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[1987-12-27-NJPW] Keiichi Yamada vs Masaharu Funaki


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Here we have a matchup of two guys who would go on to bigger and better things. Yamada would go on to become Jushin Liger while Funaki would change his first name to Masakatsu and become a pioneer of MMA in Pancrase. At this point, however, they're just a couple of young lions toiling away in prelims. This is a pretty basic match built around a contrast of styles-Funaki wants to establish separation so he can throw his kicks while Yamada would prefer to stay on the mat. The biggest highspot for most of the match is Yamada powering out of a triangle choke. There is some questionable no-selling toward the end. Yamada goes for the shooting star press but gets tossed off the top rope like Ric Flair. He then pops right back up so Funaki can dropkick him out of the ring and hit him with a tope. Yamada wins with that double leg clutch hold that I'm sure has an actual name.

 

Given the huge angle that was planned for the main event (this is the show where a debuting Big Van Vader would beat Antonio Inoki in three minutes, causing a riot that would lead to New Japan being banned from Sumo Hall), these two clearly weren't setting out to steal the show, and they didn't. To be honest, given the trend toward maximalism in modern wrestling, I found the lack of ambition rather refreshing. They stuck to the basics and executed well without overstaying their welcome, so there's nothing to complain about. This isn't a substantial addition to either man's legacy, but it's nothing to be ashamed of either.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1987-12-27-NJPW] Keiichi Yamada vs Masaharu Funaki

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