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General thoughts on 1991


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  • 3 weeks later...

AJW 1991 Thoughts & Top 10 List So having now finished everything from 1991 AJW that I know of that's available here's some random top whatever list & general thoughts 14 Shows (comm tapes & tv eps) + 2 fan cam matches 87 matches total


Top 10 matches


1. 4/29/1991 (3WA Tag Titles - 2 out of 3 Falls) Aja Kong & Bison Kimura © vs Manami Toyota & Esther Moreno

2. 6/18/1991 (3WA Tag Titles - 2 out of 3 Falls) Aja Kong & Bison Kimura © vs Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue

3. 9/7/1991 (3WA Title) Bull Nakano © vs Kyoko Inoue

4. 1/4/1991 (3WA Title) Bull Nakano © vs Akira Hokuto

5. 1/11/1991 (Hair vs Hair) Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue vs Aja Kong & Bison Kimura

6. 4/29/1991 (All Pacific Title) Suzuka Minami © vs Akira Hokuto

7. 5/26/1991 Toshiyo Yamada vs Yumiko Hotta

8. 8/18/1991 (JGP Finals) Kyoko Inoue vs Bison Kimura

9. 12/9/1991 (Tag Leauge The Best 91 Semi Final) Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuta vs Aja Kong & Bison Kimura

10. 11/15/1991 (Elimination Cage) Bull Nakano & Monster Ripper vs Aja Kong & Bison Kimura


Just missing the cut 8/18/1991 (JGP) Toshiyo Yamada vs Kyoko Inoue


For me nothing touched the Jungle Jack vs Toyota & Esther match in terms of pure excitement but the 6/18 tag is a real real close 2nd. The work is off the charts great but it's the neat little touches, storytelling & playing off history that bring it to another level. After that the 2 Bull 3WA matches are really close to each other as well and on another day I could easily flip the 2. And even though it draged by the end the majority of the November cage match really was too great not to have it this high. Not top 10 or 20 or anything but special mentions to the Bat vs Kurisu shoot being the most surprisingly awesome match of the year and to Toyota vs Suzuka for being the most disapointing.


Top 10 Wrestlers


1. Bull

2. Aja

3. Kyoko

4. Hokuto

5. Bison

6. Toyota

7. Esther Moreno

8. Yamada

9. Takako

10. Yoshida


Bull's easily wrestler of the year, no questions asked. She is the Sun and everything in the Zenjo world revolves around her. It's weird too, as i've always known she was great, I had her #10 on my greatest joshi wrestler ballot over on the Smarks Choice board years ago but I still never knew she was THIS great. There's very very few people I can think of who were better playing the unbeatable monster role as she was this year. One of the bigger stories of the year was Kyoko's rise up the ranks. I might not have had her this high up on my list earlier in the year but once she won the JGP and got out of Bull's shadow she was on an amazing hot streak of awesome matches. Like i've mentioend before discovering how good the Moreno's were was another highlight of the year for me. Esther easily steals the show in every match she's a part of and the only reason she's as low as 7 on my list is because she didn't get as many high profile big matches to shine in and was mostly regulated to mid card matches most of the time. Takako getting a big push as a mat wrestling/submission master took a little getting used to since that's not usually the style I associate her with damn if she wasn't great at it. Special mention to Mika Takahashi, Miori Kamiya & Bat as wrestlers who I also came out of this year with a much higher opinion of then I did going in. Bat especially, I still wouldn't call her good or anything but I used to think she outright sucked most of the time but for much of this year she was perfectly decent. Going from someone I used to dread watching to someone I don't mind sitting through is quite the acomplishment. And the only wrestler I can say I had a lower opinion of by the end of the year or atleast was disapointed by was Hotta. The May Yamada match was great, the Bull cage match was really good and she looked impressive hidden in a lot of random 6 man tags but I really feel like she failed to deliver when given the chance to be in the spotlight more times then not and a lot of the other good matches she was involved in this year were good despite her involvement not because of it.


Bull & friends vs Jungle Jack is obviously feud of the year but beyond that as far as secondary feuds/storylines I really dug Toyota's mini quest to take down Aja, the All Pacific title mix between Hokuto/Suzuka/Toyota, the AJW title sceen built around Takako and the way they slid in Hokuto as Bull's new bff (after having a friendly rivalry earlier in the year) right around the time they started breaking Kyoko away from that role.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I need some clarification on USWA TX. When did the tv show resume after it was cut from the air for the women beating incidents. Was 1/5/91 the first show or we just don't have footage/ nothing was yearbook worthy on the previous shows? Also, Scott Hudson mentions that everyone was based in Atlanta and then flew to Dallas to tape the tv. Does anyone know why Pedicino did this?

