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Jeff Bowdren's Top Matches of the '80s list


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Here's the list (lifted from George Mayfield's old site) with Jeff's comments from the 1989 WON yearbook. As the DVDVR '80s project picks up steam again, I figured it would be worth looking over again. I'll reply w/ my questions/comments/etc. in another post.

 

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I tried to pick the top 20 in order, but before that I have 80 matches listed in no particular order. Where ever possible I ll list the date and site of the matches. Almost all of these matches are available on videotape. Any true wrestling fan owes it to them selves to at least try and witness them.

 

Riki Choshu vs Killer Khan (7/31/86, Tokyo, Japan) This was a brutal Texas Death Match that ended a feud between the two that had gone on for several months. Khan bled buckets. This was when Choshu was at the top of his game.

 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka (2/5/87, Tokyo, Japan) This was the best match of the many matches between these two. The thing I remember best is that Koshinaka kept working on Takada s broken fingers.

 

Bull Nakano & Candor Saito vs Dump Matsumoto & Yasuko Ishiguro (10/86) What a brawl. Chigusa Nagayo attacks Dump before the match even starts, to gain revenge for Dump attacking her earlier during a concert, which set up their hair vs hair match a month later. When the match starts, Bull & Candor, who are normally Dumps allies, attack her like sharks going after a wounded animal and Dump is in the rare position of being the babyface. Nunchakus, gasoline cans, chains, scissors, you name it. This match had a little bit of everything.

 

Crush Girls vs Yumi Ogura & Kazue Nagahori (1/4/87, Tokyo, Japan) This was the 1st time Asuka & Nagoya had teamed in several months and showed they were still just about the best tag team in any promotion. The crowd reaction was just incredible.

 

Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka (3/20/87, Tokyo, Japan) One reason this match was so great, besides the super work in the ring, was the finish. Koshinaka & Mutoh scored the big upset and won the IWGP World Tag Titles.

 

Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody (9/16/85, Tokyo, Japan) These two had several classic meetings, but this match went to a 60-minute draw. Brody was at his best here.

 

Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (5/25/87 in Sendai and 9/1/87 in Fukuoka) These four guys just beat the hell out of each other in these two matches The 1st match was a successful title defense for Maeda & Takada. The 2nd match was the upset title change with Yamazaki pinning Takada out of nowhere after Takada had seemingly kicked his brains out. I liked the 2nd match a bit better, maybe because of the finish but both matches were classics.

 

Satoru Sayama & Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/23/84, Tokyo, Japan) This was a combination of UWF and New Japan styles and the UWF wrestlers were starting to go their own way, but still incorporated high flying and high spots in this match. Brutal, but excellent.

 

Crush Girls vs Bull Nakano & Condor Saito (10/6/87) This match was the best one of the Crush Girls Chigusa Nagoya vs Dump Matsumoto (11/7/86, Osaka, Japan) This was a hair vs hair match. It was actually the 2nd hair vs hair match. Two years earlier Dump had come out the winner of that match and Chigusa had to suffer with short hair for several months. This was the better of the two because of the blood content. Chigusa bled buckets this time. Not for the weak of heart.

 

The Cobra vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/2/84, Tokyo, Japan) This match had me constantly jumping out of my chair and looking for the rewind button. Kobayashi gave Cobra a back suplex off the top rope and the Cobra returned the favor by suplexing Kobayashi from the ring apron backwards into the audience.

 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (4/3/83, Tokyo, Japan) This is where Choshu won the International Title and was the best of many famous matches these two rivals had before big crowds in the two different time periods they feuded.

 

Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (12/11/87, Tokyo, Japan) I was watching this match from the front row. It was just brutal the way these guys were pounding on each other for 29 minutes. It was the 2nd best match I saw on my Japan trip.

 

Chigusa Nagoya, Yumiko Hotta, Mika Suzuki, Yachiyo Hirata & Mika Takahashi vs Lioness Asuka, Mika Komatsu, Kazue Nagahori, Mitsuko Nishiwaki & Etsuko Mita (12/5/87, Tokyo, Japan) This match was truly unbelievable and unlike any match I ve ever seen or likely will ever see again. Dave Meltzer agreed that it was the greatest wrestling match he ever saw live. It was 50 minutes of non-stop action and high spots. I ve never seen a crowd go through so many emotional peaks and valleys in a match. The crowd noise was deafening from start to finish. Definitely the hardest working crowd as well.

 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiroshi Hase (2/4/88, Osaka, Japan) I was at a tape get together at the end of 1988 to choose a match of the year. Most of the people there chose this match.

 

Keiichi Yamada vs Hiroshi Hase (2/5/88, Tokyo, Japan) Do you realize Hase had 2 five star matches on successive days, in different cities, with different opponents?

 

Jumbo Tsuruta vs Tiger Mask (3/9/88, Yokohama, Japan) This match contained the best five-minute period of wrestling of 1988. Unfortunately, the match itself went 15 minutes, but the last five minutes were so great it was enough to make this list.

 

Owen Hart vs Keichi Yamada (6/10/88, Hiroshima, Japan) This was during Hart s brief tour as IWGP Jr. Champ. Hart was defending the title in Yamada s hometown, which added to the heat. Hart tried to wrestle a Flair like style of making his opponent look good, combined with his normal acrobatic style.

 

Genchiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Jumbo Tsuruta (8/28/88, Tokyo, Japan) This was the Main Event of the Bruiser Brody Memorial Card. Just a brutal slugfest with the four guys just beating the hell out of each other.

 

Owen Hart vs Shiro Koshinaka (6/24/88, Osaka, Japan) This match took place two weeks after the Hart-Yamada match and was every bit as good. The fans sound like they re going to bring down the house down at the end of the match. Hart was originally supposed to keep the title here except he told Masa Saito that he was going to the WWF and the plan had to be changed.

 

Satoru Sayama vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (12/5/84, Tokyo, Japan) This was a UWF match. Dave Meltzer saw it live and said it may have been the most brutal and realistically violent match in wrestling history. The kicks Sayama threw at Fujiwara had to be seen live to be appreciated. It appeared more severe than blows in boxing or kickboxing.

 

Foot Loose vs Shinichi Nakano & Shunji Takano (7/19/88 & 9/20/88) These two matches had the best four young workers in All Japan. They were roughly on the same level as the Midnight Express vs The Fantastics matches in the U.S. during the same year.

