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KinchStalker

[1982-10-08-NJPW] Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Bad News Allen & S.D. Jones

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[This is the beginning of a personal watchalong of the Fujinami/Choshu feud, which perhaps might widen in scope into Ishingun's original NJPW run. This is partially to fill a major gap, but I also feel like I should be able to comment on this feud in order to write about Jumbo/Tenryu, its AJPW equivalent that would manifest in a few years.]

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Above: a photograph taken during Fujinami and Choshu's postmatch spat. [Click on the image for its full size.]

The copy of this match on NJPW World is quite clipped, but the contemporaneous World Pro Wrestling episode broadcast it in full, and that's the version I watched. The match itself isn't essential, though it's thoroughly competent, but the angle within it is important. This is Choshu's return match from his second excursion, and from the start you can see tensions brewing. At the start he's miffed that he should be the one to start the match (while I've read that he never actually said this, the legend is that Choshu made comments that he wasn't Fujinami's "bait dog"). Fujinami and Choshu start arguing until the exasperated Fujinami tags himself in. The first part of the match sees the two refusing each other's tags, with Inoki having to step in and be the connective tissue.

This early part sees a 2+-minute stretch where the natives have Allen in a leg lock, as these tensions play out. Abby manages to break it up, but Choshu manages to catch the crawling Allen's leg and bring things back to square one. However, when he tags in Inoki, him and Fujinami get into it yet again, and the referee breaking it up buys the gaijin enough time to bail out their partner and take it to the face of the company on the outside. Inoki gets back in the ring in time, and when Fujinami's tagged in he quickly manages to get Allen back in the leg lock. He first reaches to tags in Inoki, but then brings in Choshu...only to SLAP him instead of give him the leg. Allen recovers and the gaijin maul Choshu until he can get Inoki back in. Abby gets Inoki in a chancery over the edge of the ring but Choshu breaks it up, and Inoki gets back to Fujinami. This shortly results in another spat between Choshu and Fujinami which sees another Fujinami slap. Fujinami ends up winning the match with a sunset flip to Jones as everyone else is brawling on the outside, but Choshu comes back in and snaps on him.

The gaijin hold up their end as well as you could expect them to, and this match fascinated me because, unlike what I've come to expect from AJPW tags of this time, the gaijin were not the ones doing control segments. I don't know if this was just because of the nature of the angle, or if that speaks to a broader difference in sensibilities between the promotions, but I found it oddly refreshing. The natives try to keep the gaijin under their thumb, but dissension in the ranks keeps undoing them. I guess this angle might've been more effective had the natives lost, and Jones dropping so quick after hardly having been in the match feels justifiable more by hierarchy than by narrative, but it kept the match tight.

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