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[1998-08-02-ECW-Heatwave] Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanaka

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This match blew my mind at the time. Now, not so much since I've seen both guys in much better matches worked this way. This is better than a lot of touring matches in the sense that they didn't really have to dumb down their normal style or change much about it, since the FMW style fit in so well with the ECW style. This had more wrestling than the usual Sandman/Dreamer crap. I've liked Shane Douglas as a color guy, but he rivals Larry Zbyszko in how he buries this with outdated calls. I've watched a lot between these guys now, with a lot still to come, and I am still trying to figure out what their signature match is. I don't think this is it. This is either a style you love or hate, but they worked the style very well here.

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I was going to slag this, but you know, they actually did a really good job building to the huge spot where Tanaka power bombed Awesome through a table. And then they didn't overstay their welcome. That crazy spot actually led to the finish. Awesome was such a weird wrestler. No matter what Joey Styles said, he actually looked shitty doing most of those high spots. But he knew what got him over and didn't attempt to be anything he wasn't. So I have to give him credit for that, even if I don't enjoy watching him.

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This was insanely fun and a great way to get yourself over with a crowd that may not be as knowledgeable about you. Was it excessive? Sure, but they did build to the big spot like Childs said and the action was ferocious and made the 11 minutes feel like a true war. No wasted motion occurred and I was pumped for this match again like it was the first time I had watched. ***1/2

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That big spot also played nicely off their previous ECW singles match at the Elks Lodge, where Tanaka took a nasty power bomb through a table to the floor.

 

 

This match blew my mind at the time. Now, not so much since I've seen both guys in much better matches worked this way. This is better than a lot of touring matches in the sense that they didn't really have to dumb down their normal style or change much about it, since the FMW style fit in so well with the ECW style. This had more wrestling than the usual Sandman/Dreamer crap. I've liked Shane Douglas as a color guy, but he rivals Larry Zbyszko in how he buries this with outdated calls. I've watched a lot between these guys now, with a lot still to come, and I am still trying to figure out what their signature match is. I don't think this is it. This is either a style you love or hate, but they worked the style very well here.

 

I think this match still holds up, but these two had a style where it just didn't produce very different matches each time they went out. As a result, it's hard to really tell the matches apart, other than a couple of memorable finishes (like the N2R 99 match).

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Yeah, this was pretty good, and even a bit less spotfesty than you might expect as they built well to Awesome finally going down. And the spots *do* hit, which is all you can ask for in a match like this. Some of this stuff is incredibly cringeworthy in retrospect, as you can't help but think that Awesome's bump through the table was probably one of the concussions that killed him. I won't say that it's aged all that well but it's easy to see why this series was so loved at the time.

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Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanaka - ECW HeatWave 98

 

That table bump was INSANE! The table did not really break his fall and his head looked like it hit the concrete hard.

 

Awesome should have been a bigger deal in the US. I don't think he had much charisma, but with that size and coordination he could have been at least a top level heel (thanks, Vince Russo). I thought this was an awesome offensive exhibition for the big man.. For Masato Tanaka, he of course takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. I have never seen an FMW match before, but it seemed like a pretty good ECW match. Awesome was hitting his spots perfectly. He was really showing off his balance on the top rope. Those dives were great. The steel chair war was fun, which I know is their trademark. Those exposed steel chair shots to Tanaka's head made me cringe. Love the Awesombomb! Thought for sure Tanaka was going through table on the floor, pretty crazy Awesome took it. Surprised Tanaka went ove but strong finish with the Tornado DDT on steel chair. Very good garbage brawl. ***1/2

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Awesome wastes no time to bust out some high-risk moves. Despite being nearly 300 pounds, Awesomes moves with the grace and technique of a skilled cruiserweight. Joey Styles bitches on about how other big guys aren't bothered enough to leave their feet as if that's a bad thing. Tanaka takes some sickening chair shots and the crowd finally wakes up. After taking some more punishment, Tanaka is able to fight back and hit a devastating powerbomb to the outside, through a table. That spot was one of the few big moments that was built up well. The finish felt like a let-down, as it came out of nowhere. Although this was lacking a coherent structure and suffers from a severe lack of psychology, this was still entertaining as a pure spectacle. An awesome spectacle doesn't equate to a good match though. ★★¾

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