 

Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (8/8/88, Yokohama, Japan) This was the long awaited match-up between the teacher and the student. To the surprise of almost everyone, Inoki, who was not in the best shape at the time, went a great 60 minutes with Fujinami. This was the match that secured the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for Fujinami in my book in 1988. It was the best match of his career and carrying Inoki for 60 minutes to a classic match was his crowning achievement.

 

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Don Nakaya Nielsen (7/31/88, Tokyo, Japan) This was my personal choice for Match of the Year in 1988. There was a genuine aura of real violence when watching this match. The funny thing is that Fujiwara s UWF buddies were watching the match in the dressing room and laughing. They found the whole idea of Fujiwara getting pounded on by Nielsen as funny. They thought Fujiwara could have taken him apart at will had it been a shoot.

 

Jumbo Tsuruta vs Genichiro Tenryu (6/5/89, Tokyo, Japan) This match just narrowly missed being on the Top 20 list. This match had a classic aura about it. You knew going in that it was going to be one of those matches people would be talking about for years and it more than lived up to that billing.

 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Yatsu (4/19/84, Tokyo, Japan) This was the match that introduced Takada as a budding superstar to the wrestling world. It contained more hot moves in the last eight minutes than during most 60-minute matches.

 

Nobuhiko Takada & Shiro Koshinaka vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Keiji Mutoh (11/24/86, Sapporo, Japan) What made this match so great is that it was never suppose to happen. Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka were suppose to team together in the New Japan Tournament, but Brody and N.J. had a falling out before the tour ever started. Takada & Koshinaka, neither of whom was originally scheduled to even be on this tour and were bitter rivals, were thrown together at the last minute and wound up being far and away the best team in the entire tournament. These two never teamed again after the tournament. Fujinami & Mutoh were the second best team in the tournament.

 

Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka vs Dory & Terry Funk (12/12/81, Tokyo, Japan) This was the match where Stan Hansen made his All Japan Pro debut. He gave Terry Funk a clothesline from outside the ring to ruin the finals of the annual Tag Team Tournament. One of the most famous matches in Japanese Wrestling annals, and I agree.

 

Dynamite Kid vs The Cobra (7/5/84, Tokyo, Japan) A friend of mine who s a wrestler, and has had a chance to see every big match from all over said that this was one of the greatest matches of all time, so I m not about to argue.

 

Riki Choshu, Animal Hamaguchi & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Akira Maeda, Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura (12/8/83, Tokyo, Japan) This was, arguably, the best six-man tag team match of the decade. All six guys were at their peak and this was the best match of the famous Ishingun vs Seikigun feud.

 

Tiger Mask vs Pirata Morgan (12/8/84, Nagoya, Japan) Great match between two of the greatest flying wrestlers of this era. Dave Meltzer wrote in the 1984 yearbook that it was the fastest paced match he d ever seen live.

 

Jumbo Tsuruta vs Genichiro Tenryu (10/28/88, Yokohama, Japan) It s hard to believe that when Riki Choshu jumped from All Japan back to New Japan, Baba didn t want Tenryu to feud with Tsuruta. Tenryu forced the issue if he couldn t turn heel. The rest is history. The Tenryu vs Tsuruta feud was the best thing All Japan has had for the last several years and the promotion doesn t seem like it was hurt by Choshu s jump. This match will probably be overlooked in the future because of their June match of this year, but it was still a great match.

 

Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody vs Dory & Terry Funk (12/13/82, Tokyo, Japan) These four had a lot of matches that could make any list of this type. They had many great ones, but in my opinion, this match, the finals of the 1982 tag team tournament, was the best of the lot.

 

Chigusa Nagayo vs Lioness Asuka (5/85) These two have had many classic encounters, this just happened to be one of them.

 

Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano (7/13/89, Tokyo, Japan) This is the match which started the feud and got both men over big in Japan. Some may disagree, but I liked this match better than any of the other matches they ve had thus far.

 

Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu ( 12/2/86) Terry Funk, who was on tour at the same time said it was the best wrestling match he d ever seen. These four went to an incredible 30-minute draw.

 

Crush Girls vs Jumping Bomb Angels (3/20/86, Tokyo, Japan) This match saw the Crush Girls regain the WWWA Tag Team Titles that they had held several times previously in a two out of three fall match.

 

Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano (9/20/89, Osaka, Japan) These two are probably destined to give us the match of the year in 1990. Best move of the match Liger doing a back flip off the top rope and splashing onto Sano, who was on the floor.

 

Akira Maeda vs Don Nakaya Neilsen (10/9/86, Tokyo, Japan) This match will always be remembered as the greatest mixed match ever. Neilsen sure was the best non-wrestler ever to be in mixed matches. Maeda was supposed to get destroyed while Inoki triumphed over Leon Spinks in the Main Event on this card. Assuming that Leon Spinks had a brain was one of the biggest mistakes Inoki ever made.

 

Dory & Terry Funk vs Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (8/31/83, Tokyo, Japan) This was Terry Funk s original retirement match in Japan. The retirement didn t stick, but the memories did.

 

Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito (4/27/87, Tokyo, Japan) This was the best of their series of matches with super heat and it showed just how good Saito could be in carrying Inoki. But the best part of the match was afterwards as Fujinami helped carry Saito away from the ring and Riki Choshu slapped him, rekindling their famous feud.

 

Satoru Sayama vs Dynamite Kid (9/2/82 @ Madison Square Garden) Many people consider this the greatest wrestling match ever held at the Garden. When these two small guys, neither of whom had ever appeared in the Garden before nor were they ever advertised to be there, got in the ring, everybody went to the popcorn stand. Those that stayed got the treat of their lives as within five minutes the entire building was on it s feet with more heat and intensity then the Garden has had for all but the greatest of grudge matches since that point.

 

Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat (3/18/89 @ The Capital Center) You could probably make a case for 100 matches between these two as the best of the past two decades. This match was given six stars by the Observer, blowing the top off the five star scale.

 

Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (1/25/85, St. Louis, Mo.) This may have been Kerry s best match ever. He showed all the ability that he was always billed as having. It s to bad this match didn t take place on the famous Texas Stadium card n 1984, because if it had, it would be remembered today as the greatest wrestling match of all time.

