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Stan Hansen vs. Big Van Vader

 

Don't have the date handy other than it being late-1990 early-1991. Barely five minutes in, and Vader's eye has swollen completely shut. In the States, that probably leads to them going home, but this goes another ten minutes or so before ending in a double count out. Fun brawl that even sees Vader throw a dropkick, which I haven't seen him do before or since.

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Watched Jumbo & Taue vs. Misawa & Kawada, 9/30/90. Wow. Just wow. Absolutely fantastic match loaded with twists and turns, mega heat, blood, and even a Kawada moonsault! Pretty much an all-out war for 45:00. My expectations were somewhat tempered by the fact that I hadn't seen a true classic from this tag pairing...and then they blow me away with a ****1/2 MOTYC. This stacks up quite nicely in the long list of must-sees from early 90s All Japan.

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Curt Hennig v Hercules 7-10-89 MSG

 

 

This was a really well worked match. Hennig made Hercules look like a million bucks.At one point in time Hercules was a solid worker. Of course Hennig was bumping like a super ball here. This really helped get Hercules over as a super strong guy so Hennig got Hercules gimmick over. Hennig was working over Hercules neck throughout the match. He heeled it up real nice in some of the rest holds.Rest holds in matches are important when they are used to help enhance the story, or to get heat. Resting to get rest is just lazy. Both these guys used rest holds to enhance the story.Hercules worked over Hennigs backs with knees,stomps, and bear hugs to set him up for his standing backbreaker. In one spot Hennig does his running neck snap on Hercules in the standing position, and Hennig sells his back on impact. This was a cool payoff to all the back work done by Hercules. Overall, a really good match. Hennig was one of the top 5 workers in the states at this point, and this match shows why.

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Guest Bruiser Chong

Summerslam '90

 

As a kid, I tended to avoid this because of the few prominent down notes (yes, I was a mark for faces all go over shows). The few times I've watched it in recent memory, I've noticed it showed all the good and bad of the company at the time.

 

The Good

 

- Tag Team Division: In my mind, the WWF's tag team division was in its last phase of greatness here. We'd seen its peak when the company was filled with so many notable teams the champions had an endless string of challengers.

 

With LOD appearing on the scene, the formation of Power and Glory, the reunion of the Hart Foundation, and the Rockers no longer being used as a mid-level team, the division had a fresh and exciting mix of possibilities. Of course, the Hart reunion was short-lived, P&G quickly became a JTTS team, and the Rockers had barely enjoyed the taste of credibility before they were torn apart. Once this wave of teams has passed, their replacements (i.e. Natural Disasters and Money Inc.) simply lacked the appeal that gave the division its luster all those years.

 

- Changing Times: Whether it was for better or worse, this show has a distinctly different aura to it than previous WWF PPVs. It could be the influx of wrestlers, shake-up in the food chain, or different announcing team. Whatever it is, things were different here and while they didn't lead to the best of storylines or programs, it had to be exciting to see changes being made to a product that had become stagnant.

 

The Bad

 

- Hulk's Still #1: Okay, so I know Warrior bombed as champion and Hulk in a sense wound up saving the day, but I tend to wonder how much of the Warrior's failures was his fault and how much was Hogan's. Make no mistake, the Warrior was a one-dimensional character who was finally exposed as such, much like Cena has been in recent months. But watching this whole show, you begin to wonder which part of the Double Main Event is coming first.

 

For Warrior supposedly being the top guy, we sure hear a lot about Hulkamania and whether it can stand up to Earthquake. It also had the most story built into it, where Rude/Warrior plays more like "well, I guess we need to have the champion fight someone."

 

- Sweet Sapphire Sells Out: This obviously set up the Dusty/Dibiase feud, but it still turned the match between Dusty and Savage into a backdrop. I'm not sure if that was the blowoff the feud, but if it was, it was a weak finish to a program that had encompassed all of 1990.

 

Some other notes:

 

- Power & Glory could've been more. I never much cared for Roma and Herc was into the phase of his career where he wasn't anything much in the ring. But in their formative months, the duo seemed to be one of those teams that were better off together than on their own. They complimented each other well and had one of my favorite tag team finishers. I would've preferred them over the Nasty Boys getting the rub, but I guess they weren't credible enough.

