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[1991-11-05-NJPW-3 Days Battle] Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs Rick Steiner & Scott Norton


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  • 4 months later...

Weird that the Steiners weren't stripped of the IWGP tag titles while Scott was injured, or that they didn't at the very least make an effort to switch the belts a little sooner. Muto and Hase made a great team and have really become maybe my favorite early 90s tag team. We know Muto to be a guy who chooses when he wants to be on, and he definitely chose to be on here. He goes after Rick and Norton pretty hard after Hase gives him the hot tag, and he takes some bumps on the floor for Rick's offense that fall somewhere between daring and completely stupid. At least he sold the onslaught for everything he had. Maybe it's the idea and I'm just being worked, but Rick's headdropping suplexes on Muto seem to cross a line from exciting to reckless. The boos Rick gets for some of the big spots make me think they were trying to play on the Steiners Brothers' asshole reputation in this one.

 

Norton tries, but his limitations can't help but show themselves. Rick has his power spots that get over in Japan, but he just isn't a complete wrestler at all. More than the quality of the match itself, this is another reminder of how good Muto could have been if he wanted to be. When he felt up to it, he was as good as anyone at getting over a match's storyline and keeping a crowd interested. And this is another quality outing from Hase's peak year. HUGE pop for the title change. I wish Muto and Hase could have had an ongoing partnership/feud throughout the entire decade, but it wasn't meant to be.

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They probably should have put it up for grabs no later than at the Tag League (10/5 - 10/17).

 

Scott got hurt back on 6/14.

 

On the other hand, it's possible that Scott at some point let them think he'd be back for this show. He did return to WCW later in November... perhaps coming back later than expected.

 

Anyway, sometimes there ends up being a long time between defenses. Misawa went from 10/93 to El Clasico on 06/03/94 without defending the TC. They probably could have slipped a defense against Taue or Kobashi into the New Years series.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Rick definitely shows some of his asshole tendencies here, but part of it also comes across as just plain heeling, like his taunting of Hase in the midst of his brutalization of Muto. Muto takes at least two absolutely insane bumps, though it's hard to tell which of Muto or Steiner is more reckless--there's the belly-to-belly on the floor where it looks like Muto's head clips the guardrail, and the Vader-on-Inoki-level German suplex. Norton throws in a few good power spots and cut-offs but is still Scott Norton and there's just so much excitement that he can bring to the table. All that said, I got sucked into this by the end, as Rick in particular really did come off as an asshole bully who didn't seem like he could be stopped, and it really looked like they were going to methodically pound Muto into defeat just as Choshu did. So when Muto counters the powerslam and gets another hot tag, and Hase almost immediately gets cut off in a very well-done spot, and then counters the Steinerline in an even better spot, and then gets the PIN(!!) on Rick...yeah, they earned that big pop. I don't know if Rick attempting the same finishing stretch as Choshu did was intentional or not but it comes off as pretty great storytelling either way. Hase looks great and it's hard to envision Muto getting unseated as WOTY at this point.

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Scott Steiner not ready to wrestle in New Japan yet. Norton is one of those guys I want to revisit but he’s not impressing me on these yearbooks. Muto went to the same barber as Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber. Rick’s release German on Muto was sick. Satisfying to see Hase get the pinfall on Steiner after Rick being an asshole during the match. Muto and Hase were game here.

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  • 11 months later...

Norton being added was a plus for me to see someone different from Scott. I think it also reigned in Rick's goofy tendencies with the barking and crawling under Scott's legs and made him more of a prick heel yelling at Hase on the apron. The comeback and timing of Muto along with the finish really built up well and had the crowd in the frenzy. One of my favorite Rick Steiner performances of all time.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...

This was a much better match than I thought it was going to be. Steiner and Norton looked damn near unstoppable for three-quarters of it; Norton may have been limited as a wrestler, but he looked like a beast doing what he did, and there was surprising continuity between himself and Steiner, as they dominated Hase and Muto each in their turn. Rick's pride and cockiness was what undid everything, as he chose the wrong time to make it personal between himself and Hase, which led to completely ignoring almost a sure three-count on Muto, who then made the tag which eventually led to the upset win for the natives.