 

Ric Flair vs Bruiser Brody (1/4/85, St. Louis, Mo.) Just a marvelous give and take match. The crowd was going nuts here. Which shows just how over Brody was at the time in St. Louis.

 

Midnight Express vs Fantastics (4/26/88, Chattanooga, Tn.) These four had a lot of matches that could have made this list, but this was the best. It was the match that went more than 40 minutes with the Fantastics finally winning the U.S. Tag Team Titles.

 

Freebirds vs The Von Erich s (7/4/83 & 7/4/84, Fort Worth, Tx.) There were many of these match-ups as well that could make the list, but these were probably the two best. In 1983 it was a 2 of 3 falls match, while the 1984 match, which was five-stars even though it included Mike, was the match which got the Bad Street match over as a gimmick for years in Texas.

 

Fantastics vs Sheepherders (4/86, New Orleans, La.) This was the match that stole the show at the 1st Crockett Cup. Lots of blood and violence and it was the best example, with all the turns in the story and post-match brawl of Bill Watts style wrestling. I WAS AT THIS SHOW AND EVEN NOW, IT S ONE OF THE BEST LIVE MATCHES I VE EVER SEEN.

 

Ted Dibiase vs Dick Murdoch (12/31/85, Oklahoma City, Ok.) Let s not be confused into thinking this was a wrestling match, because it wasn t. I don t think a single hold was used. This was one of Dibiase s 1st matches back after a Japan tour, though they did an angle before he left, where Murdoch Injured him.

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle (3/12/83, Greensboro, N.C.) This was the match that spawned the idea of Starrcade, as the bout drew a sellout of 16,000 fans in Greensboro and turned away almost as many. These four went more than 45 minutes in a cage before Steamboat & Youngblood won the match and the NWA Tag Titles.

 

Pat Patterson vs Sgt. Slaughter (4/21/81 @ MSG) This was the legendary alley fight brawl. One of the best in pro wrestling history.

 

Midnight Rockers vs Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (8/31/86, Las Vegas, Nv.) My friend Jeff Steele said that this was the kind of match that made him a wrestling fan. Lots of blood and wild brawling. Got the Rockers over as one of the top teams in the business.

 

Nick Bockwinkel vs Curt Hennig (11/21/86, Las Vegas, Nv.) This was the famous 60-minute draw that ESPN aired on New Years Eve. Doing a 60-minute draw on New Years Eve sounds like a recipe for suicide ratings, but once you started watching this match you were hooked till the end. Hennig really showed here just how good he was going to get.

 

Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & J.J. Dillon vs Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering (7/4/87, Atlanta, Ga.) The first ever WAR GAMES from the Omni. The most famous of all the War Games and probably the most brutal. Considering the babyface side, it s a wonder this was even a good match.

 

Midnight Express vs Fantastics (3/27/88, Greensboro, N.C.) This was the wild brawl from the first Clash Of The Champions. Who can forget Tommy Rogers being bulldogged on the table or running full speed into a table, set up at ringside by Jim Cornette?

 

Ric Flair vs Sting (3/27/88, Greensboro, N.C.) The match everyone will remember as the match, which made Sting a superstar. The 45-minute draw that was voted match of the year and made the first Clash the card of the year. Flair was incredible here. Probably in a good mood after spending most of the last two years in feuds with the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff.

 

Jim Duggan vs Buzz Sawyer (11/11/85, New Orleans, La.) This was the match where the two guys brawled for about 20 minutes in the ring, then ended up going into the back of the building with their brawl and swearing up and down at each other. This match gave their feud a semblance of realism that I enjoyed.

 

Ric Flair vs Butch Reed (10/27/85, Oklahoma City, Ok.) Best match I ever saw Reed in but with the opponent, it s no wonder. Flair thrived on having great matches with wrestlers like Reed in those days.

 

Ric Flair vs Terry Taylor (6/1/85, New Orleans, La.) The biggest match of Taylor s career was in a Superdome Main Event. The match went 44 minutes and Taylor gave one of the best performances of his life.

 

Terry Gordy vs Killer Khan (11/22/84, Dallas, Tx.) This was the famous Texas Death bloodbath with Kerry Von Erich as referee. While the highlight was the very first Von Erich/Freebird handshake at the end of the match, it was a great because it was one of the bloodiest matches on a big show in a promotion that rarely featured blood at the time.

 

Eddie Gilbert & Tommy Rich vs Koko Ware & Norvell Austin (5/14/84, Memphis, Tn.) Gilbert & Rich were billed as the Fabulous Ones in those days, Ware & Austin as the Pretty Young Things . This was a tremendous brawl, going up into the stands and onto the stage in the back of the Mid South Coliseum.

 

Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (12/26/88, Norfolk, Va.) This match for the first time showed Luger as more then just a muscular stiff. Kind of a forgotten match with all the classic matches Flair was involved in over the next few months.

 

Owen Hart & Ben Bassarab vs The Viet Cong Express (9/6/86, Calgary, Al.) These four, all basic unknowns at the time, had a series of classic matches for several months that alerted the wrestling world to the fact that they were four of the most talented young wrestlers around. This match, a 50-minute scientific draw was the best match of the series. Ironically, three years later, when all four should be superstars, none have had the success one would have thought. Hase, a rookie at the time, got a big push initially in Japan but has been phased down. Hart had a disappointing year, but should be a major star in Japan in 1990. Bassarab is out of wrestling, while Nikura suffered a heart attack two months later and has wrestled sparingly since that time.

 

Terry Taylor & Eddie Gilbert vs Sting & Shane Douglas (6/1/87, New Orleans, La.) This was The Battle Of New Orleans , and even though Douglas was in the original match, he had nothing to do with it making this list. Chris Adams ran in after Douglas was injured and the four brawled in the back of the arena with beer and concessions flying everywhere.

 

Ted Dibiase vs Randy Savage (7/22/88 @ MSG) These two had several matches that could have made this list, but this was the cage match and Dibiase proved to be a human pinball here. A wild match in the usually sedate Garden, made all the more memorable by a fan climbing up the cage and trying to keep Virgil from interfering.

 

Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson vs The Rockers (2/16/89, Hershey, Pa.) These four also had a series of excellent matches from coast to-coast. This match was the most viewed of them all. The February Saturday Night Man Event match which went to a double count out. Even Vince McMahon had to realize here that he had a team in Blanchard & Anderson that were simply to good not to give the tag team titles to.