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They did their first taping on 12/29. Matches started airing in January. It never re-aired on KTVT in Dallas to the best of my knowledge, which is probably one reason it's more of a workrate promotion in '91, while being less angle-driven. Most of this footage is from the ESPN time slot and syndication of USWA Challenge. Kevin Von Erich ran TWF shows at the Sportatorium from September-December. None of that exists on tape. Not sure about the Atlanta part.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I've hit the half way point for 1991. The thing that comes to my mind first is WCW. It was probably the best promotion for the first half of 1990 and now it's tough to watch. What a drop off in form. The angles/story lines are pretty bad and Flair who was great in 1990 isn't doing too much at this point. WWF may not be providing that many TV/taped matches but both the Rumble and WrestleMania delivered some good matches. WrestleMania was well represented on yearbook. Maybe the most of any of the previous yearbooks. Memphis has been good but USWA-TX has been frustrating with their overuse of gimmicks that are prohibited by PG censors. Lucha hasn't been as strong as been mostly just Bravos matches. New Japan has had some good matches with Liger/Honaga but AJPW seems to be getting in gear towards their run in the mid 90's.

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  • 1 month later...

Another year over, and despite a super-hot month of January, wrestling definitely saw an overall decline from the peaks of 1990. WCW almost disintegrated before making a recovery in October. All-Japan provided a number of great matches but also seemed to be spinning its wheels a bit as Misawa’s crew slowly continued their push—but lacking the freshness of the big 1990 reconstruction of the promotion. USWA-Texas fell off and then folded, and Memphis declined throughout the year as well as Eddie Gilbert left and Eric Embry got more and more marginalized. The UWF split up three ways and Tenryu was off in his own world and lacking the number of standout opponents he got to work with from 1987-89. Mexico fell off as well, though that may be because 1990 was so spectacular. The promotion with the biggest shot in the arm was the WWF and even it saw a decline in the depth of quality work—there were some outstanding matches but less in the way of really strong mid-card bouts like POP/Rockers and Piper/Perfect. But the booking was tons better with lots of super-hot angles and the arrival of Flair, which was a major boost even if he wasn’t used as ideally as we all would have wanted. AJW had more to offer as well, as the mid-carders improved and things seemed to revolve a bit less around Bull Nakano.


So this wasn’t as good of a watch as 1990, but things are looking up for 1992—tons of Dangerous Alliance goodness to come, the beginnings of post-Jumbo All-Japan, the Flair/Savage feud, and more new NJPW, AJW, and lucha shit I haven’t seen. With the end of ’91, again come my picks for the Observer Awards. Same format as the 1990 edition—real-life winners in parantheses, same criteria as set out by Dave but again, going by the full 1991 calendar year rather than November-to-November.




1. Keiji Mutoh

2. Jumbo Tsuruta

3. Mitsuharu Misawa

Everyone in North America had major weaknesses going against them. Business was down, Flair was misused and inactive, and Hogan spent most of the year with a steroid cloud over his head. As a guy who snarkily has dismissed Mutoh as a one-year wonder in the past I have to admit I was way wrong about him. Even in losing the G-1 finals he came off as New Japan’s top guy in a strong year for the promotion and offered up a ton of great performances as both a singles and tag worker. AJPW also was very hot, but I think Jumbo was still bringing more to the feud than Misawa was—again in both singles and tag work. Misawa is still a year away from being the Man.



1. Keiji Mutoh

2. Jushin Liger

3. Jumbo Tsuruta

Dandy, Hansen, and Eaton all disappear after being on the ballot last year. Dandy had a good peak but not the transcendent peak of 1990 and we just didn’t see enough of his other matches. Liger may have been the most versatile worker of the year, working face-vs.-heel U.S. style, high-flying divefests, showing good mat skills, and by the end of the year even getting over with North American crowds. He only barely loses out on the top spot due to Mutoh’s G-1 performance.



1. Jerry Lawler

2. Mitsuharu Misawa

3. Randy Savage

Hogan was a bigger negative on the WrestleMania VII build than Slaughter and did more in his promos to exploit the war. Plus he was telling us to believe in Hulk Hogan while his reputation outside of the WWF bubble was being beaten to a pulp. So despite all objective evidence to the contrary I can’t in good conscience vote for him.


BEST HEEL (The Undertaker)

1. Jake Roberts

2. Jumbo Tsuruta

3. Ric Flair

Undertaker was simply too popular for me to give him the award here, even after a semi-desparate attempt to heel him up with the Warrior casket angle. Jake’s ’91 cemented him as possibly the scariest motherfucker in wrestling history, because he barely even changed his character and didn’t need elaborate sets or being booked to no-sell all the top babyfaces to come across as a threat. Jumbo really ramped up the dickishness in 6-mans as the year wore on, relentlessly targetting every Misawa injury including eye and nose work not really seen in Japan, and just acting above it all when in the ring with anybody else on his team. Flair may be more of a sentimental pick but he ultimately thrived in afresh setting with fresh new opponents, in an environment where he was finally suited to being a heel instead of forcing himself into the role because that’s how he preferred it. His Survivor Series interview about killing Hulkamania and the WWF Championship is the tiebreaker that puts him over Eric Embry.


