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1970s New Japan

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Another foxhole:

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Jack Brisco (4/27/79)

This was billed as a dream match but there was no way you get getting an all-time classic. Not in a catchweight contest like this. It went less than 15 minutes but they made the most with the time they had. The finish was abrupt but I've seen bigger letdowns in dream matches. Not a bad exhibition match.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Masa Saito (5/25/79)

Holy crap was this awesome. We all know Masa Saito was a great worker but he could really go in his younger days. He was amazingly quick in this. Fujinami was such a beautiful worker. This period of his career was so graceful to watch. There were a few lulls in this but when they were active they went hard. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Tony Rocco (2/2/79)

Here we got to see Inoki take on the great Tony Rocco. Rocco was on a hiding to nothing here. He had no chance of winning but he wasn't going to die wondering and got as much offense in as he could. Which was great if you're a Tony Rocco fan. 

Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (6/1/79)

I thought we were going to get a really cool early Inoki vs. Fujinami match here but Fujinami came to the ring with a leg injury and Inoki called the match off. Then he demanded a match with Andre. The end result was Andre and Inoki tumbling about until Hansen ran in and there was a threeway schmoz. That Inoki/Fujinami match would have been fascinating.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Kengo Kimura (12/13/79)

This was a beautiful match between these two great rivals. It was done in the 70s light heavyweight style so it was different from their later encounters. Pretty to watch.

Antonio Inoki vs. Chris Markoff (11/1/78)

Not memorable like their JWA bout but watchable. 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ashura Hara (4/3/80)

Great match. Hara was such a good worker. Not only did he have a cool look, but he was tough as nails. This was technically excellent and a dogfight. Fujinami's face was covered in blood at the end.

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Antonio Inoki vs. Kintaro Oki (4/4/75)

These two had a really good match the year before. Here, Oki jumped Inoki at the start and won with a shock ring out. Disappointing that they went with an angle here instead of another proto shoot style bout but that's the downside to old-school Japanese wrestling. 

Animal Hamaguchi vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (11/5/81)

A fine match between these two but of course it was never going to resolve anything. Breaks down toward the end. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Stan Hansen (5/25/79)

This was all right. Hansen hadn't come into his own yet and Inoki wrestling foreign heels isn't my favorite kind of Inoki. Andre gets involved in the end and has a pull-apart brawl with Hansen. 

Strong Kobayashi vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (5/4/79)

This was a fun big man vs. little man bout. Fujinami was a right pest in this and Kobayashi made no bones about the little man being a pain in the ass.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Solitario (5/10/79)

Solitario has a reputation for being no that great but he was okay here. Fujinami was clearly better but Solitario was no slug. A few of their exchanges were awkward but other than that they gelled okay. Canek attacked Fujinami at the end.

Inoki & Fujinami vs. Saito & Ruska (7/17/79)

Fujinami and Saito were excellent again. That's a new favorite pairing of mine. This was a chance to see Ruska do pro-wrestling. He did some nice, uncooperative looking judo holds. He didn't have much of a clue about selling, though. The commentator kept mentioning Bock. I don't think you can underestimate the effect that the Bock match had on the wrestling public. Not much flow to this. The match didn't build well and it finished abruptly. 

Andre the Giant vs. Chuck Wepner (7/25/76)

Not really a New Japan match but it was on the feed. For the longest time, people have believed this was a legitimate shoot. I think it's pretty clearly a work. Fun match. Imagine a prime Andre working shoot-style matches like Vader. That would have been a blast.  

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Cool thread. All of the Fujinami matches I've seen from this period are interesting, even that Hamaguchi match had some nice matwork in it. Will check out Saito/Fujinami, which I had missed somehow.

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Andre the Giant vs. Stan Hansen (5/18/79)

Wildly disappointing compared to the classic we know and love.

Antoni Inoki vs. Crazy Leroy Brown (7/6/79)

This was bad. Really bad.

Antonio Inoki vs. Strong Kobayashi (5/16/75)

Strong Kobayashi was an interesting fella, wasn't he? You never hear anyone talk about him but he was a player in the early days of New Japan. From memory, these two had an interesting bout in '74 but Inoki dominated him here. Wasn't much of a contest. Don't know why.