 

Ric Flair vs Terry Funk (7/23/89, Baltimore, Md.) This was Flairs big comeback after the career threatening injury from Nashville. The wildest brawl in a long time in the NWA, with a great post-match brawl. This match paid off what it promised, and it promised a lot, which is a rare commodity in today s wrestling scene. I WAS AT THIS SHOW, THE POST MATCH BRAWL, LASTED DAM NEAR AS LONG AS THE MATCH

 

Sgt. Slaughter vs Iron Sheik (6/16/84 @ MSG) The famous boot camp match which climaxed the feud Sgt. Slaughter has been living off of for five years plus. Tremendous timing from both men and it was one of the last great matches either man was ever involved in, and the end of an era when it came to WWF wrestling.

 

Magnum T.A. vs Tully Blanchard (11/26/85, Greensboro, N.C.) Up until the N.Y. Knockout match, this was the most famous I Quit match in the history of the business. Many people say this is the best match ever held on a Starrcade card. Ricky Steamboat vs Tully Blanchard (11/27/84, Greensboro, N.C.) This was from the second Starrcade, and was really the only super match on the entire show. Steamboat showed everyone that he was one of the best wrestlers in the world, something which must have gone unnoticed by Dusty Rhodes, since he was never pushed hard after this match.

 

Ricky Steamboat vs Lex Luger (7/22/89, Philadelphia, Pa.) Even though these two had a great match the next night on the PPV in Baltimore, this match was even better. Luger looked excellent staying with Steamboat, and Steamboat looked like the best wrestler in the business in leading things.

 

Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage (3/29/87, Pontiac, Mi.) Probably the greatest match in the modern history of the WWF, before more then 93,000 fans at Wrestlemania III Hogan and Andre was the match that sold the show, this was the match that stole the show.

 

Wayne Ferris & Kevin Sullivan vs Bill Dundee & The Dream Machine (4/81, Louisville, Ky.) I know that with a guy like Honkeytonk Man, you must be thinking that there is no way this match could have been any good. How wrong you are. This was one of those wild, in the stands type of brawls that the Memphis area is famous for. A little bit of everything took place here.

 

Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee (6/83, Memphis, Tn.) There is no way you could make a list of the 100 great matches of the decade and not include at least one of these matches. Like Freebirds vs Von Erichs, Hansen & Brody vs The Funks and Flair vs Steamboat, these are the kind of matches that will live in history. This was the 1st loser leave town match, which Lawler won. One thing I really enjoyed about this match was the fact that all the other wrestlers in the circuit were sitting ringside and cheering both men on, giving the match an even greater sense of importance. In fact the regular T.V. show was canceled that week and they devoted the entire 90 minutes to a lengthy interview with both men and with the other wrestlers talking about probably the most famous match of the decade in Memphis.

 

Negro Casas vs El Hijo Del Santo (7/18/87, Los Angeles, Ca.) This was a Hair vs Hair match that without any local television, drew more than 7,000 fans to the Olympic Auditorium, more than either Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan, both of whom were appearing in Los Angeles regularly at the time, had been able to draw. Many people who were there live swear this was the greatest match that they ever saw.

 

Midnight Express vs Rock n Roll Express (4/86, Charlotte, N.C.) You have to put at least one match involving these teams in any list of this type as well. The best one I saw, which never aired on U.S. television but was televised in Japan was with Cornette in a cage above the ring.

 

****After reading that list of 80 matches, you re probably wondering what can top these bouts. Well we re going to try and put these top 20 matches of the decade in order, from #20 to #1, and here goes:

 

 

# 20 - Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami & The Cobra vs The British Bulldogs & David Shultz (7/1/84, Tokyo Japan) At this point in time, not only were Kid & Smith the best tag team in the world, but arguably, the best tag team ever up to that point in time. The highspots with them and Cobra & Fujinami truly are the highlight film of professional wrestling. Shultz and Inoki were almost never involved, except as spectators. Incredible pacing, and it was topped off be a great post-match brawl.

 

#19 Eddie Gilbert & Ricky Morton vs Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Onita (1981, Tupelo, Ms.) This is remembered as the second great Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl. The 1st with Lawler & Dundee vs Latham & Ferris took place in 1978. But this was a lot wilder. All four brawled in the concession stand for what seemed like 20 minutes, throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at each other. The highlights include Gilbert hitting Fuchi with a jar of mustard. The jar shattered in Fuchi s ear and blood and mustard mixed flew everywhere. The other was when the promoter jumped in to break up things and Tojo Yamamoto (who managed Fuchi & Onita) started chopping away at him. His wife, who didn t know it was all an act, jumped in and went into hysterics and tried to slug Tojo. Tojo tried to chop back but the wife wasn t selling anything, except she went nuts since she didn t know what was going on.

 

#18 Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy vs Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada (12/16/88, Tokyo, Japan) This was the final match of the 1988 tag team tournament. The match established Kawada as a legitimate main eventer, but featured an incredible individual performance by Tenryu, who worked the last 10 minutes of the match by himself after Kawada had his knee injured .

 

#17 Ted Dibiase vs Jim Duggan (3/22/85, Houston, Tx.) The greatest stipulation match ever. The two fought in tuxedos, with a Coal Miners Glove on a pole, in a cage and the loser was to leave town. Dibiase put on the match of a lifetime here and Duggan at the time was one of the best brawlers in the game. This is what a great brawl is all about.

 

#16 Tiger Mask (Misawa) vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (6/21/85, Tokyo, Japan) This was the match that showed everyone that Misawa could live up to the reputation of the costume. The best move of the match was with Kobayashi on the floor, Mask does a dive over the top rope, flips in mid-air, and catches Kobayashi on the way over with a savage kick. It should be pointed out that about a minute or two before Misawa did this move, he had blown out his knee so bad it required surgery after the match.

 

#15 Ric Flair vs Barry Windham (1/20/87, Fayetteville, N.C.) This match aired for the entirety of a World Wide Wrestling show about a week later, lasting 42 minutes and going to a draw. Great match, and a great job of calling the match by Dusty Rhodes at ringside, who was sweating so bad and getting so excited just watching the thing that at one point he screamed out to Tony Schiavone Hey Tony, Get me a cerveza

 

#14 Ric Flair vs Terry Funk (11/15/89, Troy, N.Y.) The best thing about this match is that it was hyped so big beforehand that it would almost be impossible for the guys to live up to the promised brutality, especially with a ban on blood going in. Arguably the best single performance of Funk s legendary career. The highlight was Flair tossing Funk across a table; Funk slid across and hit his head on a chair as he slid off the table. One of the few great performances of Flair s career when nobody was talking about Flair s performance after the match was over.

