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[1989-02-09-NJPW] Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami


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A more compact version of their June '88 match with a few of the same spots surrounding Vader catching Fujinami (i.e. the tumbling out of the ring on the crossbody). Again Fujinami looks pretty strong here, hitting suplexes and backdrops. This time when Fujinami slips out of the suplex attempt, he uses a sleeper to wear Vader down for the dragon sleeper. Vader also comes off the top rope with an avalanche before he creams Fujinami with a lariat for the win. Fun match. 

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  • GSR changed the title to [1989-02-09-NJPW] Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami
  • 3 years later...

Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami – 2/9/89

Fujinami is the current IWGP Champion, but this is non-title. This is about two months before the big Dome Show featuring the tournament for the IWGP Championship, which Fujinami voluntarily vacated for the tournament. Cagematch says Vader was with Brad Rheingains but it looked like Dick Slater to me?  In their first match, Fujinami got the surprise victory with a backslide.

Another good match between these two as Fujinami has to come up with different ways to try to fell the giant. In the previous match, it was all about quickness, in this match he went straight ahead at Vader. You see that early with the headlock. This left vulnerable to Vader’s natural strategy of inertia and power. Vader manhandled him over the ropes and just clobbered him with the big right. Is Vader the first wrestler to wear the fingerless MMA gloves? Fujinami gets in back suplex. Vader takes three slams/suplexes in this match. It goes back to the earlier point of what Vader could enable for his opponent to make them look like world-beaters because he was so athletic. Vader cements his advantage with a hotshot, which makes me drool at the prospect of Vader vs Jumbo Tsuruta around this timeframe. Vader hits those meaty lariats. I love it. I really dug how Vader charged into the feet of Fujinami and he just fought right through it. FEEL NO PAIN! Fujinami’s feet got stuck in Vader’s tights but Vader kept pressing. Fujinami got a whip into the railing and that gave him a breather. We talked about it in Vader vs Inoki III but Vader’s verbal selling is second only to Flair in how great it is. Vader caught Fujinami coming off the top into a wicked snake eyes on the top rope. Vader grabs a front facelock. Doing a great job peppering in the hope spots as Vader grinds him down. Fujinami reverses a suplex into his own! Wow! They do that spot where Fujinami crossbody blocks Vader over the top rope, a very athletic spot. Fujinami ATTACKS THE ARM! Shades of Vader vs Inoki III. He grabs the Fujiwara armbar! Vader muscles out and trips the leg. VADER BODY ATTACK! Only gets two. I love that when Vader feels threatened he immediately hits a big move and tries to pin. Fujinami slides down the back, sleeper, DRAGON SLEEPER! Another great “nearfall” for Fujinami, but Vader is just too much man! Vader hits one of those meaty lariats that knocks Fujinami out. Vader comes off the top rope with a Vader Body Attack for the first time! So impressive! Vader lariat for the win!

Great buildup for the big Dome show with Vader winning in dominating fashion. They peppered in the hope spots with the Armbar & Dragon Sleeper being the biggest, but this is the Vader Show. Either he is bumping like a madman to make Fujinami look good or he is clobbering him. Vader looked great on offense big slams, stiff lariats and the big top rope move. It’s Vader Time Baby! ***1/2

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