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[1984-02-26-AJPW] Jumbo Tsuruta vs Nick Bockwinkel

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AWA World Heavyweight Champion Jumbo Tsuruta vs Nick Bockwinkel - AJPW Osaka 2/26/84

 

This is the oft-forgotten about rematch from the same tour that Jumbo initially won the title. There is a reason it is forgotten, it turns out. :) I had every intention of rewatching Jumbo's title victory, which I really liked, but I just selected the Jumbo vs Bock match from February 1984 without paying much heed. In retrospect, the fact the match was in Osaka and it did not begin with a Jumbo cross-body should have told me I was watching the wrong match. In my defense, Terry Funk was also the special guest ref in this match, which added to the confusion. If you ever wanted to see how Bockwinkel did in a spotfest well now we know because this was just all over place. Now understanding this was the rematch does at least explain Bockwinkel's aggression from the outset. He had a challenger's mentality. I love that about 80s matches. It is not married to the babyface/heel dynamic, but instead lets the circumstances dictate people's strategies. The majority of Bockwinkel's matches you will see are him as champion. He is calm looking to execute his strategy, but he is not the aggressor. He is waiting for the opponent to make the mistake. As the challenger, he can't afford the same luxury and he needs to take it to Jumbo. Bock is content in the early part to control the head and whenever Jumbo looks to break he grabs some hair. He rams Jumbo's head into the turnbuckle twice, but Jumbo gets wise on the third attempt and shoves him off. To preserve his advantage, Bock hits a quick piledriver, but too close to the ropes and Jumbo powders. At this point, they seemingly just trade moves willy-nilly. It is all action so it is entertaining don't get me wrong, but does not leave a lasting impression. Jumbo hits his high knee, his Thesz Press and gets revenge with a piledriver of his own. Bock hits a sick drop toehold (Im such a mark for that move) and even puts Jumbo in his Boston Crab. We get a short King of the Mountain and Jumbo fires up (take that Jumbo haters!) and the crowd is rocking now. Jumbo puts him in the Boston Crab! Bock gets a quick uppercut to the balls. At this point, the match actually gets really good and is of the caliber that I have come to expect of their matches together. Bock chucks him out and then hits a brainbuster. Bock is finally showing some emotion and he is incensed. Throws him out again, now into the post, he beats him down on the apron, but Jumbo's leg gets caught in the ropes and he relentlessly stomps it and Funk has to pull him off multiple times. Bockwinkel applies the figure-4; Jumbo is fighting and they tumble to the outside. Bock won't let go and gets an Indian Deathlock. Bock tries to make it back in the ring and Jumbo pulls him down for the double countout. Really weird finish. It makes total sense when they pull that shit with Flair or Bock as the champ forcing the double countout. Jumbo as the babyface pulling that shit is just weird. Did they really need to protect Bock? Bock had been champion for years in Japan, I don't think a couple clean jobs would hurt him. Plus, Bock did not even get the belt back so there was no rematch to protect. The stretch run was really, really good, but the rest of the match was all over the place with each one not really taking time to sell (Jumbo was selling better than Bock). I have seen plenty Jumbo vs Bock and this is the least of their matches to me. ***

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