 

#13 - Bill Dundee & Buddy Landel vs Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantell (3/24/86, Memphis, Tn.) Arguably, this was the best Memphis brawl of the decade. This match was a few weeks after Lawler returned after losing a loser leaves town match and this four way feud was so hot that it sold out the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis, three weeks in a row. Incidentally, that was the last 3 times wrestling has sold out the Coliseum from any promotion. This was a Texas Death Match and lasted more than one hour and had 27 falls. There were some incredible spots throughout and a really unique finish.

 

#12 Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat (4/2/89, New Orleans, La.) Another classic match, before a national audience. These two went for 55 minutes in a two of three-fall match showing not only that they were the two best wrestlers in the business, but also arguably the two best conditioned in the business. This was a terrific match, but it didn t have the magical quality to me that the other two matches had. Still, one of the best.

 

#11 Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask (Sayama) (8/5/82, Tokyo, Japan) Two of the greatest wrestlers of all time met when both were at their peaks here in a 25 minute match of one incredible move after another.

 

#10 Choshu, Fujinami, Maeda, Kimura & Super Strong Machine vs Inoki, Sakaguchi, Mutoh, Hoshino & Fujiwara (8/19/87, Tokyo, Japan) The 1987 New Japan released Summer Night Fever is the best commercial wrestling video ever produced and this match is the main reason. It was a 10-man elimination match, which went nearly 30 minutes of nothing but hot moves and brutal action. Every wrestler was at the top of their game here.

 

#9 Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda (6/12/86, Osaka, Japan) One of the most brutal professional-style matches ever. Maeda just kicks Fujinami to death and looks incredible. But Fujinami s selling is so realistic that when he makes the comeback, even the most jaded non-believer would be jumping up and down with excitement. As good as this match was, it probably would have been better had not something unforeseen happened, which ironically is what the match is most famous for. They were suppose to do a 30-minute draw, and were building for the last 10 minutes to be incredible, but at the 21 minute mark, Maeda hit Fujinami with a spinning flying backward kick. The heel of Maeda s boot accidentally caught Fujinami s face, which literally exploded into a crimson mask, the ultimate in doing things the hard way. Fujinami suffered a legit concussion from the kick and was out of action for some time afterward. The two quickly went to a double knockout finish to the credit of the quick thinking wrestlers and referee. This was a landslide winner for Japan s match of the year, that year.

 

#8 - Chigusa Nagoya vs Lioness Asuka (2/26/87, Kawasaki, Japan) This was, without a doubt, the best of many memorable matches these two had with one another. The match went 35 minutes of nothing but incredible moves and near falls. It simply has to be seen to be believed, and established Chigusa as the best women wrestler of the era.

 

#7 Ric Flair vs Barry Windham (2/14/86, Orlando, Fl.) This was from the 2nd Battle Of The Belts. This was Windham s 1st big match since returning from Titan and he showed that he was one of the five best wrestlers in the world when allowed to be. The match went more then 45 minutes to a double count out and the crowd was totally intense from start to finish. The match was originally suppose to be a 60 minute draw, but two of the under card wrestlers went way long on this live TV special and they had to change the finish as the show went on.

 

#6 Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu (1/28/86, Tokyo, Japan) Tsuruta & Tenryu who were usually the babyfaces when these teams matched-up, were definitely heels here since they continued to work on Choshu s broken ribs from a post match run in by Tsuruta a few days earlier on T.V. The match started hot, with Choshu, with taped ribs, grabbing the house mike and yelling to Tsuruta & Tenryu, if you can t beat me tonight, then you know you ll never be able to beat me. Twenty-five minutes of hot action followed, with Yatsu looking the best he would look in his entire career on this night.

 

#5 - Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (12/25/82, Dallas, Tx.) This was the match that started the entire Von Erich Freebird feud, and was probably the most important match in any circuit during the early part of the decade. Great performance by Flair, in carrying Von Erich, who was still pretty green at the time. Just as memorable, if not more, was the performance by Michael Hayes as special referee, starting as a babyface, and 30 minutes later being the hottest heel in the business. The most memorable portion was Terry Gordy slamming the cage door on Von Erich, which sounded so solid that none of the 15,000 fans in attendance doubted for a second that Von Erich had suffered a concussion. What was great about this match was even though the story they wanted to get across was the Freebird heel turn; they gave you 25 minutes of a classic match before the turn.

 

#4 - Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat (2/20/89, Chicago, Il.) One of those nights where magic was in the air. From the pre-match interviews, to the best ring entrances of all time to 23 classic minutes of action. Everything about this match was five stars, made even better for the viewers at home by Jim Ross doing the greatest play-by-play job ever for a single match.

 

#3 - Lioness Asuka vs Jaguar Yokota (8/22/85, Tokyo, Japan) Yokota is the greatest female wrestler of all time and she took one of the most memorable bumps of the decade. Yokota had Asuka all set up for a suplex, when Asuka reverses the move, holds Yokota up vertical, and drops her face first into the ring. Amazing. Little disputing this match as the greatest women s wrestling match of all time.

 

#2 Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask (Sayama) (4/23/83, Tokyo, Japan) Besides all the expected great moves, this match had Dynamite Kid breaking a water bottle on the ring post and bringing it into the ring. The spectacular finish of the best of three falls match (which ended in two straight falls of double count outs) saw Tiger give Kid a tombstone pile driver on the floor, Tiger turns to the crowd to signify victory turns around and Kid gives him a tombstone pile driver on the floor before both men simply collapse on the floor and don t get up.

 

#1 - Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat May 7th 1989, Nashville, Tn.

 

What can you say about the BEST wrestling match you ve ever seen? Great ring entrances. A fantastic opening chop sequence. They took the crowd down at times. Brought them as far up as you can go. There was a great post match angle with Terry Funk. About the only thing bad I can say about the match is that it didn t last long enough, and it went more then 30 minutes. I just didn t want the match to end because you knew you were living through wrestling history in the making and you wanted to savor every minute of it. Someone remarked to me that in Chicago, it seemed like Flair was the better wrestler of the two because even with the great story line it seemed Steamboat still hadn t fully hit his stride after the long layoff. In New Orleans, Steamboat had hit his stride and both wrestlers were just about even. In this match it appeared Steamboat had actually surpassed Flair. I don t know and I really don t care, because this match was the thrill of a wrestling lifetime and I want to thank both wrestlers for the privilege of watching it.

