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Superstar Sleeze

[1988-07-29-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader

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Antonio Inoki vs Vader - NJPW 7/29/88

Well this fucking rules! I watched this in 2017 I believe in an airport and never got around to writing a review but I remembered all the arm work, the gory bladejob and the fact that Vader sells his arm at least until April of 1989 as this is the Achilles Heel his opponent exploit for at least the next 9 months or so. It was no shock that this was fucking awesome! Vader is at his absolute best when he is doing his wounded bear selling and just hollering in pain. This match has that in spades. Oh just for some context, the win gets a crack at Tatsumi Fujinami for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. 

Vader tries to be all intimidating early but spends too much time worshipping his steam-spewing elephant helmet and gets caught with an Enziguiri to the head. They brawl on the outside but Vader regain controls quickly against the railing. I rewound a bunch but I never saw where Vader actually hurt his arm, but back in the ring Vader is favoring his left arm. Inoki relentlessly kicks it and does the over the shoulder armbreaker. Vader try as he might to overwhelm Inoki with his girth, the splash in the corner and then the massive Vader Body Attack into an immediate pounce pin were brutal but Inoki keeps coming back. Inoki is laser-focused on that arm. Vader tries to slow things down with a Surfboard but Inoki counters that again into an over the shoulder arm breaker. Vader is one of the all-time great sellers. We talk a lot about his bumping, but Vader is a top ten seller of all time. Vader tries the bearhug, but ends up eating a dropkick, bodyslam, Bombs Away Kneedrop offensive rally that was awesome. Vader tries to hold Inoki in a sitting abdominal stretch and just mercilessly punch Inoki right in the fucking face, but nothing will stop Inoki on this night. It was disturbing watching Vader punch him right in the face unprotected. Inoki barely flinched. Insane! Crowd is going crazy for Inoki. Inoki goes right back to the over the shoulder arm breaker. Tried & true! Vader hollering is just the best. Vader slugs Inoki to get out. Inoki backdrops him over the top. Back where this all started on the floor. Vader tries to kill Inoki with his metal staff gimmick, but clangs it against the post. Inoki gets a hold of it and jabs Vader's bad arm with it and of course VADER BLADES HIS ARM! He is bleeding a gusher and selling it like his arm is paralyzed in a fucked up position. I love Vader. Vader gets in and in the ropes Inoki Enziguiris the bad arm! I LOVE Inoki! More kicks to the arm. A shitty Octopus Stretch because Vader is so big. Vader powers out but still selling his fucked up arm. Vader bodyslam and he is going up top. Inoki catches Vader into a straight armbar to get the submission victory! Bitchin' finish! There were some transitions that I would liked tightened up and some of Vader's holds dragged, but besides that this was FUCKING AWESOME! Vader selling like a wounded bear, Inoki's offense laser-focused, Vader comeback offense was brutal and awesome finish! ****3/4

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