Antonio Inoki vs. Killer Karl Krupp (5/16/75)

This was surprisingly good. I guess I have a soft spot for Nazi gimmicks, especially ones that extend into the 70s, but this was as straight forward as it gets. Krupp had his diving knee and his claw hold, and no matter how much he bled, he wouldn't stay down. He was maniacal and hell-bent on putting Inoki in the claw. This was the New Japan version of Fritz vs. Baba and I loved every second of it. 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Bob Backlund (8/5/82)

People have always regarded this as a disappointment, I suppose because it doesn't really go anywhere. But I don't really have a problem watching 25 minutes of guys working holds that never really go anywhere. I saw this as a superior version of Brisco/Fujinami and would include it on a list of Fujinami matches you should watch. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Left Hook Dayton (4/3/79)

This is some Game of Death shit right here. Dayton is everything you want from a 1970s kickboxer/martial arts practitioner. Dude looks like he walked straight off the set of a kung fu flick. A little research tells me that he used to offer a course in Chi Mind Control where he demonstrated how he could break handcuffs and survive a hanging. He couldn't survive Inoki's headbutts though or his backdrop suplexes. Weird fight, but I'll take this shit over a regular match any day of the week. 

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OJ, did you find Inoki vs Piper? it made TV and it is only 10 minutes. I did a cursory search and couldn't find it. I think it would be interesting. Going through Inoki's match listing, the other matchup that stood out to me was a one off against Pat Patterson. Have you seen that?

It is amazing how long he milked the Tiger Jeet Singh feud. I saw their first match and thought it was ok. Did they ever have a great one? 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Greg Valentine - NJPW 4/12/79

One of the sad things about this world is that The Hammer didn't work Japan more. I just typed "Tatsumi Fujinami vs" into Google to see what cropped up and saw this and said Hell Yeah!

Dream Match totally lives up to the hype. Stiffness to the max. Tons of great cat & mouse spots. Both dudes are super motivated. Very energetic and urgent. Valentine brutalizes and works the leg. Fujinami dishes it out as good as he gets. Valentine does Timbahhh and isn't afraid to stooge. FUJINAMI DIVES ON VALENTINE!!! AAAAHHHHHHH!!! And we get a clean finish! 

My only complaint is that this didn't go longer! Humdinger of a match! ****1/4

 

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13 hours ago, Superstar Sleeze said:

OJ, did you find Inoki vs Piper? it made TV and it is only 10 minutes. I did a cursory search and couldn't find it. I think it would be interesting. Going through Inoki's match listing, the other matchup that stood out to me was a one off against Pat Patterson. Have you seen that?

It is amazing how long he milked the Tiger Jeet Singh feud. I saw their first match and thought it was ok. Did they ever have a great one? 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Greg Valentine - NJPW 4/12/79

One of the sad things about this world is that The Hammer didn't work Japan more. I just typed "Tatsumi Fujinami vs" into Google to see what cropped up and saw this and said Hell Yeah!

Dream Match totally lives up to the hype. Stiffness to the max. Tons of great cat & mouse spots. Both dudes are super motivated. Very energetic and urgent. Valentine brutalizes and works the leg. Fujinami dishes it out as good as he gets. Valentine does Timbahhh and isn't afraid to stooge. FUJINAMI DIVES ON VALENTINE!!! AAAAHHHHHHH!!! And we get a clean finish! 

My only complaint is that this didn't go longer! Humdinger of a match! ****1/4

 

Is this on World?

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I haven't come across the Piper or Patterson match. I haven't watched a Singh match yet but I'm sure my curiosity will get the better of me.

Antonio Inoki vs. "The Monster Man" Everett Eddie (8/8/77)

This was supposedly one of Inoki's better mixed fights. I suppose that's because it was mostly stand-up fighting with a lot of action and movement. Inoki won after an awkward-looking powerbomb and a leg drop. It amuses me that this headlined Budokan.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Killer Khan (3/26/83)

If you've ever wanted to see Fujinami and Killer Khan have a long, hard-fought match, look no further. This was worth it just to see Khan work the mat with Fujinami. The long grueling battle afterward was the icing on the cake. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Hiro Matsuda (12/16/78)

This was either going to be mind-numbingly boring or fascinating. The latter prevailed and we got some really good work out of this, including one of the best arm breaker sequences I've seen in a long time. Saito and Ueda kept lurking about threatening to derail it, and they ran out of steam toward the end, but it was pretty much everything you could have hoped for from a unique encounter like this. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (3/19/83)

This was never going to live up to the expectations in my head but it was hard fought and intense. 

Antonio Inoki vs. Seji Sakaguchi vs. Killer Karl Krupp (5/8/74)

This was a three-way tournament final. Sakaguchi vs. Krupp was nothing special but set the tone for the carnage that would follow. Inoki's mutton chops were phenomenal in 1974. Inoki and Sakaguchi had amazing chemistry together. I bet that's something you didn't know. I might even go on record and call Sakaguchi Inoki's best native opponent. Krupp returns to bust Sakaguchi open and we get Krupp vs. Inoki, the Fritz vs. Baba of New Japan. It's not quite as good as their match from the following year but it's better than 90% of the Inoki vs. foreign dreck. 

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