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Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat (3/18/89 @ The Capital Center) You could probably make a case for 100 matches between these two as the best of the past two decades. This match was given six stars by the Observer, blowing the top off the five star scale.

Was it Jeff or Dave who gave it the 6* rating? I always found that weird since I think they were both at at least 2 of the 3 "big' matches and this was, while excellent, not quite as good (though maybe better than Nashville in hindsight).

 

Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (1/25/85, St. Louis, Mo.) This may have been Kerry s best match ever. He showed all the ability that he was always billed as having. It s to bad this match didn t take place on the famous Texas Stadium card n 1984, because if it had, it would be remembered today as the greatest wrestling match of all time.

I don't know if I've ever seen this one...was there a St. Louis promotion at this point, was it Geigel running a Central States show in St. Louis, or what? Where did it air (or was Jeff there live)? Given the description, it's weird that it's not in his top 20.

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle (3/12/83, Greensboro, N.C.) This was the match that spawned the idea of Starrcade, as the bout drew a sellout of 16,000 fans in Greensboro and turned away almost as many. These four went more than 45 minutes in a cage before Steamboat & Youngblood won the match and the NWA Tag Titles.

Was he there live? I don't anything ever aired and the full match didn't surface until a few years ago.

 

Pat Patterson vs Sgt. Slaughter (4/21/81 @ MSG) This was the legendary alley fight brawl. One of the best in pro wrestling history.

 

Owen Hart & Ben Bassarab vs The Viet Cong Express (9/6/86, Calgary, Al.) These four, all basic unknowns at the time, had a series of classic matches for several months that alerted the wrestling world to the fact that they were four of the most talented young wrestlers around. This match, a 50-minute scientific draw was the best match of the series. Ironically, three years later, when all four should be superstars, none have had the success one would have thought. Hase, a rookie at the time, got a big push initially in Japan but has been phased down. Hart had a disappointing year, but should be a major star in Japan in 1990. Bassarab is out of wrestling, while Nikura suffered a heart attack two months later and has wrestled sparingly since that time.

What aired from these were great...but was probably 20% of the match or less. Was he there live or just going by the TV footage (stupid Stu & Whalen...)?

 

Ted Dibiase vs Randy Savage (7/22/88 @ MSG) These two had several matches that could have made this list, but this was the cage match and Dibiase proved to be a human pinball here. A wild match in the usually sedate Garden, made all the more memorable by a fan climbing up the cage and trying to keep Virgil from interfering.

Wha...?

 

#13 - Bill Dundee & Buddy Landel vs Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantell (3/24/86, Memphis, Tn.) Arguably, this was the best Memphis brawl of the decade. This match was a few weeks after Lawler returned after losing a loser leaves town match and this four way feud was so hot that it sold out the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis, three weeks in a row. Incidentally, that was the last 3 times wrestling has sold out the Coliseum from any promotion. This was a Texas Death Match and lasted more than one hour and had 27 falls. There were some incredible spots throughout and a really unique finish.

Again, was he there live? What aired was incredible, but it was massively clipped up.

 

#3 - Lioness Asuka vs Jaguar Yokota (8/22/85, Tokyo, Japan) Yokota is the greatest female wrestler of all time and she took one of the most memorable bumps of the decade. Yokota had Asuka all set up for a suplex, when Asuka reverses the move, holds Yokota up vertical, and drops her face first into the ring. Amazing. Little disputing this match as the greatest women s wrestling match of all time.

This was going by the clipped TV version and not a trip to Japan, right?
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# 20 - Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami & The Cobra vs The British Bulldogs & David Shultz (7/1/84, Tokyo Japan) At this point in time, not only were Kid & Smith the best tag team in the world, but arguably, the best tag team ever up to that point in time. The highspots with them and Cobra & Fujinami truly are the highlight film of professional wrestling. Shultz and Inoki were almost never involved, except as spectators. Incredible pacing, and it was topped off be a great post-match brawl.

I remember when I first saw this list a few years ago I really wanted to see the Top 20 so I got a copy of this match. I dunno it was really fun and all with Dr. Schultz constantly trying to get at Inoki and I'm a big Dynamite/Fujinami fan but I never saw the greatness of it as compared to the other high matches ranked here.

 

#13 - Bill Dundee & Buddy Landel vs Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantell (3/24/86, Memphis, Tn.) Arguably, this was the best Memphis brawl of the decade. This match was a few weeks after Lawler returned after losing a loser leaves town match and this four way feud was so hot that it sold out the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis, three weeks in a row. Incidentally, that was the last 3 times wrestling has sold out the Coliseum from any promotion. This was a Texas Death Match and lasted more than one hour and had 27 falls. There were some incredible spots throughout and a really unique finish.

The only match of the Top 20 that I've never seen. And it sounds awesome. :-(

 

Just curious from all you wrestling guru's who's likely seen tons of stuff from the 80's then me. Any matches you think really should've made this list? What's your #1 match or top matches from the 80's? Just curious!

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Just curious from all you wrestling guru's who's likely seen tons of stuff from the 80's then me. Any matches you think really should've made this list? What's your #1 match or top matches from the 80's? Just curious!

I think Jeff did a pretty good job with the list. It reflects the era he wrote it in, and the DVDVR project will be dramatically different, but we have more footage available now than people had back then.

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Matches that I'd add for sure:

 

Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (WCCW 08/15/82, 2/3 falls) - Much better than the Christmas match for my money, with an especially awesome first fall.

 

Ric Flair vs Jumbo Tsuruta (AJPW 06/08/83) - At the time, only 40 minutes of this 60-minute draw were available. The full match has now aired on G+, but I have yet to see it. Still, based on the footage available at the time, this should have been a top 5 or top 10 level pick.

 

Jumbo Tsuruta vs Kerry Von Erich (AJPW 05/22/84) - The second best Kerry Von Erich match ever, and probably Jumbo's best non-Tenryu singles match of the decade as well.

 

Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (Hawaii 10/12/85) - The best Kerry Von Erich match ever, and one of Flair's two or three best as well. This was available among traders at the time.

