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[1996-07-17-NJPW-Summer Struggle] Ric Flair vs Shinya Hashimoto


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Flair's challenging for the IWGP title for what may be the only time--the second of two "this actually happened" matches on the same July 17 card. And like the first match, there isn't much to this besides the novelty of seeing these two together. Flair busts out every cheap-heel move he can in this setting, and Hash does do a great over-the-top sell of an eye poke (as does the announcer: "THUMB! THUMB! HASHIMOTO BULAINDO!"). Lots of Hash doing the Sting no-sell of Flair chops, too. Both guys try hard but the ending is too sudden and Flair is simply too past it to consistently make it in a Japan setting now.

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  • 2 years later...

You know what, Pete, I actually dug this quite a bit. Flair doing an out and out American heel act in Japan against the ultimate asskicker was fun as hell.


IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto vs WCW US Champion Ric Flair - NJPW 7/17/96


I think Randy Savage vs Jushin Liger, yes Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs Jushin "Thunder" Liger still takes the cake for holy shit that happened match, but this is pretty amazing. Flair's last big time match in Japan after a 15+ year run as a big time American wrestler over there. Challenging for the biggest title in the world in my estimation as New Japan was really firing on all cylinders at this point. I think they could have done something really special as late as 94 with the sweet spot being 90-92 for these two, but I still thought this was fun. This was not 80s Flair in Japan, Flair was going all Flair and giving Japan a taste of America. Wooos, Flair Flops, Hollering on knucklelocks, begging off. To his credit, I thought this played really well in front of the Japanese. I thought Hashimoto was a bit tentative to start and the hollering on the knucklelock caught him off guard. But the temper tantrum Hashimoto throws after the drop toehold, shows that he gets it. It is time to wrestle American. To Hashimoto's credit he goes all in. When this turns into Flair/Garvin 2.0, this is glorious. Some of the best flesh on flesh smacking around. Hashimoto DESTROYS Flair with these overhand chops. I mean WOW! These are huge. Flair beg off and then eyepoke is great. Chopblock. Flair worked the knee really well like way more focus than usual and I thought Hashimoto really sold well. Flair's figure-4s were over especially since Mutoh/Takada really established that as a killer finish. Hashimoto fiery Ronnie Garvin like comeback with Flair selling and bumping was great. The DDT was an out of nowhere finish just it was getting good. I thought this was a really fun Flair as an over the top American heel vs the Japanese asskicker. ***1/2

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-07-17-NJPW-Summer Struggle] Ric Flair vs Shinya Hashimoto

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