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Jumbo Tsuruta

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I realize he's kind of a boring choice, but that doesn't mean he isn't the right choice on top of the ballot. What I'm interested in is comparing Jumbo as an ace to Misawa as an ace. Is Jumbo really that clearly better than Misawa? I don't know the answer and would like to hammer it out.

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When I first got into AJPW I loved his early 90s stuff and I liked his Terry Funk match from the 70s so I just assumed that Jumbo was awesome between those two periods. Watching his 80s matches ended up being pretty disappointing because that wasn't the case. Aside from a few gems his matches from before 1986 are worked like NWA style main events but are prone to listlessness and nonsensical bomb trading. The 1986-87 stuff with Choshu is out of this world amazing but his matches outside of that feud left me unimpressed. In 1988 the style falls into place and Jumbo finally looks really good.

 

I think Loss's comment about Hokuto's reputation being based on one great year doesn't sound too far off from how I see Jumbo. I think he was a great worker for three years (1989-1991) and was mediocre to good before that. Those three years are pretty strong despite the fact that he was mostly working with young wrestlers who hadn't quite put it together yet. Still, I can't help but feel like Jumbo would have been better with a really game peer rival (albeit a fresher one than Hansen who he never really clicked with or Tenryu whose feud with Jumbo was getting stale as 1990 began). I wouldn't call him the best in the world at any point during that time period. I still love those early 90s Jumbo matches but I feel like Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Satanico, and El Dandy had much more impressive accomplishments during that same era. I'm not going to act like three great years isn't an accomplishment but some of the other GOAT candidates have lengthier and meatier peak runs.

 

Jumbo is a top 100 lock but I don't see him as a top ten guy or anything like that. I'm not even sure if he still makes my top ten Japanese wrestlers list anymore.

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Man, fuck that noise. Jumbo was capable of hanging with top wrestlers in old-school matches as a rookie, he was rocking it with Billy Robinson by '77, and he was delivering great performances throughout the '80s. The '83 Flair match and the '84 Kerry match are gems. The Choshu feud from mid-85 on when he "got it", the Tenryu feud, and the Misawa feud is a 7 year run of awesomeness. Not *every single match* is great. Nobody is 'every single match' great.

 

I can see not having him #1. He definitely won't be the consensus #1 like he was in the SC vote. That's fine.

 

Jumbo still ruled though.

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Jumbo's one of my favorites of all time. It took him a while to be a true ace, but when he got there, he really had one hell of a run. One match I hope people check out is his match with Taue vs. Kikcuhi and Kobashi from 1/26/92. A true hidden gem from late in his career. And the 10/24/91 match with Kawada is one of my favorite veteran/up-and-comer matches I've ever seen. Not as good as the two Misawa matches from 1990, but just a notch below them.

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I realize he's kind of a boring choice, but that doesn't mean he isn't the right choice on top of the ballot. What I'm interested in is comparing Jumbo as an ace to Misawa as an ace. Is Jumbo really that clearly better than Misawa? I don't know the answer and would like to hammer it out.

 

Ditch, MJH and others, what is your take on this?

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They were different aces. Misawa was the high mountain to climb; Jumbo was the vulnerable incumbent fending off the competition. Misawa was better at getting himself over; Jumbo was better at getting others over. Misawa was more consistent at producing great singles matches in the mid-90s than Jumbo was from mid '80s through early '90s; Jumbo was more consistent in tags as an ace.

 

I don't begrudge anyone rating Misawa over Jumbo.

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I'd rate Misawa as ace above Jumbo as ace because the sheer volume of classic matches can't be denied. But it should be noted that Misawa had much better opponents. Jumbo wasn't working with Kawada/Kobashi-caliber talent on a regular basis. There was Tenryu, and their feud was awesome, but it was also relatively brief. There was also Hansen, but Jumbo never really clicked with him. Then again, neither did Misawa. It should also be noted that it was Jumbo's work in the late 80s that set the table for what Misawa and company were doing in the 90s. Misawa didn't really do anything during his Tiger Mask run that screamed "future GOAT contender."

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I'm not even sure where to start with Jumbo. I've seen what was on the AWA set and maybe a couple of matches from the 70s, but that's about it. It just seems daunting since there's a lot of him out there and a lot of really long matches too.