 

Chigusa Nagayo vs Devil Masami (AJW 08/22/85) - The Lioness Asuka/Jaguar Yokota match from the same show gets all the credit, but when AJW Classics aired that match and this match in full, it was pretty obvious which was actually the best. This has a good case for being the greatest match of the decade, and everyone should see it.

 

Chigusa Nagayo vs Dump Matsumoto (AJW 08/28/85)

 

Dick Murdoch vs Butch Reed (Mid South 09/22/85) - 57 minutes of really great, intricate wrestling sequences, and a shining moment for both guys. Unsure if the Mid South house show stuff that didn't air on TV was being widely circulated among traders in the 80s or not.

 

Ric Flair vs Ricky Morton (NWA 07/05/86, Cage match) - Just released on the Horsemen DVD, and this match wasn't available at the time the list was made through any source. In many ways, I think Flair/Morton produced better overall stuff (wrestling combined with booking combined with heat combined with hot crowds) than any Flair feud ever did. The sad part is that there are only a handful of complete matches available between the two, but everything that is out there is tremendous. Top 10 case for this match that will actually probably be #1 on my list when DVDVR does the NWA.

 

Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat vs Toshiaki Kawada & Ricky Fuyuki (AJPW 06/05/89) - I may have just missed this one from the list somehow, but really, there's no excuse for it not being here, considering the amount of praise it got at the time and being widely available.

 

There's also a ton of Euro and Lucha matches, when neither was really getting any attention from the hardcores at that point in time.

 

For lucha, these matches are musts:

 

MS-1 vs Sangre Chicana (09/23/83) - The greatest match in the history of pro wrestling as far as I'm concerned.

Americo Rocca vs Manuel Cota (01/25/84)

El Satanico vs Shiro Koshinaka (07/30/84)

El Satanico vs Gran Cochisse (09/14/84)

Atlantis vs El Faraon (03/20/85)

Jerry Estrada vs Javier Cruz (10/20/89)

Brazo de Oro vs Pirata Morgan (11/16/89)

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Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat (3/18/89 @ The Capital Center)

Was it Jeff or Dave who gave it the 6* rating? I always found that weird since I think they were both at at least 2 of the 3 "big' matches and this was, while excellent, not quite as good (though maybe better than Nashville in hindsight).

 

I actually thought this was the best match of their series, simply because they were working for a live crowd instead of cameras, so everything was more exaggerated. Meltzer gave the 6* rating.

 

Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich (1/25/85, St. Louis, Mo.I don't know if I've ever seen this one...was there a St. Louis promotion at this point, was it Geigel running a Central States show in St. Louis, or what? Where did it air (or was Jeff there live)? Given the description, it's weird that it's not in his top 20.

 

This aired on World Pro. I'm not sure if it aired through any other medium.

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle (3/12/83, Greensboro, N.C.)

Was he there live? I don't anything ever aired and the full match didn't surface until a few years ago.

 

I suspect this went in on rep, but luckily, it deserved to be there anyway.

 

Ted Dibiase vs Randy Savage (7/22/88 @ MSG) These two had several matches that could have made this list, but this was the cage match and Dibiase proved to be a human pinball here. A wild match in the usually sedate Garden, made all the more memorable by a fan climbing up the cage and trying to keep Virgil from interfering.

Wha...?

 

Compared to Southern crowds, yeah.

 

 

#3 - Lioness Asuka vs Jaguar Yokota (8/22/85, Tokyo, Japan)

This was going by the clipped TV version and not a trip to Japan, right?

 

I suspect it was. The aired version doesn't really show much at all. It's probably 5 or 6 minutes in total. The match is available in full from AJW Classics now.

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Loss did lucha, let me try to tackle England (though the '70s were a much stronger decade, IMO):

 

- Dynamite Kid vs. Mark Rocco (aired 3/5/83)

- Sammy Lee vs. Mark Rocco (3/31/81)

- Fuji Yamada vs. Mark Rocco (World Mid-Heavyweight Title, 4/24/87)

(I'm detecting a pattern here...)

- Johnny Saint vs. Robbie Brookside (4/24/87)

- Fit Finlay vs. Marty Jones (4/14/84)

- Clive Myers vs. Keith Hayward (12/82)

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Did this get updated in 89 or so as I remember it having a really inexplicable Brainbusters match on it.

 

Also looking through the one big thing that stuck out is:

 

#10 Choshu, Fujinami, Maeda, Kimura & Super Strong Machine vs Inoki, Sakaguchi, Mutoh, Hoshino & Fujiwara (8/19/87, Tokyo, Japan)

 

Of the New Japan 5 v 5 matches was their a period where that was the one people felt was the best?

Is that still the case?

Why?

 

 

For whatever its worth:

 

Satoru Sayama vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (12/5/84, Tokyo, Japan) This was a UWF match. Dave Meltzer saw it live and said it may have been the most brutal and realistically violent match in wrestling history. The kicks Sayama threw at Fujiwara had to be seen live to be appreciated. It appeared more severe than blows in boxing or kickboxing.

What Dean wrote:

 

2. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger (12/5/84 UWF) [4279 pts] DEAN: This was my favorite of the Fujiwara/Super Tiger series. Some folks didn't like it because Fujiwara really takes a pretty man-sized assbeating- but I dig it because it is such a giant step from their perfectly fine first match. Here, Super Tiger finally realizes that Fujiwara wants and then demands SHEER HATRED and VIOLENCE and steps up to the plate like he doesn't ever do again in the whole six disk set (though he hints at it when he and Marty Jones beat each other to death- a match I will not whine about being left off. Though one really could replace a few in this list with that. But I digress.) Here, it is quite the Ikeda/Ishikawa-Regal/Benoit style Respect Through Stiffness (or however they rationalize such hellish beatings) and it doesn't bother me that Fujiwara takes the brunt of it to the teeth. Fujiwara grounds ST early and when ST escapes and they are at a vertical base, Fujiwara lets you now that he wants no part of ST kicking him really hard. It's funny that I would bring up Ishikawa/Ikeda (I'm a genius!) because you can tell that Ishikawa used this match as a springboard in his classics with Ikeda- with Ikeda being the most Hell-spawned Super Tiger Ever to Ishikawa's mat-based underdog Fujiwara. Fujiwara starts it with the body punches and Super Tiger responds with the fucking NASTY kneedrops to the back of the head. Fuck, half of Super Tiger's offense is illegal in the United States- as it is basically kicking Fujiwara in the back of the head as Fujiwara lays on the ground, trying to protect himself. Fujiwara's flurry of punches directly to the kidneys of young Super Tiger help erase any sympathy you have for the old fella, but he doesn't ask for your sympathy- he just asks you to stand still while he punches you. Super Tiger actually conveys a subtle but effective sign of desperation right before the final flurry. He escapes the armbar and lays on the ropes collecting his thoughts and you can tell it is from that point that the story is completely set- Fujiwara is not going to beaten on the mat so I, Super Tiger, must beat the living dogpiss out of him. Fujiwara drives it home with his frustration at having to break the final submission attempt- as he headbutts Super Tiger during the break, showing that he isn't going to beat Super Tiger by trying match strikes and each of these attempts could be the last. The whole last third of the match where it is basically Super Tiger kneeing Fujiwara on the top of the head and then just fucking ANNIHILATING him with kneedrops is just TOO fucking MANLY. Fujiwara's FIGHTING SPIRIT~! in his final comeback flurry before just eating white hot knees and feet to the face is fucking legendarily awesome.