 

- Roddy Piper, as you?d expect, is an interesting commentator. Although a face through and through, he doesn?t try to hide his dislike for many of the faces throughout the show. He takes several jabs at the Duggan/Volkoff team, which flusters Vince, who?s trying to pass this duo off as something special.

 

His most interesting comments are during the main event. I believe I posted about it in relation to the Warrior DVD, but he hates him. The Warrior speaks of his right to the belt in his pre-match promo, which Piper tears to shreds during the intros. This was probably the viewpoint of many within the company during this period, since all accounts have the Warrior buying into his own hype.

 

- Hogan no-selling two Earthquake splashes. It only makes sense (going by what had been the norm) that Hogan is able to persevere and withstand the effects of his opponent?s finisher, but him popping right up after the second one almost makes it look silly. I won?t say it damaged the finisher, since it was still an effective one years after, but Earthquake suddenly doesn?t look like he?s on Hogan?s level.

 

The saving grace is that he won via count-out, an outcome which thankfully has Hogan jumping for joy, instead of acting like it?s not good enough. Had he gone over with a pin, I?d wonder how much damage it?d do to the guy?s durability at the top. As it was, this was his brush with the main event picture, as he?d go into a lackluster feud with Tugboat, before hooking up with him and forming the Natural Disasters a few months later.

 

Overall, it?s one of those PPVs that give you a good indication where the company was at during the time. We witness some of the recent changes, including the ones that didn?t pan out (i.e. Kerry Von Erich as the IC champion).

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Fantastics v Sting/Eddie Gilbert Mid-South/UWF date unknown

 

 

The Fantastics are the champions going into the match. They are so over in this territory. Actually everywhere I've seen them work they are over. They are the epitome of babyfaces. Sting was green as grass, but was developeing more w/o the Warrior at this point. It was a good match with all action. The guys only got about 6 minutes but they used them as best as they could. The match had tons of heat which was a staple of Mid-South wrestling.

 

Crowd heat is so important to me in a match. It can make a good match great, a bad match bearable. This is why imodo Wrestlemania V was hard to watch at times. The crowd was apathetic to everything. The Brainbusters/Strike Force match you could hear a pin drop. The Brainbusters was an awesome team at getting heat, and they got none at Wrestlemania. That hurt that match.

 

The Fantastics and Sting/Gilbert were working at a really fast pace. The finish set up the Fantastics for a series of rematches. The fans thought the Fantastics were screwed out of the title. The work wasn't spectactular, but it was good. Especially from the Fantastics,and Gilbert. Sting seemed a little lost, and clumsy. Though he did show some athletic ability.

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Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue (1/15/91)

 

A hidden gem among the mounds and mounds of great All Japan matches from the 90's? This match wasn't what one would expect. It was a hated-filled, bloody brawl, not a technical masterpiece that these two would have years later. Taue jumps Kawada before the bell and roughs him up on the outside, including clotheslining him over the metal barricade. Kawada pays him back by ramming Taue's head into the steel rail, busting Taue open. Later, Taue viciously goes after Kawada's knee with a knee crusher on a table and a steel chair attack. Eventually the match stays in the ring, as each man tries to flatten one and other with all manner of strikes. It was really quite an intense struggle, they managed to get the hate across even while in a simple achilles hold. This is how a brawl should be. Not two guys rhythmically exchanging loose punches for 20 minutes, but two guys clawing and grabbing and swinging at each other trying to pound the crap out of each other and get the win.

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Ted Dibiase v Tito Santana WWF from the Cow Palace in late 88 or early 89

 

This was a pretty fun match. The guys got around 12 minutes and had a good match. Dibiase was one of the great workers around this time, and Santana was pretty good also. Dibiase was working over Tito's neck,and back as the set up to the Million Dollar Dream. Tito was using the headlock to control match, and worked spots around the headlock. The psychology here was simple yet effective. The crowd was into the match. Both guys worked hard to get the match over. The finish was blah, but it furthered the Dibiase/Hercules feud that really didn't get Hercules over as a babyface like the WWF wanted. The more Tito I watch the more I like him. Sure he can be a little too much kick/punch stuff,but he sells well, has good timing, good psychology, and plays the underdog well. The problem being underdog babyfaces weren't pushed strong in the WWF in the late 80's.

