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[1989-04-24-NJPW-Super Powers Clash] Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami


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Semi-final of the one-night IWGP Heavyweight Title tournament. This is a pretty good much but Fujinami looks way too overpowered against Vader. I like that Vader is able show off some subtle additions to his power template (the hammerlock takedown, the drop toe hold). Fujinami gets in quite a bit of offense before Vader rocks him with a perfectly sold lariat. Fujinami stays on the arm for most of the match, looking for the armbar, which plays well into the final against Hashimoto. When Fujinami tries rolling him up, Vader squashes him and hits his running splash for the win. 

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Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami - NJPW 4/24/89

Vader had been in New Japan less than two years at this point but what a veteran performance from the Mastodon. As I mentioned in their match from February, which Vader won, Fujinami vacated the IWGP Championship ahead of this Tokyo Dome tournament. This is a semi-final match and to my understanding the personal series is 1-1.

Absolute classic Vader performance the domination but the feeding for Fujinami to keep the match balanced. The amazing verbal selling. This is peak Vader. He is in there with a man argue as the GOAT but you can take your eyes off Vader. Vader smokes Fujinami early with a back Suplex on a headlock attempt by the Dragon. Fujinami sells well. Vader is using his mass to dominate Fujinami just big shots and muscling him around. He is talking so much shit. It is glorious. But he feeds Fujinami too: a vertical Suplex and a dropkick that Vader takes a back flip over the top rope. Vader is such selfless wrestler. Back in test of strength, Fujinami uses two hands on Vader's one. Vader gets a Drop toehold and a beautiful one at that. Vader rules! Vader is just dominating and Fujinami looks out of options. Vader just clobbers Fujinami in the corner. Fujinami fires up with big strikes of his own just as he gets the Mastodon reeling he goes after the injured left arm. I have seen this match before and liked but seeing Vader vs Inoki III really enhanced this viewing. You can still see the scar from Vader vs Inoki III on his arm. It shows how important context is. Vader gives a masterful performance. Hollering in pain immediately as Fujinami wrenches into a cross armbreaker. The way he immediately goes into offense like a wounded bear is great only to feed Fujinami a Suplex. 1-2-Vader powers out and out to the floor. He chose flight that time in fight or flight. Back in the ring, Fujinami goes right for the left arm. Top wrist lock and Vader bellows "Goddamnit". Vader with a nasty, powerful arm drag takeover. Mack Truck Lariat! Watch Fujinami's sell so damn good. It is Vaders power vs Fujinami attack on arm. He gets more kicks in but as he falls back on a cross armbreaker he triggers a rope break. Vader is able to smash him. HUGE VADER BODY SPLASH IN THE CORNER! Vader goes for a second misses. Armdrag! Dropkick! Bodyslam! Fujinami up top. Vader catches him hotshot. Vader looks to go for the kill but lariats the steel post with HIS BAD ARM! Fujinami throws Vaders bad wing into every steel object he can find. Back in he is fist pumping as the Dome roars. Fujiwara Armbar! You can actually buy this nearfall for Fujinami but Vader muscles out. Fujinami makes the boneheaded decision to sunset flip Vader. Dumb dumb dumb. Vader squashes him. Fujinami sells the hell out of it. Vader splash 1-2-3.

Vader ruled in this. He is at his best when he plays Wounded Grizzly Bear. Vulnerable but incredibly dangerous. The arm was super effective in creating drama. You can see Vader desperately trying to end the match as soon as the arm psychology kicks in but can never string enough moves together. You really bite on that armbar. As soon as Vader squashes Fujinami he hits a splash and collects his win. Awesome pro wrestling really enhanced once you know the story behind the arm psychology. This is Vader 101 should be seen to understand why he is one of the all-time greats.****1/2

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  • GSR changed the title to [1989-04-24-NJPW-Super Powers Clash] Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami

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