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I'm not even sure where to start with Jumbo. I've seen what was on the AWA set and maybe a couple of matches from the 70s, but that's about it. It just seems daunting since there's a lot of him out there and a lot of really long matches too.

 

If you want to start with the 90's:

 

5/26/90 Misawa/Taue/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Kabuki/Fuchi

6/8/90 Misawa vs. Jumbo

9/1/90 Misawa vs. Jumbo

9/30/90 Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue (Anniversary Show)

10/28/90 Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi

12/7/90 Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue (RWTL)

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

5/24/91 Kobashi vs. Jumbo

9/4/91 Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue

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

10/24/91 Kawada vs. Jumbo

11/29/91 Misawa/Kawada vs. Jumbo/Taue (RWTL)

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I'd start with the Choshu feud as there are fun & classic tags there as well as some shorter singles, and can then move onto the Tenryu series. As you get into Misawa you're basically also covering '90s AJ in general and can approach that how you like.

 

Not to mention the Flair world title match, which is an all timer, but at 45 minutes not where you want to start.

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Jumbo & Tenryu and Choshu & Yatsu had fifty million tag matches in a row. You'll confuse the poor boy. I'm telling you Matt, grumpy Jumbo is the Jumbo you will enjoy. Jumbo vs. Misawa is a narrative you'll be able to sink your teeth into. Plus you're all primed up watching so many trios of late.

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The only problem with starting with the Misawa matches is that the guy is so amazing in them it's going to seem very underwhelming by the time you get around to get to his 80's stuff.

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To be fair, the other upside of trios is that I can see a bunch of guys at once too. I think I'm going to start making an itinerary for myself next week.

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I'd watch 1/30/74 against Brisco (Jumbo was basically a rookie), one of the '77 matches against Billy Robinson, 5/22/84 against Kerry and 1/28/86 w. Tenryu against Yatsu/Choshu. Those will give you a sense of him at various points outside the Tenryu and Misawa and Co. feuds. There's obviously a ton more if you like those.

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The Brisco match on 8/28/76 is probably the best 70s Jumbo match. And yeah, if you like Jumbo on the AWA set, his work in the Misawa feud is in the same vein. I don't know if he learned how to be a heel in the AWA or if he was just a natural dickhead and didn't get a chance to express it until then.

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I'd start with the Choshu feud as there are fun & classic tags there as well as some shorter singles, and can then move onto the Tenryu series. As you get into Misawa you're basically also covering '90s AJ in general and can approach that how you like.

 

Not to mention the Flair world title match, which is an all timer, but at 45 minutes not where you want to start.

Doesn't the Flair match go an hour?

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I think the inconsistency of the 80's keeps him away from the top 10 but I'ma find a hard time finding twenty wrestlers better than Jumbo. As Ditch said, between those underwhelming matches there are all-time gems were Jumbo had a big part on making them great. And then you have grumpy Jumbo and everything comes together for him.

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Bit confused by what is being argued by Jumbo being inconsistent in the 80's. I havent seen every Jumbo match like the All Japan committee members but I have seen a ton of his matches that did/didn't make the cut.

 

Jumbo had an all time series vs. Tenryu that may be my pick of feud of the 80's for any promotion

 

He had another great all time tag feud w/ Tenryu vs. Choshu/Yatsu

 

He had the best match of the 80's for Kerry von Erich

 

He had an absolute classic match vs. Flair and it isn't like the 81/82 matches are chopped liver

 

He had great matches with Race (82), Misawa (88), Mil Mascaras (82) and Murdoch (80)

 

Very good series of stuff vs. Martel

 

The only two negatives I could see is his single matches vs. Choshu ( I do like the 1 hour draw but its about ***1/2 instead of the ****+ I was hoping for) and Hansen

 

With Hansen, I do think the 86 match is great and the rest of the series is at least good but again it seems like this is a knock solely on Jumbo. Jumbo and Hansen will probably be compared at points during this process so why does Hansen get a free pass for the series being disappointing.

 

I see Jumbo as a top ten lock for me and adore the guy. I don't think many are rubbing his face through the mud here but I don't want a sense of picking a safe pick, being a wrong one in completing this project.

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