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Nobuhiko Takada v Hiroshi Hase - NJPW 03/11/88

 

Wow. This match is absolutely amazing, and is now easily the best NJ juniors match I've ever seen, trumping Liger/Sammy from 04/92 and Otani/Sammy from 01/96. What I love most about this match is the meaning behind everything. NJ juniors matches often get criticized for having the first 5-10 minutes serve no grand purpose and containing mainly filler, but this match doesn't fit that bill at all, with Hase charging at Takada like a madman as soon as the bell rings, and Takada wrestling the first half of the match as the underdog. The structure of this match actually reminds me greatly of Hansen/Kobashi with the characterization being so strong and all the big offense being put over as being something of utmost importance. The crowd screaming for Takada to make his comeback is quite awesome. Liger/Samurai is the only other juniors match from NJPW that I think would work as a main event match on a show, but whereas that's more of the start of a journey (for Liger), this match is more the culmination of one (two great workers settling a score). I also love the booking style employed here - sure, we tire of ref bumps when they're used all the time, but this is the first ref bump I've ever seen in New Japan and it works really well, with Takada getting a moral victory, which plays right into what they're trying to accomplish.

 

I've watched tons and tons of Takada lately. The guy is amazing, and I could see a case for him being the greatest wrestler of all time, and that's not even including the strength of his work in UWFi, which I haven't even seen. When I first started watching him, I compared him to Maeda and found him favorable. Then, I compared him to his peers like Koshinaka, Kobayashi and Hase and found him favorable. Now, I'm starting to compare him to guys like Liger and Jumbo and while I'm still not sure how I feel about that, I can definitely say he doesn't seem out of place next to those guys. Things will change, as they always do with me, but at this moment, Nobuhiko Takada is my favorite wrestler.

 

I shouldn't ignore Hase, though. The guy is awesome because he does everything everyone else does, but does it in so much more convincing fashion than most of his peers. A takedown looks like a real struggle, he looks like he's trying to kill his opponent when he locks in a headlock and he's every bit as intense as Chris Benoit. He also understands the art of selling a match to the masses better than a lot of guys who are considered better than him. I've always liked Hase, but until a few months ago, he was just another good-great wrestler who wasn't really on my radar. He's now one of my favorites as well.

 

The more I watch, 80s juniors are starting to look far superior to 90s juniors overall. Don't get me wrong, Liger, Otani, Samurai, etc were great, but at times, with Liger probably being the exception, a lot of the guys in the division pigeonholed themselves too much into that style. It's easy to forget when watching Hase, Kobayashi, Takada, Koshinaka, Cobra, etc. that they're juniors and not headliners.

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El Hijo del Santo, Scorpio Jr & Bestia Salvaje v Negro Casas, El Dandy & Hector Garza - EMLL 11/29/96

 

This blew my mind, and is easily the best trios match I've seen thus far. Incredible heat, out of control brawling, tons of blood and Santo is out of this world, teasing walking out on the match to nuclear heat, sacrificing his partners when the technicos turn up the volume and still working in some great wrestling. Casas is awesome here too as someone trying a little too hard to pick his spots. Santo ends up catching him (and pretty much everyone in the arena) off guard with that dive outside the ring. Dandy is the most pure and virtuous guy in the match, and I like Hector Garza far more here than I have in any other match I've seen him in.

 

Everyone involved in this match rules, but make no mistake -- this is definitely the Santo show, and he's the main reason this is worth watching. Imagine if Hollywood Hogan - at the peak of the NWO days - was this amazing wrestler capable of putting on great matches and there you have Santo.

