. ***1/4

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I didn't really care for this. It was too slow, too disjointed, and they seemed like they didn't know if they wanted Hase to try and take on Fujiwara shoot-style or Fujiwara to try to wrestle Hase pro-style. They ended up doing too much of both and not enough of either, if that makes any sense.

 

As almost everyone else has said, Fujiwara's headbutts looked great, and the suddenness of the finish elevated this a few degrees in my eyes, from unsatisfactory to just barely decent.

 

Fujiwara seemed ganuinely pleased to be back in a pro-style promotion and touched by the reaction he got from the New Japan crowd. Now that he's beaten Hase, I wouldn't mind seeing him against the likes of Tenryu and/or Choshu.

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I'm surprised how polarised people are on this. Personally I really enjoyed it, although I watched the commercial version of the show. Without the closeup detail, I suspect this match isn't nearly as good on handheld.

 

I liked the slick but realistic mat work early on, I liked how it built to something more agressive and I loved the opposites of their characters. Hase is there smiling constantly while Fujiwara just looks brilliantly cynical. The look on his face after he floors Hase in the corner with an open-hand slap is tremendous. I really didn't mind the quick finish. It fit the match and was decisive, not really comparable with the Sting Norton match previous.

 

It's not a perfect match but seemed to work for me a lot better than it did for others. ****

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