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Charles (Loss)

[1991-08-07-NJPW-Summer Night Fever G1 Climax] Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami

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This took a while to get going, but turned into a good match. Kudos to Fujinami for taking some stiff shots to get the match over, but for the first half of this or so, that's about all he adds to this. Still, Vader projects the superstar aura so much more effectively at this point than Fujinami, and has really developed his offense into something awesome. I guess it's a case of a star on the way up against a star on the way down.

 

Now down the final stretch it's a different story, as Fujinami's kickouts on pin attempts and teased comebacks are excellent. I don't like the fluke finish, but it's really the only way I would have bought Fujinami winning at this point, so I won't complain too much about that. Solid match.

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I have always liked this match-up, and this was another good one between them. As Loss said, they weren't really equals at this point, so they didn't work it that way. Fujinami blitzed Vader at the bell but after that, he settled into taking a major ass beating. They did a standout job with the comeback teases. And then Fujinami hooked the backslide, which felt like an upset but not a ridiculous one given the work building up to it. They did everything they needed to do and nothing more.

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Fantastic match, one that feels like a proto-version of Vader vs. Sting. This is dominant heel vs. plucky babyface stuff all the way, with Vader spending a long time in control and using a dragon sleeper and scorpion deathlock just to be a dick. The backslide was a little weak but Fujinami's comebacks before that were all great.

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Quite a simple format as Fujinami hangs on for dear life and then wins with one smart veteran move. I liked Vader working over his victim with typical brutality, laying in hard shots to the face. Clever ending as the Dragon anticipates a lariat and countered it with a backslide, a move that uses Vader's weight against him. Quite solid but the fireworks wouldn't start until day 2.

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Vader now wearing his more familiar mask. Don't think he should be bumping that big for a Fujinami clothesline. Vader clubs away at Fujinami's face and then puts him in a Dragon Sleeper. And a Scorpion Death lock attempt. Just rubbing it in now. Vader with the straps down. Couple clothesline attempts. Oh, bad idea as he ends up losing to a backslide. Totally cool with that finish with Fujinami having that move to counter Vader's aggressiveness.

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Another upset and worked in a different way from Choshu/Chono but effective. Vader has not had a ton of performances in 1991 but has looked good to great in every single one. Fujinami is not what he was in the 80's but can play a good underneath babyface.

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This is similar to Choshu/Chono in that the loser keeps his tough guy rep even while losing. Vader lays a major beating on Fujinami, but doesn't know when to stop, which leaves him wide open for the backslide out of nowhere. I'm surprised someone with Fujinami's credentials would go to the lengths he did to make Vader look unbeatable; the post shot he took where Vader got a running start from the entranceway might have been the most brutal of its kind that I've ever seen. I liked the handshake at the end too, mostly because you wouldn't expect a maniac like Vader to care that much about sportsmanship. He didn't make a big deal out of doing it or anything, but it was still a pleasant surprise.

 

What was the stuff they were spraying Fujinami with afterward? Was it plain water, or perhaps ethyl chloride?

 

I'm looking forward to seeing how much this match took out of Fujinami, as we have what should be quite a bout with him and Mutoh coming up soon.

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Yeah Vader is someone to look forward to whenever you see his name pop up 1991. This is a great year for him no doubt. These guys have really good chemistry. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

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I thought Vader bumped a little too much right at the opening bell. Finish was good for the dynamic of the rivalry and match, and keeps Vader strong going forward. I get this feeling I'm going to not want to see another sharpshooter/scorpion deathlock for a long time after this tournament.

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I wrote some notes for this match a long time ago for a short lived project that never made it to the internet. Might as well dust them off and share them here.

Vader sucker punching Fujinami before the bell and exclaiming "motherfucker!" in frustration while throwing a chair really sets the tone for this match. He then proceeds to attempt to rupture Fujinami's ear drum, and later holds him by the hair while trapping his arms and throws relentless unprotected shots to his face. Jesus. Even by Vader standards there's some brutal stuff in this match. Fujinami to his credit fires up with some stiff shots right back, getting the crowd behind him to the point he gets a great reaction from a kick out on a simple slam. Which really does feel like an accomplishment thanks to his selling and the punishment he's endured.

Like a lot of Vader matches this is essentially a two act play and I can see the first act being a bit slow to some, but I was into this start to finish. Vader throws a clothesline that I noted "sounds like a piece of meat being thrown on the ground." That's my lasting memory of this one.

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