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Dump Matsumoto vs. Chigusa Nagayo (8/28/85)

 

This match was a major disappointment to me. The story and drama surrounding the match was so good, but the match itself was very short and the finish was very bizarre. It was a structured fairly typically, with the heel (Dump) beating the crap out of the face (Chigusa), and every now and then, Chigusa would reverse things for a short while. Chigusa ended up bloody, and being battered by a table and eventually KO'd by a ref count that wasn't easily understood. The postmatch scene was a lot more entertaining than the match actually. Lioness Asuka trying to save Chigusa from her fate, Dump gleefully cutting the hair and gloating to the audience. Crush Gal fans crying and screaming for Dump to stop. It was really quite surreal.

 

This is a good example of a match that draws emotion from the crowd, but not really because of anything that happens in the match. Chigusa and Dump were well-established beforehand, as was the match stipulation. The crowd knew this, and were amped from the get-go, even though the match really didn't deliver. I give Dump and Chigusa lots of credit for establishing their characters and hatred so well that they almost didn't even need to wrestle the match. The match wasn't all that good, and even if it didn't have to be, it's still disappointing to think of what might have been accomplished if it had been.

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Hennig v Bockwinkle 12-31-86 The Showboat

 

 

These guys had an awesome match here. Hennig played the young up and comer trying to unseat the veteran champion. These guys just sworked a really smart match. Hennig worked over Bockwinkle's arm with some really solid work. He used armbars, cross armbars, punches to the arm, and knees and kicks to arms mixed in with some arm drags. Bockwinkle used a headlock on Hennig early and worked spots around that. Eventually, Nick started working over Hennig's legs. One really cool spot was when Bockwinkle had him in a Figure 4 and seamlessley switched into an Indian Deathlock. Both guys were selling each others offense so well it helped make the match. Eventually Hennig is busted open in the last 10 minutes which helped the drama of the match. Towards the end of the match Hennig begins working over Bockwinkle's legs to set up the figure 4. Hennig has him trapped in it as time expires. This was awesome,awesome stuff.

 

4 1/2 *

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Guest Josh

Hennig v Bockwinkle 12-31-86 The Showboat

 

 

These guys had an awesome match here. Hennig played the young up and comer trying to unseat the veteran champion. These guys just sworked a really smart match. Hennig worked over Bockwinkle's arm with some really solid work. He used armbars, cross armbars, punches to the arm, and knees and kicks to arms mixed in with some arm drags. Bockwinkle used a headlock on Hennig early and worked spots around that. Eventually, Nick started working over Hennig's legs. One really cool spot was when Bockwinkle had him in a Figure 4 and seamlessley switched into an Indian Deathlock. Both guys were selling each others offense so well it helped make the match. Eventually Hennig is busted open in the last 10 minutes which helped the drama of the match. Towards the end of the match Hennig begins working over Bockwinkle's legs to set up the figure 4. Hennig has him trapped in it as time expires. This was awesome,awesome stuff.

 

4 1/2 *

Yes~. I adore this match, and their feud in general. This is just about my favourite hour draw of all time (haven't seen 10/95 Misawa & Kobashi vs. Kawada & Taue yet though). The work is so effective and smart. Instead of having to take lots of bumps to get people going, they had them into submission reversals and matwork in a big way just because the way they presented it was so awesome.

 

More people need to see this match.

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Chris Benoit vs. Fit Finlay - Judgement Day 2006

 

I watched this match the day after it originally aired, with, based on what I had read, the expecations that it was going to be a stiff, scrappy match. When I didn't get even close to that, I was disappointed, and it probably lessened my opinion of the match more than it should have. So I rewatched it today, with a clean slate and no specific expectations.

 

The story of the match was vaguely defined (ie. not told all that well). As far as I could surmise, the main story elements were Benoit's comebacks after being controlled for stretches. Neither the "dominant control" portions by Finlay nor the comebacks by Benoit were particularly well done. They were solid enough, there just wasn't that extra something in them that allows for a clearly defined story.

 

The wrestling style itself was something I'd seen many times in New Japan in the last few years, so I wasn't overly impressed with it. The matwork wasn't scrappy or hotly contested, nor were the strikes particularly stiff. The execution wasn't bad, it just wasn't even close to being good enough to gain any points.