FEUD OF THE YEAR (Super Generation Army vs. Jumbo’s Army)

1. Super Generation Army vs. Jumbo’s Army

2. Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts

3. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage

Savage had an incredible year for a guy who didn’t wrestle for half of it. As a talker Jake was almost on another level from anyone else in wrestling, yet Savage came as close as anybody possibly could to keeping up with him. And his other feud with him in the opposite role against a limited (to say the least) opponent was almost as good. Nothing is going to touch the All-Japan feud for sheer consistency and match quality, however.


TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR (Misawa/Kawada)

1. Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada

2. Los Brazos

3. Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki

Honorable Mention: The Enforcers

Had the Enforcers been formed earlier and not given way to the Arn/Eaton team by year’s end they’d have gotten a spot on the ballot proper. Misawa & Kawada finally solidified and got the best work out of the MVCs and were as reliable as any team you’ll ever see in wrestling. This ballot was three American teams last year and three international teams this year. Even with an improved AJPW tag division and more great work from the Brazos, it’s a sign of how badly tag team wrestling was beginning to trail off in the Big Two.


MOST IMPROVED (Dustin Rhodes)

1. Cactus Jack

2. Masahiro Chono

3. Dustin Rhodes

Jack was in a different world from 1990 in every facet, or even the spring of ‘91. He bulked up (*cough*), added actual hurty-looking offense to go along with the sick bumps, and turned into a tremendous interview and sort of a spiritual alternative to Jake Roberts’ work. Chono was now a legitimate main eventer and would be a WOTY contender in a year without as much competition from All-Japan. That Dustin managed to win the real-life award despite the entire Observer readership being against the very thought of his existence is a major testament to him.



1. Tatsumi Fujinami

2. Konnan

3. Black Blood

Honorable Mention: Teddy Long

I don’t think Dave’s criteria allow you to vote for managers for this category, or otherwise I’d give it to last year’s Manager of the Year who followed up on that by losing Doom and being sidelined with a comedy gimmick character. I think Davey Boy was already on his way to being a roided-out balloon in 1990 .Fujinami was involved in some very good matches but also a number of disappointing ones—and most of those very good matches were carry-jobs by his opponent. Masked Konnan offered some glimpses of being a very good worker in addition to being a charismatic star, but this year was pretty much a reminder of why so many of us can’t stand him. I don’t really know what Haynes was like in his post-WWF period but man was that a shitty gimmick with a shitty performance living down to it.



1. Jason Hervey

2. Herb Abrams

3. Tony Rumble

Yeah, there was less UWF on this Yearbook, but I don’t think Abrams could have improved that much. If at all. Still, at least Abrams knew what his character was supposed to be instead of the obnoxious twerp TV star who palled around with Dusty while cutting promos like a heel and dating a heel announcer. Hervey was the equivalent of your boss’ trust-fund kid, with a trophy wife/girlfriend to boot. The merger with what was left of “World Class” did little to improve the ICW product.



1. Jake Roberts

2. Eric Embry

3. Randy Savage

Ric was great and made a strong run towards this award at the tail end of the year, but Jake was a force unseen by anyone in the WWF and Embry was a constant throughout 1991. Savage’s sitdown interview after the reception attack may have been the single best promo of the year. Jake and Savage also delivered great promos as both heels and babyfaces.



1. Hulk Hogan

2. The Undertaker

3. Atsushi Onita

Hard for anyone to unseat Hogan at this time. Undertaker compelled crowds despite rarely doing a whole lot in the ring, and Onita even with the help from the explosions and barbed wire, made some fairly pedestrian opposition look like a struggle to the death.



1. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

2. Hiroshi Hase

3. The Scorpion

Volk Han had just debuted towards the end of the year, so Fujiwara retains the award from 1990. Hase had what may have been his first truly outstanding year, while the Scorpion places 3rd just for the sheer shattering of expectations. If Liger wasn’t 1991’s most versatile worker, then Scorpion was.



1. Cactus Jack

2. Atsushi Onita

3. Stan Hansen

Cactus went from being a nothing bump machine to providing two legit MOTYCs, in matches with Gilbert and Sting. Quite the turnaround. Onita anad Hansen are a little less surprising and I don’t think they need much explanation.



1. Jushin Liger

2. Brian Pillman

3. The Lightning Kid

I really wanted to put a lucha guy here because I feel like I’m shortchanging it, as well as AJW. But the cross-section of guys we saw from Mexico was pretty diverse in comparison to 1990 and a lot of the best performances were either on the mat or in bloody brawls. The best pure lucha flyer may have been Eddie Guerrero.



1. The Triangle of Terror

2. Sid Justice

3. El Gigante

I liked Sarge’s performances and the fireball angle was a good one, but after the Desert Storm Match the horse was dead. Sid still wasn’t anything other than a great look and amazingly, despite the big initial push, it didn’t seem like the WWF missed him while he was gone. It’s flabbergasting that WCW still believed there was something worthwhile in keeping El Gigante around.



