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[1987-09-07-NJPW] Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami

Superstar Sleeze

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Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami - NJPW 9/7/87

This was during the brief shift in directions of New Japan booking in the Summer of 1987 as explained on Chris Jericho's podcast when they discussed the Inoki vs Saito Island Death Match and something also KinchStalker has discussed on here towards an Intergenerational feud. After Inoki won the inaugural IWGP Championship by beating Masa Saito, in the post-match Inoki aligned himself with the old guard of Saito, Sakaguchi and Fujiwara. While Maeda, Fujinami and Choshu became aligned. This led to some strange bedfellows and opponents. Typical Choshu & Saito would be aligned and Maeda would be aligned with his fellow UWF wrestler, Fujiwara. While Fujinami had serious issues with both Maeda and Choshu. The feud lasted it seemed about three months before it was dropped in favor of returning to Inoki vs Saito and Maeda shoot kicking Choshu in the Fall led to the second UWF exodus. 

A short sprint between these four as the main meat of this feud was in New Japan elimination matches. The highlight of the Fujiwara/Maeda segment in the beginning is the terrific Fujiwara hammerlock takedown and then hammerlock bridge. Inoki schools Fujinami on the mat with a rolling short arm scissors. The old guys have come to play. Fujiwara busts out his nifty get out of the Boston Crab trick. Fujiwara cracks Maeda hard across the face twice in the corner before tagging out to Inoki to the money pairing. Inoki absorbs some Maeda kicks and takes him down and applies an Inverted Deathlock. A fist fight breaks out in the Deathlock. Maeda shifts positions and full mounts Inoki and ground & pound. Inoki misses an Enizguiri and Maeda misses the Rainbow Spinning Heel Kick. Fujinami in and he snapmares Inoki into a sleeper. Maeda tags in and applies the Inverted Deathlock as a slap in the face to Inoki. Fujiwara cracks him with a slap to break the hold. Inoki tags out and Fujiwara vs Maeda is a brawl. Fujiwara kicks ass first, Maeda backs him in a corner and throws a wicked High Knee that Fujiwara sells like only Fujiwara can sell. Maeda pours it on with a Super Tiger like Kneedrop. Fujiwara tries to mount a comeback but Maeda quashes it with a kick to the injured side. Maeda lets Inoki tags in. Maeda hits first Spin Wheel Kick but Maeda ABSOLUTELY EATS IT ON A SPINNING HEEL KICK TO THE CORNER! He LAUNCHED himself into that INOKI ENZIGUIRI~! OCTOPUS STRETCH! Fujinami is forced to break it up. Fujinami in, but he misses a dropkick and an Enziguiri, but Inoki doesnt miss his! Ever since Maeda vs Fujiwara this match has been red-hot. Fujiwara vs Maeda. Maeda misses the Rainbow Spinning Heel kick again, but he kicks Fujiwara in his bad side and wins the match!?!?

Man this had a high trajectory, it was just getting good, but that abrupt finish makes it feel incomplete. Always great to see these four guys ply their trade, even Maeda is growing on me. ***1/2

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