 

The finishing submission hold was well fought for, but came out of no where. There really wasn't much work to the finish, and that's generally something I look for in a high quality wrestling match. What it all amounted to was a good match, that wasn't any better than what one might see in a really good RAW or Smackdown match. Maybe I've been spoiled by seeing so many recent matches in a similar style that exceeded this match, but I can't in good faith rate this particular match over those, just because the promotion this match took place in doesn't normally feature that wrestling style. ***

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After watching the Dusty DVD I decided to watch the Wrestling Gold set again. I still haven't watched this with the regular commentary because Meltzer/Cornette are just that damn good during this set.

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Guest Kevin Cook

Dump Matsumoto vs. Chigusa Nagayo (8/28/85)

 

This match was a major disappointment to me. The story and drama surrounding the match was so good, but the match itself was very short and the finish was very bizarre. It was a structured fairly typically, with the heel (Dump) beating the crap out of the face (Chigusa), and every now and then, Chigusa would reverse things for a short while. Chigusa ended up bloody, and being battered by a table and eventually KO'd by a ref count that wasn't easily understood. The postmatch scene was a lot more entertaining than the match actually. Lioness Asuka trying to save Chigusa from her fate, Dump gleefully cutting the hair and gloating to the audience. Crush Gal fans crying and screaming for Dump to stop. It was really quite surreal.

 

This is a good example of a match that draws emotion from the crowd, but not really because of anything that happens in the match. Chigusa and Dump were well-established beforehand, as was the match stipulation. The crowd knew this, and were amped from the get-go, even though the match really didn't deliver. I give Dump and Chigusa lots of credit for establishing their characters and hatred so well that they almost didn't even need to wrestle the match. The match wasn't all that good, and even if it didn't have to be, it's still disappointing to think of what might have been accomplished if it had been.

This reminds me of a review I wrote of this very match!

 

Dump Matsumoto vs. Chigusa Nagayo, 8/22/85

 

What a disappointment. The match starts off with Dump covering up for her lack of high-end, state of the art offense by choking Chigusa with a chain. There is a decent portion where Chigusa brings some nice counters to the table and Dump brings some high end, state of the art offense like a scorpion hold, but Dump insists on bringing the match down. She transitions using a fork (and later, a pair of scissors) with which she stabs Chigusa again and again, and Chigusa, after working in a nice payoff spot with her own scorpion hold, goes down into the gutter with her by banging her on the head with a metal box before the match falls apart entirely. After the match there's some sort of angle in which no one brings any state of the art, high end offense to the table. 1/2*

 

Annoyingly, the cameras kept panning to people crying in the stands. There may have been high end, state of the art offense somewhere in the portions where the cameras kept showing us people weeping because of this match, but probably not enough to bring the match up to more than the * range.

Also of one another poster wrote:

 

Negro Casas vs El Hijo del Santo 07/18/87 - Hair vs Mask, LA.

 

The first fall starts with some armdrags, hammerlocks, overhand wristlocks and armbars by Santo. Obviously they're setting up an arm-based storyline for this match, but after a short period that contained absolutely no high-end offense, Casas wins the fall with a Magistral Cradle out of nowhere, using the arm that had earlier been worked on, completely forgetting to sell the story of the match. In celebrating his win, he even did a back handspring and punched the air with his supposedly injured arm. rolleyes.gif

 

The second fall consisted of Casas working over Santo's neck with chops, dropkicks, snapmares and punches (although most of the punches missed their intended mark and hit the face). There was a particularly nutty moment where Santo's arm was draped over the bottom rope, and Casas grabbed it and twisted it around the rope, even though that had NOTHING to do with the story of the match. rolleyes.gif Once again there was no high-end offense brought to the dinner table. And Casas didn't sell his arm once. Santo made a comeback with a kneelift to the face, backdrop to the back and kick to the ass, before winning the fall with La Tapatia, none of which made any sense considering the earlier armwork. Santo also forgot to sell his neck.