1. Brian Pillman

2. Dutch Mantell

3. Bobby Eaton

Taylor may have been lost in the shuffle in the York Foundation, may have been stuck on a scaffold on a major PPV appearance, and may have in a past life been the Red Rooster—but he didn’t have to dress up like Goldust’s poorer cousin, either. Meanwhile Dutch Mantell is one of the best talkers in the business and is a solid worker, and he can’t get a cup of coffee with the WWF and WCW…yeah. They did attempt a token push with Eaton but he spent most of the year lost in the wilderness as a babyface.



1. New Japan

2. All-Japan

3. WWF

I’ve always been an All-Japan guy first but New Japan felt fresher and even if it wasn’t quite as consistent, was much better when it came to diversity. Better juniors action and the “on any given night…” vibe was palpable without being like the modern-day WWE of no one really coming off as special. The WWF wasn’t high on ring action, but man, those angles and feuds. After so many lame-ass programs in 1990 the dark storylines of 1991 were greatly appreciated.



1. All-Japan

2. Memphis

Basically N/A on this one, the same as last year. AJPW is still a fairly safe bet for the top spot and Memphis was still good for a hot angle or promo most weeks, just not every week as in 1990. Superstars probably should be #3.


MATCH OF THE YEAR (Steiners vs. Hase/Sasaki)

1. Keiji Mutoh vs. Masahiro Chono (8/11/91)

2. Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi (4/20/91)

3. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (3/24/91)

Honorable Mention: Scorpion vs. Cutie Suzuki (8/30/91), Trio Fantasia vs. Los Thundercats (12/8/91), Sting vs. Cactus Jack (11/23/91), WarGames (2/24/91)

Mutoh/Chono was the best-worked match with what felt like the biggest setting—the final piece of one of the best round-robin tournaments ever, and carried an historic, star-making performance with it. The 6-man was the best of the year’s best feud and may have been the year’s best-worked match, but like all those Dangerous Alliance 6-mans you could argue that the long-term effect wasn’t that great. I suppose I’m going sentimental again with #3 but it is to WWF-style sports entertainment what 6/3/94 was to All-Japan, and I felt it deserved notice.


MANAGER OF THE YEAR (Sensational Sherri)

1. Paul Bearer

2. Paul E. Dangerously

3. Sensational Sherri

Maybe the last year of managers mattering. Cornette was basically absent after January, Bobby Heenan retired, Paul E. was on commentary for the bulk of the year, Teddy Long suffered a horrendous dropoff, and Hart and Fuji were almost playing out the string at this point. Bearer managed the year’s best gimmick and was an integral part of that gimmick. Paul E. probably did better overall work but was only a manager for the last two months of the year. Sherri and Savage were a terrific combo but I don’t think she and DiBiase ever quite clicked.



1. Volk Han

2. Johnny B. Badd

Like last year, a two-horse race. Badd was mostly potential here while Han was already bringing the goods.



1. Dave Brown

2. Tony Schiavone

3. Dr. Alfonso Morales

Granted, a lot of the product sucked, but Ross tapered off very badly, to the point where I simply can’t place him on the ballot. His enthusiasm went down and much of the time he acted like the match was getting in the way of the hotline, merchandise Braves,, and radio shills he wanted to do. You can blame that on WCW as a whole but I thought Schiavone had an excellent year working both roles as play-by-play man and color. He may have had less bullshit to call on the syndie shows but he got guys over (I still think his explanation of how Big Josh was adopting professional techniques was outstanding and fit perfectly within the story of the match) and had all sorts of historical nuggets to contribute on the PPV shows. But Brown remained the standout, even if his own work, activity, and the product he called declined a bit. With Russell more or less gone from TV, Brown was also wrestling’s best interviewer. Morales is a reputation pick but I don’t think it’s quite fair to give zero consideration to the foreigners when so much attention is paid to the wrestling that goes there. Terrific voice that has me picking up things through my limited understanding of Spanish, and fluent speakers whose opinions I trust have vouched for him as well.



1. Herb Abrams

2. Sean Mooney

3. Gorilla Monsoon

See Most Obnoxious for the write-up of Abrams. Fairly safe pick. Monsoon had some good banter with the Brain and showed some really good outrage at times, especially towards Jake, but he also didn’t do shit to get Ric Flair over in any way. We would need Flair’s Royal Rumble performance to drag him into doing that, kicking and screaming. Honestly, my issues with Ross aside ’91 was not a bad year for announcing. Mooney didn’t have me running for the mute button and Gorilla was still better than he’d become.



BEST MAJOR WRESTLING CARD (WrestleWar): WrestleWar it is. A North American MOTYC main event and some terrific matches on the undercard.


WORST MAJOR WRESTLING CARD (Great American Bash): Like this is even a contest. GAB ’91 lives down to its reputation as the longtime gold standard for shitty PPVs. I will continue to give credit for Morton vs. Gibson, a grossly underappreciated match that I suspect will ultimately rank this show ahead of the WCW shit to come at the end of the decade.


BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER (Masao Orihara’s moonsault to the floor): Well, unfortunately Orihara didn’t make the Yearbook. Among things we actually saw, I’ll go with Eddie Guerrero’s springboard dive about six rows into the seats. Among actual moves for the year as a whole, a moonsault to the floor from a Japanese junior is pretty spectacular. A moonsault to the floor from a pudgy scuzzball like Billy Black is something else altogether.


