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[1990-02-10-NJPW vs AJPW] Larry Zbyszko vs Masa Saito

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Zbyszko looks really good here, keeping his movements big and basic in front of this large crowd. I really love the matwork they pull off in the early stages of this and how Saito is able to get the crowd so solidly behind him while he has Larry tied up like a pretzel. Zbyszko heels it big time with a low blow on Saito right after he's pumped up the crowd in such a big way. The nearfalls in this are really good. Short match, but not a wasted moment.

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Yeah, this was fucking AWESOME--maybe even the second-best MOTY to this point behind Liger/Sano. How was this match completely slept upon (to my knowledge) until now? Zbyszko kicking out of *two* Saito suplexes and then getting in another run of offense of his own gave this a downright AJPW feel. The very closing stretch had that feel too, with one suplex not putting him away but the second being enough. Also I can't say enough about Saito's little running-man dances to pump the crowd up. Worth watching just to see Saito working as a gladhanding babyface but the match holds up, too.

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Fun match with both guys really knowing how to rile up the crowd and get them invested. Zbysko's timing of the low blow was magically done and Saito getting the crowd behind him was really fun. I have not seen the Saito AWA stuff yet but of what I have seen of him this was my favorite match of his.

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Cool discovery. This was not just a neat toss-off between two guys who have gained esteem in our little circle. It was an excellent match that built from nicely contested matwork all the way through some great near falls at the end. I loved Saito's expressiveness as a babyface, which really seemed to pull the crowd into the match. Then I got even more fired up by Zbyszko's series of punches near the end. Loss called this a short match, but it actually felt longer and more epic than I expected. Those who grew to love Saito on the NJ and AWA sets should seek this out.

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I am glad to know this got a favorable response from you. I kept this in full on the yearbook because both guys have been re-evaluated and looked favorably upon recently.

Saito getting "reevaluated" recently to "favorable"? I'm guessing that I missed the period when people thought Saito sucked? :)

 

John

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I am glad to know this got a favorable response from you. I kept this in full on the yearbook because both guys have been re-evaluated and looked favorably upon recently.

Saito getting "reevaluated" recently to "favorable"? I'm guessing that I missed the period when people thought Saito sucked? :)

 

John

 

There were many of us who weren't around in the 80s/90s tape trading scene like you were. When we put together the 80s NJ set, Saito was a genuine discovery as a great worker. The AWA set only re-affirmed that. It isn't a move towards favorable. It's a move to fucking badass.

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Crowd was really quiet early on the Larry could be clearly heard through the match. Felt this was going to be a flat match but they manage to turn this into a good match. Larry goes all heel with the low blow that the fans don't like. They really had me on some of the later small package pinfall attempts. Nice moment for Saito.

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Good, borderline great match. Zbyszko doesn't do much on offense, but like Loss said, there isn't any wasted movement either. He has almost a Jimmy Connors thing going with all the screaming and yelling he is doung, both on offense and while he is selling. Saito as a babyface is interesting, and he does a great job getting the crowd behind him. Maybe the last truly great AWA World title match? At the very least, probably the last time the title was really relevant anyway.

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I really dug this match. Some wonderful classic wrestling matwork here which is refreshing to see considering today's trend of doing MMA style matwork. Crowd was really into this as well and Zybyszko did a good job of hitting a low blow, which isn't done too often in Japan. Nicely worked match here and one I would probably view again.

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The first thing you notice is that Larry doesnt do The Stall that would send the Meltzers and Scott Keiths of the world into apoplectic seizures of hate. Zbyszko knows this isnt a fieldhouse in Ladysmith, Wisconsin or some such shit. This is the Tokyo Dome and he brings it. I love the fact that Zbyszko is now looked favorably upon, proving that the wrestling critics are worth less than zero.

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Saito looks so fucking cool and hard as this starts. You do not want to mess with that man.

 

This crowd is red hot. Saito is just awesome here firing them up. Man, it's amazing to see this after seeing him stooge for Hogan.

 

Very All-Japanish this match, which is no bad thing. Saito absolutely nails those suplexes. Massive offense.

 

Tremendous feeling of this match seeing him get a moment in the sun like this. He basically works this as if he's Hulk Hogan.

 

Perhaps he kills Larry a bit too much for this to be a truly great match, but it was very very enjoyable. This wasn't all Saito either though, Zybysko was pretty good here too.