 

The match really heads south in the third fall as Negro punches to transition. rolleyes.gif And it really degenerates into a spotfest, with neither man gaining a sustained advantage, or bringing any logical limb-based storytelling to the coffee table. There's just a series of 2 counts, none of which mean anything, before Santo wins with the camel clutch. So the match gains half-a-star because the finish obviously came from the earlier armwork weakening Casas' arm enough to get the hold on, and make him submit. But that was negated by them forgetting to tell that storyline properly for the duration of the match, and by the terrible selling by both men. rolleyes.gif

 

After the match, Casas finally remembered to sell his arm, as he was crying as his hair was getting cut off. Still, that was too little too late. 3/4*

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Guest teke184

Starrcade 1990

 

 

The match that's got me posting this is the Steiner Brothers vs. Mr. Saito and Great Muta in the finals of the Pat O'Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament.

 

 

In the match, the referee is a Japanese official who used to be the manager of Saito.

 

Paul Heyman makes a comment about it on the commentary, to which Jim Ross retorted "The only advice he had for him was to stay out of McDonald's", referencing the incident which sent Saito and Ken Patera to prison.

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Guest teke184

New Year's Revolution 2006

 

 

I ordered this from Deep Discount recently, so I'm actually sitting down to watch it.

 

 

The good so far-

 

Edge's angle

The Trish-Mickie James stuff

Maria interviewing herself

Benjamin-Viscera

 

The bad-

 

Sheldon Benjamin's mama

 

 

 

As usual, most of the show isn't that bad but there are a few things that make you wonder what drugs Vince and the writing staff are on when they come up with stuff like hiring a woman from Big Momma's House to play Sheldon's mother.

 

 

 

The Benjamin-Viscera match itself, though, is solid because Benjamin is showing psychology... working Viscera's leg and knee to take away Big Vis's wheels, which is the only way Sheldon could realistically compete with him.

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McMichael manages to ruin the announce team. Bischoff isn't as bad as I remember him being. He actually talked about Sabu, who debuted on this episode, winning the IWGP Junior Title earlier in the year.

 

This episode also reminded me of how much I hated the V.K. Wallstreet gimmick that Mike Rotunda had.

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I also downloaded a copy of Cactus Jack vs. Mil Mascaras at Clash of the Champions X. Nothing match but Cornette really sold Foley getting knocked off the apron and onto the floor like death. I really miss big moves actually having some meaning. Now falling off the apron is a transition move almost.

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I rewatched the Kobashi vs Misawa NOAH match from 03. Last time was about a couple of years ago.

 

This is so terrific. The fans, the drama, the heart, the passion, the hard hitting, the bumps, the moveset and a fitting "conclusion" to the saga of Kobashi vs Misawa. They wrestled the match just the way it should've been given the situation. A true torch passing the way it was meant to be. I love wrestling.

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Sting v Mike Rotunda - NWA 03/31/89

 

Ah, the first match on TBS to air from Center Stage! Crowd is rabid throughout, and for good reason, and this is an excellent match. Rotunda had the TV title for over a year at this point (not counting a brief Rick Steiner run), so they did everything they could here to create a big moment, containing both the blowoff for Rotunda as the long-reigning TV champ and Sting's first singles title win. Something like this really couldn't be duplicated today because title changes aren't as important and because no one as over as Sting would go nearly two years without even winning a belt. It also helped that Ricky Steamboat and Lex Luger, the top two singles champions, came out and stood in Sting's corner to ensure that the Varsity Club wouldn't interfere.

 

That sort of overbooking has swallowed matches whole in the past (think Flair/Sting at Bash '90), but here it worked, because the entire match was structured to foreshadow a title change and permanent end of a long run, and unlike Flair/Sting at the Bash, there was no 2-year plus build that seemed anti-climatic when all the focus was on all the antics at ringside. The focus never really leaves the ring here at all. This is like a better version of Rude/Warrior at Summerslam '89, since Sting is a better Warrior and Rotunda, when he was game, was as good as a motivated Rude. Rotunda's bumping is awesome, as he goes sailing to the floor when attempting a jumping lariat and even bumps off of a shoving match later on in the match, when Sting begins a pretty spirited comeback.