MOST DISGUSTING PROMOTIONAL TACTIC (Persian Gulf War angle): Yep. Almost everything to do with Slaughter for the whole year, in fact. Maybe having been to Arlington National Cemetery last year is making me less than rational but that “I want my country back” promo from the graveyard may actually have been worse.


BEST COLOR COMMENTATOR (Paul E. Dangerously): Tony Schiavone, again, was excellent in this role. For a long time after the lowest depths of Nitro I fell into the belief that he was never really that good to begin with and that David Crockett was secretly carrying the team. Well, I still share Chad and Parv’s enthusiasm for Crockett but Schiavone really was good at one point, maybe for longer than we remember.


FAVORITE WRESTLER (Ric Flair): I have to go with Jake Roberts, who when his head was on straight may have had the greatest mind for the business that wrestling had ever seen. He made cheesy angles seem heavy and made genuinely heavy stuff look like the darkest, most terrifying shit ever conceived.


LEAST FAVORITE WRESTLER (Hulk Hogan): Yo baby, yo baby…(long, awkward silence while waiting to find the beat)…yo.


WORST (NON-ROOKIE) WRESTLER (Andre the Giant): Several candidates to choose from whose matches did not make the Yearbook. Andre is one, as are the Dragon Master, Cousin Harold, Van Hammer, Oz, Jeff Gaylord, Spirit of America, and Paul Bunyan. I feel bad voting for Andre knowing his condition and how “retirement” was not a realistic option for him, so I’ll vote for the eminently less talented El Gigante.


WORST TAG TEAM (Baba/Andre): Two years running for Baba & Andre in the real-life poll, but it was a dream team last year and is a dream team in ‘91. The Patriots were absolutely putrid and Todd Champion is another strong candidate for worst worker among guys we actually saw.


WORST WEEKLY TELEVISION SHOW (Abrams UWF): Safe pick from the readers. I(WC)CW is a perennial contender as long as it remains active.


WORST MANAGER (Mr. Fuji): Coach was a monumentally dumb idea. I know Cornette simply wasn’t interested but there was never a better time to bring him than as Bobby Heenan’s successor. Kevin Sullivan and his charges were all thoroughly embarrassing.


WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR (News/Eaton vs. Taylor/Austin scaffold match): Yep. I don’t think I can compare shoots to worked matches, whether it’s here, Pancrase, or PRIDE, so Takada vs. Berbick stays off.


WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR (Hogan vs. Slaughter): As disgusting as the premise was, Hulk and Sarge simply had enough really good matches to save it. I will again step outside of the Yearbook box and nominate Diamond Studd vs. the Z-Man. Two bad workers in a lame feud over who was sexier in a way that was about as 1/100th as entertaining as Rick Martel vs. Shawn Michaels the next year.


WORST ON INTERVIEWS (The Ultimate Warrior): Warrior was much better than in 1990 because he had strong storylines and feuds to focus on. El Gigante was only focused on wanting da belt, which wasn’t enough.


WORST PROMOTION OF THE YEAR (Abrams UWF): Hard to argue with this.


BEST BOOKER (Shohei Baba): Riki Choshu did an amazing job in New Japan on all levels. The any-given-night style gave weight to every single near-fall and every change of momentum. All-Japan simply didn’t have that, as great as the action was. It’s telling that the most significant match result of the year was a result that happened in June of 1990, done in a different way. This year will also probably be the closest Pat Patterson will ever come to deserving this award.


BEST PROMOTER (Shohei Baba): Same problem as last year in that I don’t know who gets singular credit for “promoting” New Japan. So Baba it is.


BEST GIMMICK (The Undertaker): Oh, this one’s not even a contest.


WORST GIMMICK (Oz): I get the thought process behind PN News and Van Hammer even if they were failures. I can’t fathom the thought process behind Oz, nor whichever suit at Turner (and there had to be one besides Jim Herd) signed off on using a 7-foot-tall wrestler in an old man’s mask to capitalize on the fact that THE had acquired the rights to the movie. 1991 was a year marked by every other promotion trying to outgimmick the WWF, and the WWF simply leaving everybody else in the dust in that regard. Not every WWF gimmick was a winner and not every wacky non-WWF character was without value, but the WWF was still doing what it does well, better than any other promotion.


MOST EMBARRASSING WRESTLER (Van Hammer): Many to choose from. Hammer at least was charismatic and had a great look that fit the gimmick and got carried to a watchable feud by Cactus Jack. PN News was about as dignified as Mabel with worse MC skills and equally bad ring attire.


And there it is. More specific awards to follow.