 

I'm not sure if any of you out there have the original copy of the tape or TV show, but if someone does, did the tape cut out before Muto and Hase shook hands with Rick, or did they snub him (in kayfabe, of course) over what happened between him and Hase?

 

Norton was one hell of a better substitute partner for Rick than Kazmaier was, I'll say that for him. Kazmaier was one of the men for whom the saying "doesn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch" was invented, while Norton did what he did as well as he could. Had he come to WCW around this time, I could see him being given a decent midcard push, provided that he could talk at all.

 

If the finish was a deliberate build on the Steiners' bad reputation, it was excellently done, as Rick looked surprisingly natural playing the arrogant bully, much like Scott did later on as Big Poppa Pump.

 

What a run of excellent tag matches from Japan, The All-Japan matches are definitely better, but this one was hardly chopped liver. What I'd like to see now is a match between the reunited Steiners and either Misawa/Kawada or Jumbo/Taue. It's too bad in a way that Watts decided to bring Doc and Bamm Bamm home when he was looking for a Japanese team to oppose the Steiners, because either of the two teams I just mentioned would have been excellent opponents for them as long as the native Japanese weren't presented as stereotypical Jap heels (which, knowing Watts, they probably would have been.)

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  • 2 years later...

I actually thought Scott Norton brought something very necessary to this match. He gave the natives offense when it made sense to do so. I agree that Rick comes across as an asshole bully, but at the same time he was bleeding into Doc/Gordy territory when it came to guzzling his opponents. Neither Steiner ever got the idea that you have to give your opponent meaningful offense to create the idea they are a threat. The story of the match makes sense, what doesn't is that Steiner goes down after essentially taking zero offense before that sequence so quickly. And I will agree that Norton is not ever going to set the world on fire, but I'll take him over either Steiner brother. He's smarter than both combined as a worker.

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  • 2 weeks later...

IWGP Tag Team Champions Rick Steiner & Scott Norton vs Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh - NJPW 11/5/91

 

Injury Update: Scott Norton is subbing in for the injured Scott Steiner so that they can drop the tag titles. Hiroshi Hase's normal tag partner, Kensuke Sasaki has been out since August and would not return until June of 1992 so Keiji Mutoh is replacing him. Hase & Mutoh do make a great tag team. I think this would a good next step for Mutoh. He is the runner up to Chono in the inaugural G-1 Climax and as Great Muta picked up a big win over Fujinami. I think the next logical step was picking up a title and tag title makes sense.

 

Rick Steiner is an awesome wrecking force. At the end of the day, it is New Japan and selling just doesn't matter in this promotion (major exception in this match). Once you resign yourself to that fact, you can just watch the great offense. First it is Hase taking a beating. I think in Hase's heat segment. Norton shined more. Big lariats. A great bodyslam on the floor. Great energy. Steiner hit his trademark bulldog. I thought Hase's selling was pretty pedestrian. The transition was terrible as usual and I cant remember what it was. Mutoh's hot tag was great. Dropkicks galore. Back handspring elbow! He goes up top and Rick Steiner hits an overhead belly to belly. Then it is just the Rick Steiner show! Belly to belly on the outside. They tease a possible countout finish Mutoh is selling. What is going on? Actual selling! RELEASE GERMAN! Mutoh is dead and he is selling it. Again, the transition was terrible, but hey there was actual selling and it was from Mutoh of all people! Hase comes in. He is all piss and vinegar. Great dropkick. Then he eats a Rick Steiner RELEASE GERMAN! I could watch Rick Steiner kill bitches dead all day. STEINERLINE! URNAGE OUT OF NOWHERE! ANOTHER ONE! Mutoh hits his moonsault. FRANKENSTEINER ON NORTON! NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPLEX ON RICK STEINER! 1-2-3! NEW IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS YAHOOOOOOO! Ok, I added that Yahoo.

 

Pretty much from the Keiji Mutoh hot tag this is gold. Sure there is selling and transition issues, but that does not mean this is not a ton of fun. Mutoh had great energy and Rick Steiner was a suplex machine. The finish run was a total bombfest that I loved. ***1/2

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  • GSR changed the title to [1991-11-05-NJPW-3 Days Battle] Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs Rick Steiner & Scott Norton

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