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[1986-02-06-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Hey, look... it's two ultra charismatic dudes in a hot battle! This was exactly the kind of uncooperative high-resistance technical contest I like so much. Nothing fancy, just two guys who can grapple hitting the mat hard and battling it out. Give Inoki credit where it's true, there are not a lot of aces who could believably hang with Fujiwara in a match like this, let alone come across as the dominant force. When not on the mat, Inoki would constantly increase the pace by attacking Fujiwara with great looking punches and kicks. It's almost needless to say but Fujiwara's selling and was flawless and he had a ton of great facial expressions and thus came across as the most tenacious dude on the planet taking on the legend. Amazing how he can go from a smirking dick to that. Last few minutes were great with Inoki downing Fujiwara with an epic punch and Maeda taking offense to an Inoki kick leading to a near riot. But we still get a decisive finish, so it's all great. Hell of a thrilling contest and one of the finest 80s japan singles matches I've seen.


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I had this top 5 on the New Japan 80s set. Unfortunately I don't remember much about it specifically now. Is this the one where they kind of lie there having grabbed a kneebar and briefly start shit talking each other? Because I'm pretty sure they did that in a match together and it was awesome. I should re-watch this.

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One of my all-time favorite matches (had it No. 7 for the DVDVR vote) from one of my favorite periods in wrestling history. They had great chemistry together and this was their apex. I think I'm going to watch it tonight now that it's on my mind.

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Yeah, this was a pretty great contest with Inoki trying to hold his own on the mat with Fujiwara. One thing I really like about this match is how the suplexes look like a struggle to deliver, which adds more of an organic element to the match. I mean, Fujiwara powers Inoki over into almost a fisherman buster. Fujiwara holding his ground against Inoki's headbutts was great, and then when Inoki pisses off the UWF crew with that low kick. The final elbow counter to Fujiwara's headbutt was awesome, which leads to Inoki picking up the submission win via the sleeper.

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I am going to be the dissenting vote on this one and its a shame I like both. I may need to rewatch this at some point. I like a lot of parts of it but it didnt fully click with me. Still thought it was very good. 

Antonio Inoki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara - NJPW 2/6/86

I had very high expectations for this one. Two of the all-time greats clashing in what is considered a classic by many. Fujiwara throws the flowers in the stands. Maeda, Takada and Yamazaki are in UWF track suits. Like most Inoki matches this has the big fight feel, but has been amplified by the invasion aspect. Fujiwara slaps Inoki in the corner. Inoki returns in kind with some brutal punches in the corner and there is no break. The UWF guys are hollering at the ref. The match was uneven for me. I thought there were too many kneebar/leglock attempts that really went nowhere. It seemed to be Fujiwara's main strategy. I dont think they fully let Fujiwara be Fujiwara. Yes those great tenacious facial expressions were there along with a couple smirks, but Fujiwara is at his best when he is taking shortcuts and being entertaining. I would dare say this was a dry performance. I thought Inoki was quite fiery. I really liked him pressing the match during stand up with lots of big shots. That was kind of my issue those headbutts were gnarly but it was back to the kneebar. The butterfly suplex and get again only for Fujiwara to use a trip was great, but again back to the kneebar. There were things to like. I guess I didnt feel like the match really broke open the way I was hoping. I think it could benefit from a rewatch down the line (theres just too much to get too for the Greatest Match Ever Project so you gotta impress me on the first try). I thought the finish was great with Inoki hitting a controversial kick in the midsection. Fujiwara sold it low so the UWF guys flipped out while Fujinami is freaking out saying it was in the midsection. Great shit. Surprisingly it was not a Fujiwara trap as Inoki gets in the next blow. Fujiwara comes back with a series of headbutts so maybe was playing possum (but why take more punishment) and then Inoki hits with a MASSIVE FOREARM! Fujiwara sells like a champ. Inoki chokes him out for the win. To the surprise of nobody, Maeda cheapshots Inoki. Fujinami and Maeda brawl and a melee ensues. AMAZING POST-MATCH BRAWL! To set up all the NJPW vs UWF fun down the line. Did this one live up to my lofty expectations? No it didnt and that happens. It was still a very good match. I thought Inoki looked great on offense with lots of fire and zing behind everything. Finish was spectacular still looking forward to more UWF vs NJPW. ***3/4

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