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I have to agree with Pete on his overall comments for the most part of 1991. WCW was very poor until end of year with the Rude/Steamboat/Cactus roster additions. It will lead to them having a better 92. I too found the 1990 yearbook to be better overall. I'm not a big Joshi fan and I found 91 be more of a chore to watch. Lucha was a step below and I just don't embrace the Brazos like others do. There was some fantastic promos throughout the year. This set will probably be one of the best as far as mic work. I can understand some comments I read about this yearbook being easy to go through because there is a strong balance of promos/angles and the matches for the most part aren't too long. The 90 set was tough in that for those who watched and posted had a crazy amount of posts to have to do compared to this set. I just feel there isn't enough high end matches for all these feuds in the end. Transition year is how I look at it as things get better overall in 92.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Little late follow-up but recorded for posterity...


WWF Match of the Year:

1. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (3/24/91)

2. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (Desert Storm Match, 6/3/91)

3. The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (1/19/91)

4. Ted DiBiase vs. Virgil (8/26/91)

5. Roddy Piper vs. Ric Flair (10/28/91)


WCW Match of the Year:

1. Sting vs. Cactus Jack (Submit or Surrender, 11/23/91)

2. WarGames (2/24/91)

3. Ricky Steamboat & Dustin Rhodes vs. The Enforcers (11/19/91)

4. Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman (12/27/91)

5. Lex Luger vs. Dan Spivey (2/24/91)


AJPW Match of the Year:

1. Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi (4/20/91)

2. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue (1/15/91)

3. Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (9/4/91)

4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Stan Hansen (9/4/91)

5. Misawa/Kawada/Kikuchi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi (10/15/91)

6. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Toshiaki Kawada (10/24/91)

7. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (4/18/91)

8. Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (11/29/91)

9. Steve Williams/Terry Gordy vs. Stan Hansen/Dan Spivey (4/18/91)

10. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue (4/18/91)


NJPW Match of the Year:

1. Masahiro Chono vs. Keiji Muto (8/11/91)

2. Masahiro Chono vs. Shinya Hashimoto (8/11/91)

3. Keiji Muto vs. Big Van Vader (8/10/91)

4. Keiji Muto/Hiroshi Hase vs. Rick Steiner/Scott Norton (11/5/91)

5. Jushin Liger vs. Norio Honaga (5/31/91)

6. Hiroshi Hase/Kensuke Sasaki vs. The Steiner Brothers (3/21/91)

7. Hiroshi Hase/Kensuke Sasaki vs. The Steiner Brothers (5/31/91)

8. Jushin Liger vs. Norio Honaga (4/30/91)

9. Keiji Muto/Masahiro Chono vs. Hiroshi Hase/Kensuke Sasaki (7/4/91)

10. Jushin Liger vs. Hiroshi Hase (5/6/91)


Lucha Match of the Year:

1. Trio Fantasia vs. Los Thundercats (12/8/91)

2. El Hijo del Santo vs. Brazo de Oro (1/13/91)

3. El Hijo del Santo/Black Shadow, Jr. vs. Octagon/Fuerza Guerrera (revelos atomicos, 12/15/91)

4. El Dandy vs. El Satanico (hair vs. hair, 12/6/91)

5. El Dandy/Apolo Dantes/Black Magic vs. Blue Panther/Javier Cruz/Pierroth, Jr. (8/16/91)

6. Atlantis vs. Blue Panther (8/9/91)

7. Octagon vs. Fuerza Guerrera (11/1/91)

8. Konnan/El Dandy/Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. vs. El Satanico/MS-1/Pirata Morgan (11/29/91)

9. El Satanico/MS-1/Pirata Morgan vs. Los Brazos (11/22/91)

10. Pirata Morgan/Emilio Charles, Jr./MS-1 vs. Los Brazos (WWA 1991)


Joshi Match of the Year:

1. The Scorpion vs. Cutie Suzuki (8/30/91)

2. Manami Toyota/Esther Moreno vs. Aja Kong/Bison Kimura (4/29/91)

3. Devil Masami vs. Itsuki Yamazaki (8/30/91)

4. Bull Nakano vs. Kyoko Inoue (9/7/91)

5. Manami Toyota vs. Akira Hokuto (1/11/91)

6. Akira Hokuto vs. Bull Nakano (1/4/91)

7. The Scorpion vs. Cutie Suzuki (10/10/91)

8. Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada (9/7/91)

9. Dynamite Kansai vs. Harley Saito (11/2/91)

10. Bull Nakano/Akira Hokuto vs. Aja Kong/Bison Kimura (12/9/91)


Shootstyle Match of the Year:

1. Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Masahito Kakihara (5/10/91)

2. Naoki Sano vs. Masakatsu Funaki (3/30/91)

3. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Wellington Wilkins, Jr. (5/19/91)

4. Naoki Sano vs. Minoru Suzuki (7/26/91)

5. Akira Maeda vs. Volk Han (12/7/91)


Japan Indy Match of the Year:

