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[1954-12-22-JWA] Rikidozan vs Masahiko Kimura

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Decided to rewatch this and was startled at how tight and great everything before the finish was. While Kimura has the judo prowess, Rikidozan simply uses his strength to counter his attempted throws and submissions, easily shoving him away most of the time. Kimura's fear of pins is so refreshing-he immediately gets his shoulder up, kicks away and/or rolls to his stomach, no sign of even allowing a pin, let alone any counts. Kimura seemed to have a strong graps of selling-loved how he desperately fought off the headscissors and just recklessly threw himself out of them first chance he got. Rikidozan's offence may have been quite basic but there's nothing quite like hearing a gigantic thud made by someone bouncing off the mat, and I struggle to think of seeing anyone with better bodyslams than the ones Rikidozan executed here. There was some fun finisher teasing which the crowd bit on, especially when Rikidozan would go for his big Neck Chop, I totally bought into him making Kimura flinch. The finish somehow looked even more violent on another watch, it's basically a combination of Bas Rutten vs Funaki and Fujita vs Bob Sapp, you get the world's nastiest palm strikes combined with brutal soccer kicks, but even PRIDE didn't allow fighters to basically stomp someone on the back of the head. Of course the match is an amazing piece of historic footage, but the work rules too. ****1/4

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Rikidozan vs Masahiko Kimura - JWA 12/22/54 Inaugural Japanese Heavyweight Champion

The winner of this would be crowned the Inaugural Japanese Heavyweight Champion. I believe up until this point Rikidozan only exclusively worked foreigners mostly in tags. Kimura would sometimes tag with him as I watched clips of them against the Sharpe brothers. 

This is terrific old school pro wrestling. It felt more like a Greco-Roman wrestling match with all the stand up and waistlock. There was a great pure waistlock takedown by Rikidozan. You clearly knew who the star was and who was the better wrestler. They made no secret that Rikidozan was taking Kimura down at will. Headscissors, double wristlock (now known as a Kimura) and a bodyslam. There was a terrific Rikidozan deadlift into an Argentine Backbreaker that popped me. Rikidozan making Kimura flinch by threatening the overhand chop popped me. The finish was FUCKING BRUTAL! Kimura just stood there took some of the nastiest fucking head shots you'd ever see. It was black & white but you could see the bruises and welts forming. There were two Americans in the audience with massive 1950s cameras taking pictures and just lapping it up. Rikidozan tee'd off! Cool look into the past. I believe we got 11 minutes of a 15 minute match. ***1/2

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