 

It's amazing to me how much heat they can get off of simple moves like a side headlock, just because of Sting's charisma and connection with the crowd. It's also pretty amazing how devastated the crowd was when Kevin Sullivan found a way to sneak past the babyfaces and interfere, making the crowd think they weren't going to see a title change at all. The kickout was a great moment, and even better was Rotunda actually attempting a wrestling move immediately after that and Sting kicking out of that as well. It was clear at that point that the cheating was no longer going to work. He had to outwrestle Sting if he wanted to win the match, and with Luger and Steamboat looming, there was no chance of getting himself DQ'd to retain. Once that reality sets in to the audience, the heat kicks into overdrive and Sting finally pulls off the win.

 

The wrestling is nothing breathtaking, but this is a textbook example of a match that accomplishes something decisive through basic stuff where the goal was to involve the crowd and foreshadow a title change. I can't even remember the last time a world title change got this kind of reception. Awesome match. I will pimp it to death when it comes time for the Crockett nominations at DVDVR.

 

****

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Here we are Loss, you said you wanted to see a match that I loved and here it is (If you still wnat to read it, after all that went down...)...

 

NWA Heavyweight Championship Jumbo Tsurata v Kerry Von Erich (AJPW 22/05/1984)

 

Really, really, good. The first fall is the weakest of the three, though not at all bad, and is necessary for build and to make the audience more involved with what was to come. Even then, it managed to be a decent fall. The quickly establish that Kerry has the speed advantage, and even though they don't play off it a great deal in the bout, it's always there. This fall is basically about Jumbo being one step ahead. Kerry gets the odd opening, but Jumbo's always got an answer, and never looks in trouble. He has the home crowd behind him, and takes real advantage of it, by out intimidating Kerry and showing him who the man really is. The action is a little stop start, and Kerry's selling is a little erratic, but the fall was a great setup for the rest of the bout.

 

The second fall is where it really gets going. Jumbo is just great at attacking Kerry straight from the bell, and busting him open pretty badly. Next is one of my favourite wrestling moments, where Jumbo is just repeatedly coming down with blows in the corner, with the referee helplessly trying to pull him off. Part of the reason this fall is so good is it gives me the ability to suspend disbelief. At the start of the fall, it's almost a given Kerry will win it and take it into a third. But as the match goes on, you find you don't know what's going to happen. Kerry is bleeding all over the place, and only trying desperation offence, and everything he does Jumbo once again has an answer for. It's so intruiging and entertaining. The Iron Claw is used really well to end the fall. It's hit out of desperation, and turns the match completely on its head, not only getting the victory, but weakening Jumbo for the rest of the match. Jumbo, who thought he had it in the bag, is now faced with an uphill struggle, and Kerry's work communicating his aggression and desire through his facials and the extended Iron Claw after the bell is top notch.

 

The third fall is likely the best of the three. There is great parrellelism at the beginning, with Kerry now in command and pounding on Jumbo with blows. They pull out yet another memorable moment, with a bloody Von Erich desperately trying to put the Claw on, and Jumbo desperately trying to escape it. Then, Jumbo starts to show his brilliance, in case you didn't already now. His vicious hand work is just so right for the situation. Firstly, it's brilliant in that it's focused, aggressive, sold amazingly well, and executed perfectly, both through his actions, mannerisms and facials. It's also great from a psychology standpoint: after all, the claw is the only move that has been able to do any damage to Jumbo in the match. It's simple, but it works. Don't discount Kerry's role in the match though, as he does more than enough to make sure this is a match to remember. After the hand work, it's just awesome, back and forth action. They bring the pinning sequences which they get spot on with their timing, and because of it act as legitimate nearfalls for the crowd. The finish is also memorable, the brawl on the outside, the backdrop on the floor, Kerry refusing to release the claw. This match had a few issues, like nearly all matches, but there is no doubting what a superb match it really is, and it isn't all just down to Jumbo either. Kerry's best ever match, and it's only a testemant to how great Jumbo was that he has several matches which rival this. Great emotion, drama, heat and action, one of my favourite bouts.****1/2

 

And some more stuff besides...