1. Iceman/Akitoshi Saito vs. Mr. Pogo/TNT (cage match, 9/12/91)

2. Hulk Hogan/Genichiro Tenryu vs. The Road Warriors (3/30/91)

3. Hulk Hogan vs. Genichiro Tenryu (12/12/91)

4. Atsushi Onita vs. Tarzan Goto (2/26/91)

5. Atsushi Onita vs. Tarzan Goto (barbed wire cage bomb death match, 9/23/91)

6. Perro Aguayo/Villano I/III/IV vs. Los Brazos (3/9/91)

7. Genichiro Tenryu/Ricky Fuyuki vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu/Shinichi Nakano (6/26/91)

8. Robin Hood/Los Ninja Turtles vs. Feliciano/Shu el Guerrero/Texano/Black Terry/Ricky Boy (9/12/91)

9. Yoshihiro Asai vs. Bestia Salvaje (10/29/91)

10. Headhunter B/Danny Davis vs. Headhunter A/Dr. Tom Prichard (9/7/91)


WWF Angle of the Year:

1. Jake Roberts DDTs Randy Savage three times and punches Elizabeth

2. Jake Roberts sics a king cobra on Randy Savage

3. The Undertaker locks the Ultimate Warrior in the casket


WCW Angle of the Year:

1. Paul E. Dangerously brings in Ravishing Rick Rude as the inaugural member of the Dangerous Alliance

2. Cactus Jack comes out of a gift box to lay out Sting

3. Sting knee injury and U.S. title loss to Rick Rude


USWA Angle of the Year:

1. Eddie Gilbert returns after the Lawler/Jarrett vs. Fabulous Ones match

2. Eric Embry assaults Michael St. John and Eddie Marlin

3. The Fabulous Ones split with Jim Cornette due to the presence of Jackie Fargo

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  • 3 months later...



1. Keiji Mutoh

2. Jumbo Tsuruta

3. Mitsuharu Misawa

Everyone in North America had major weaknesses going against them. Business was down, Flair was misused and inactive, and Hogan spent most of the year with a steroid cloud over his head. As a guy who snarkily has dismissed Mutoh as a one-year wonder in the past I have to admit I was way wrong about him. Even in losing the G-1 finals he came off as New Japan’s top guy in a strong year for the promotion and offered up a ton of great performances as both a singles and tag worker. AJPW also was very hot, but I think Jumbo was still bringing more to the feud than Misawa was—again in both singles and tag work. Misawa is still a year away from being the Man.

That one is kind of interesting.


From a Yearbook standpoint, "Mutoh" doesn't show up until July. "Muta" is on the Dome in March, neither the top match (Flair-Fujinami) nor the MOTN (the tag)... and you didn't really like Muta's performance in it at all.


It's a strange year for him.


No IWGP title matches. Fujinami is the champ/challenger in all 5 in the year. Vader gets into 2, doing the turn around early in the year (which are watchable matches). Flair gets the Dome in the Title vs Title. And interestingly enough, Chono gets the other two challenger spots: one before G1, and one off of G1.


There are 8 IWGP Tag Title matches, he doesn't pop up in any until the end of the year when they have to come up with a replacement for the Steiners given Scott's injury. Hase is more the constant in the division: 7 of the 8 matches partnering with Sasaki, Chono and Mutoh. It's kind of the Hase Division from 11/90 - 9/92.


G1 is G1 of course, but it's a hard one to rank... my feel at the time was:


* Three Musketeers up

* Old Guard down

* Chono wins

* Choshu 0-3


Not at all saying Mutoh was an also ran: great match with Vader, great Final. But that's pretty much match with Chono having the great draw with Hash and really could "playoff" re-match with him before also having to work the Final the same night.


Chono sort of got treated as it being his year to be the top guy among the Three Musketeers, while Hash had more of the prior year and Mutoh/Muta would get the IWGP the following year. Of the Old Guard, Riki chose to push Fujinami after it was Vader and Riki's turn the prior year and would be Riki's in 1992. The tag was Hase's, and getting over the new great gaijin team.


On the flip side, AJPW was Jumbo in 1991. Got the TC back in January and kept it the rest of the year. Won the reborn Carny. Pinned Misawa in the only TC match between the two. Singles matches over Kawada and Kobashi, working vet vs lower ranked wrestler about as well as possible. Big submission job to Misawa, which saved what I recall as his one job of the year to have major impact. A pretty terrific tag between the teams in the Tag League. All those six-men tags during the year, including the epic one in April.


Not saying Jumbo "has" to be the WOTY. More in the sense that Mutoh took something of a backseat in his own promotion to Chono. :)

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Expectations play a huge, huge role in how I rate matches and wrestlers. I'm not saying that's the correct way of doing it, but that's simply how it is. It's why Tony Atlas got a nod for 1990 Best Interview over Lawler, Jake, or the other usual suspects. I had conditioned myself to think Mutoh was overrated as fuck and Jumbo was the GOAT--unfortunately for Jumbo that leads to me holding him to a higher standard and fortunately for Mutoh he can get a bonus for surprising me. It also is a fact that I've seen everything from AJPW in '91 and '92 that's out there that matters, while my NJPW knowledge prior to these projects was limited to the juniors and a lot of other scattershot stuff mostly involving WCW guys. I still think Mutoh's overrated and I still think Jumbo's the Best, but...Mutoh surprised me in '91, and Jumbo didn't, so he inherently stuck out more.