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You aren't the only one to see Hogan in Saito's performance, Parv. But it works here. Larry has the crowd against him, he's in a foreign country, and he's facing a guy who's in good a shape as he can possibly be in for this, the biggest match of his life. This is probably what Saito dreamed about if he had wrestling dreams while in prison, and nothing's going to stop him on this night. Larry does just enough to avoid getting totally squashed, with the low blow being his centerpiece.

 

Saito works the crowd into a frenzy all through the bout, and the ovation he gets at the end is reminiscent of Hogan's pop when he beat the Sheik, if not quite as loud. Unfortunately, Saito wouldn't get almost four years with the title; he wouldn't even get two months, as Larry would win it back on April 8 in St. Paul.

 

Not quite deserving of a spot on my unofficial ballot due to its one-sided nature, but well worth seeing.

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I lost it after Zybysko's low blow, great, great timing. This is right up my alley. A midcard match with solid mat work, some heavy slams, and some striking. Saito looks like the man here, and finally is able to put Zybysko down after a total of 3 backdrop suplexes. Zybysko was really good here, and knew his role well and took a lot of offense and looked great doing it.

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I loved this match. Saito was fantastic! Really showed how great he could be firing up and throwing out some cool offense. Really fun stuff here from both guys.

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Looking back on my deep dive into 1990, this match really stood out to me. Prior to watching this, I had just taken a really deep dive into 80's AWA, so Saito was fresh on the mind. I thought he was really great at firing up in this match, and that Larry Z played his role perfectly. There isn't a full version of this online (currently), but I decided to watch the clipped version this time to get a different perspective with Larry Z on commentary. This comes in after the opening matwork and Larry Z proclaims he's been throwing Saito around like a sack of garbage. Saito is on the offense with some kicks to the lower leg of Larry, and we get the ball rolling with the low blow from Larry Z. You still get the awesomeness of the Saito hulk up after a failed pin attempt from Larry Z. Some really powerful looking strikes send Larry Z to the outside. They go back to the commentary booth after this to discuss the close pinfall. I definitely recommend finding the full version, it's much more enjoyable than the clipped one. You get the full story of the match that way, and you can really feel the emotion in the Saito comebacks. The crowd is SO into the Saito roll-up. I enjoyed going back and checking this out, but I'll probably break out the DVD (when I can) to see the full version again.

 

#484 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-500-451/

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I could only see the clipped version of #484 w/ Zbyszko on commentary, but you take what you can get. The focus of the clipped version is Larry Z's commentary. Larry was a great talker and it was easy to get suckered into his outrageous take on the match. Some offensive comments, but hey, Zbyszko made a living out of being obnoxious. Would have to see the complete version to actually concentrate on the bout.

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One big difference between NJPW and AJPW s how heavily the ring is miced. NJPW you hear so much more of the grunts and screams. It can be a little jarring.

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When I first dove into the 90 yb a few years ago this was one of the matches that absolutely blew me away. I was awe struck at how good it was. I just didn't expect something so fast paced from these two guys in 1990

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The opening portions off this was slow and uneventful, with the exception of Zbyszko's subtle heel facial expressions and gestures. Things pick up once Larry ups the heel tactics to 11 and hits Saito with a low blow. The crowd go apeshit and then we get a hot finishing stretch, with every backdrop feeling like they could be responsible for ending the match.

 

★★★½

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NJPW has this up on their YouTube channel for the week in honor of Saito's passing. It is in pristine video quality compared to that oh so lovely 90's VHS grained out look.

But, if you're coming to this in the future, don't worry! I'm positive that the old version will be great as well.

Speaking of greatness, l could tell that this was going to be a fantastic encounter from the very first collar-and-elbow! Oh man! Take note current wrestlers, THIS is how you tie up! 

The match was a fine example of how to create drama and excitement without running through moves. The holds were credible and meaningful towards the outcome of the fight. Their strikes were stiff yet, measured. Larry & Mr. Saito used their body language (and actual language in Lar's case) to convey athleticism, desperation, and that killer instinct. This was a great match.

Thank you Mr. Saito!

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A nice surprise and a pleasure to watch this match. It's an awesome mid-card level match and a great curio. Larry in 1990 looks like someone still in his prime and I immediately feel like going back and watching some other Larry Z stuff. Crispness, smarts and struggle and a fun babyface performance from Mr Saito.

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