 

Stan Hansen v Dory Funk Jr. (AJPW 26/04/1984)

 

There is some good action packed in here, despite the lack of a coherent structure and story. In many ways, this is a clash between old school and new school. Dory, the ageing veteran, focuses his attack almost exclusively on holds, whereas Hansen weighs in with the hard strikes and relatively forward offence. They do a decent job of getting this over, though there are times when Hansen is on top wrestling, and Funk is striking and brawling his way to victory. Stan does an excellent blade job, though I'm not sure it was entirely necessary, but then again, it certainly lifted the match at a part where it was starting to drag, and added an intense element to the contest.

 

I enjoyed Hansen a lot more out of the two, as he tended to bring more to the table and put more effort into the match. Dory's work was good and suited his character, but you couldn't help feeling he wasn't exactly throwing 100% into it all. Unfortunately, a few sloppy moves do occur, the most noticeable being a piledriver in which it's blatantly obvious Funk's head doesn't hit the mat. They do some nice teasing of spots, mostly based around the spinning toe hold, but at times the match does seem to lack direction. The finish with the Brody run in was disppointing, but they more than made up for it and the earlier botch, with a sick Spike Piledriver delivered to Funk on the exposed floor. This is never a match that will be discussed much, as it is too middle of the road, but has sufficient quality and entertaining sections to keep the viewer entertained. ***

 

Jumbo Tsuruta v Rick Martel (AJPW 13/05/1984)

 

This wasn't a bad match, but given the workers, and the time they got, you felt it could have been a lot better. The referee didn't help matters: Gene Kininski looks like Earl Hebner compared to this guy. His slow counts ruin any potential near falls, and he seems to be doing his best to take your attention away from the match and on to him. Not that the match is all that riveting mind you. It lacks any real focus for the majority. As soon as somebody tries to take it somewhere, as with Jumbo and the arm work, the other guy soon finds himself back on offence, and it all lacks any real structure. Furthermore, they can't seem to sort out their face/heel dynamic. Initially, it seems that Martel is the face, which is backed up by the crowds reacvtion, but then he'll give Jumbo some sympathy selling or work a 4 minute headlock. At times the action also seems to drag a whole lot.

 

There are positives in the bout. The struggle for moves are always good, most noticeably in the case of Jumbo's armlock. Whatever they do, they put somethig extra into it: they don't just work the holds stationary, they tussle, crank them on harder and just generally work them. A younger Martel is far more athletic, and the points where he quickens the pace or probably the best of the contest. Jumbo is just Jumbo, with his facials and execution making ordinary moves look something different. This certainly isn't the most exciting match you'll ever see, nor does it have any sort of deep or meaningful storytelling and psychology. That isn't a major problem, but just don't go in here expecting an amazing match. It's a good match, but one that could, and in all honesty should, have been better. **1/2

 

Giant Baba v Stan Hansen (AJPW 31/07/1984)

 

This was a heated brawl that was way better than I thought it had any right to be. Baba is awfully out of shape at this point, and doesn't look like he can do much at all, but he actually turns in a good display. Of course, it helps that he's insanely over with the crowd, and that his opponent is as awesome as Hansen, but nevertheless, his display can't be discounted. He communicates and adds drama to the bout through his facials, and suprisingly brings a nice range of offence to the table. He's willing to take Hansen's big hits as well, which adds to the match in a big way.

 

It sounds like a cliche with 80's AJ by now, but the struggles for moves are once again excellent here. They also have the crowd in the palm of their hand, and there is so much heat for the bout which it badly needed to make it work. The brawling sections are brutal and entertaining, and for the stretch they pull out some believable near falls, and overall great action. While the selling throughout was generally good, I thought Baba could have sold the leg a little more towards the finish, especially with some of the vicious work Hansen did over it. As well, sometimes the offence switches between the two a little too freely. When sometimes it would be nice to see a better transition, given the fact that one of them may have been working over the other with a lot of offence for a few minutes, instead a small counter turns the tables instantly. Still, this really exceeded my expectations, and while it's no classic, it was a lot of fun to watch. ***1/4

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