Without going through every G-1 match again, I definitely didn't like Chono's first match with Choshu, and I think I liked Mutoh more in general throughout that tournament including the final. Fujinami in '91 was in a prime spot on cards on both sides of the ocean but had to set some sort of record for falling back-asswards into most high-quality matches that his own performance and standards didn't deserve. And in the end it was Mutoh's Match of the Year that stuck with me more than any one Jumbo performance.

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Without going through every G-1 match again, I definitely didn't like Chono's first match with Choshu, and I think I liked Mutoh more in general throughout that tournament including the final.

Some bullet point quotes of yours:


Chono-Chono: "Man, outside of the upset ending I didn't care for this at all."

Mutoh-Fujunami: "Good opening and good ending with sort of a soft middle."


Chono-Hash I: "Great job of putting over both guys"

Mutoh-Vader: "This won't win MOTYC over the big All-Japan six-man but it's a top 5 contender."


Chono-Hash II: "my first reaction is that Mutoh-Vader's run as the possible New Japan MOTY has run into a brick wall already. I liked this better than that match as well as the earlier draw."


Chono-Mutoh: "Close call but I have to put this as the #1 MOTY. [...] Seeing the growth of Chono in this tournament has been an experience, from his heatless, underwhelming match against Choshu to a guy who looks ready to carry the company on his back. "


You really liked Chono the moment the G1 ended, though you did drop this into the Vader-Mutoh match:


"Despite not being a fan of his at all, Mutoh has forced his way into strong Wrestler of the Year contention."


Though thought the match hit the NJPW MOTY brick wall the next day.


I'm not tossing that out to tie you in knots: I loved reading your comments on G1, enjoying you enjoying this legendary tourney. I've often had the same vibe about it: Vader-Mutoh is great, Hash-Chono is great (pick one), and Chono-Mutoh is great... which is better? You throw up your arms as they're all pretty much perfect for what they're trying to do at that moment.



Fujinami in '91 was in a prime spot on cards on both sides of the ocean but had to set some sort of record for falling back-asswards into most high-quality matches that his own performance and standards didn't deserve. And in the end it was Mutoh's Match of the Year that stuck with me more than any one Jumbo performance.

I split Wrestler of the Year off more from Worker of the Year than you probably do. Jumbo was the anchor of his promotion. Mutoh wasn't. Jumbo was also a great worker: you've got him as your #3. Big feud. Trio of matches that felt like big moments to some degree: pinning Misawa in the TC, getting submitted by Misawa in the Tag Title, and working a TC match with Kawada in a way the seemed to elevate Kawada from what he'd been before and prep him for what he'd be the next year (Budokan TC challenges against Hansen and Misawa).


Hell... I've voted Hogan as WOTY in the past, not caring about his work at all. :)


* * * * *


Anyway, if you lived Mutoh's year, there's more stuff out there from 1991. These were the ***+ stuff from TV in WON ratings:


03/02/91 Choshu & Fujinami & Muto vs. Vader & St. Clair & Rheingans ***1/4

04/27/91 Norton & Samoans vs. Muto & Choshu & Chono ***

05/04/91 Muto & Choshu & Fujinami vs. Norton & Samoans ****

07/13/91 Hase & Sasaki vs. Muto & Chono ****1/4

08/03/91 Vader & Bigelow vs. Muto & Chono ***1/2

08/10/91 Norton vs. Muto (G1) ***

08/24/91 Chono vs. Muto (G1 Final) ****1/2

09/21/91 Fujinami & Muto & Chono vs. Norton & Samoans ***1/2

11/23/91 R Steiner & Norton vs. Hase & Muto (IWGP Tag) ***1/2

12/07/91 Hashimoto & Norton vs. Muto & Hase ***1/4

12/28/91 Muto & Hase vs. Hashimoto & Norton (IWGP Tag) ***3/4


Those are TV dates. A decent amount of that stuff made the set, but some of it didn't. That Mutoh-Norton match is worth tracking down: Mutoh really seemed to know how to have a good match with Norton, and it really reflects well on him as a worker. That 5/4 match is pretty highly rated... might want to find the match the week before as I seem to recall they were working a Mutoh-Norton things here. In a strange way, it's Mutoh's big on going feud of the year, from the first half of the year on through the end, and he's good in it.



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There is definitely more from that G1 in general I need to see, as someone (I think Childs) had pimped a few other matches worth viewing including Vader vs. Norton (!).


Reading the criteria Dave spells out, work *does* matter in terms of WOTY. One could probably say the criteria are analogous to that of the WON HOF--that someone who's truly otherworldly in one category can make up for a deficiency in the other, but that they should ideally be a positive in work, influence, and drawing. If we ever get '80s Yearbooks I'm sure I'll vote for Hogan, too. But...I think Hogan in those years offers some positives from a work standpoint.


The stuff re: Jumbo is well-noted. If I'm picking pure favorites, he'd beat out Mutoh in any time period you can name up to and possibly even including the era of decrepit 6-man comedy Jumbo. Maybe I can revoke Mutoh's award later like I did Han's 1992 ROTY.

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