 

Satoru Sayama & Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/23/84, Tokyo, Japan) This was a combination of UWF and New Japan styles and the UWF wrestlers were starting to go their own way, but still incorporated high flying and high spots in this match. Brutal, but excellent.

What Phil wrote:

 

12. Super Tiger/Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda/Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/23/84 UWF) [3632 pts] PHIL: This is a classic example of a big star tag match. It isn't a shootstyle match (missile dropkicks, top rope headbutts ect), this is your main eventers matching up. Lots of heat, guys getting off their big moves, and setting up your singles matches. The kind of match that would headline a Smackdown PPV. I enjoy stuff like that, although it isn't a match that was particularly high on my list. This was a nice table setter for Takada v. Maeda and Fujiwara v. Super Tiger which are the big two feuds in the early part of UWF 1. I could see this match making me want to see those singles matches, especially Fujiwara v. Super Tiger. Super Tiger really comes off great here, as it almost feels like he is more over in early UWF1 then he is later. He is also throwing nastier kicks then either Maeda or Takada. Fujiwara is Fujiwara, and he has the charisma that is really need to pull of this kind of star based match.

Stats on the matches from Other Japan 80s set:

 

http://indeedwrestling.frih.net/dvdvr/ojmen80.html

 

what we wrote about those results:

 

http://deathvalleydriver.com/dvdvr/dvdvr165.html

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It's an illuminating look back at what the smark consensus used to be like, with all the contemporary biases. Heavy on southern US, Japan, and Flair; light on most everything else, especially Hulkamania-era WWF. Some lip service is paid to joshi, but not much. As mentioned, there's a decided lack of anything from Mexico, Europe, or other parts of the world. When you crunch a few numbers, some weird discrepencies come up. Like, the Midnight Express is on here only three times: once against the Rock & Roll, but twice against the Fantastics? Many big feuds having one encounter listed with a description like "they had many great matches, this was just one of them", but all three high-profile Flair/Steamboat matches being listed seperately in the top 20? And I personally consider Flair/Steamboat to be my favorite match of all time, it just seems excessive to recognize all the individual encounters in their separate entries. It makes me wonder if it was a case of the fanbase still being wowed by those recent matches, since this list was compiled in 1989.

 

I know it's pretty widely believed that the WWF workrate sucked cold shit in comparison to many of the other territories, but still, only listing a grand total of 3 matches from after 1984 just seems like contrariness. Especially the weird choices for said matches: Savage/Steamboat is a given, but Savage/Dibiase and Brainbusters/Rockers? Good matches, yeah, but it just seems odd to claim that they were better than every single other match the WWF ever put out during that timeframe. Also odd on a list that includes many guys who aren't exactly Greatest Wrestler Ever material, from Jim Duggan to very young Shane Douglas to Inoki to even freakin' Koko Ware, that the name of "Hogan" seems to be banned from the building. Maybe they were just pissed off that casual fans would pay in hordes to watch a product which they thought was second-rate?

 

EDIT: come to think of it, there's a notable lack of Dusty on here too. 1989's answer to HHHate?

EDIT 2: no Bret Hart either. No Jake Roberts. No Bob Backlund. No AJPW next generation guys aside from Tiger Mask II. Lots of top guys AWOL.

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#17 Ted Dibiase vs Jim Duggan (3/22/85, Houston, Tx.) The greatest stipulation match ever. The two fought in tuxedos, with a Coal Miners Glove on a pole, in a cage and the loser was to leave town. Dibiase put on the match of a lifetime here and Duggan at the time was one of the best brawlers in the game. This is what a great brawl is all about.

 

Does anyone else appreciate the irony that if TNA had this very same match on the next Impact, people would be absolutely screaming at what an overbooked mess it was? Granted, if TNA did it the quality of the people involved would be vastly different, but still.

 

 

Chigusa Nagoya vs Dump Matsumoto (11/7/86, Osaka, Japan) This was a hair vs hair match. It was actually the 2nd hair vs hair match. Two years earlier Dump had come out the winner of that match and Chigusa had to suffer with short hair for several months. This was the better of the two because of the blood content. Chigusa bled buckets this time. Not for the weak of heart.

 

If the first match is the one I'm thinking of, didn't she have short hair before? I seem to remember that she was sporting that bowl cut style every woman in the world had at some point in the 80s.

 

 

It's an illuminating look back at what the smark consensus used to be like, with all the contemporary biases. Heavy on southern US, Japan, and Flair; light on most everything else, especially Hulkamania-era WWF

 

Meltzer was pretty anti WWF in general and Hogan specifically during that time frame. Hell, he still has snarky moments about Hogan like the aside he did a few issues back where he envisioned Hogan Knows Best as done by the Rey Mendoza (Villano) family.

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Ric Flair vs Butch Reed (10/27/85, Oklahoma City, Ok.) Best match I ever saw Reed in but with the opponent, it s no wonder. Flair thrived on having great matches with wrestlers like Reed in those days.

 

Ric Flair vs Terry Taylor (6/1/85, New Orleans, La.) The biggest match of Taylor s career was in a Superdome Main Event. The match went 44 minutes and Taylor gave one of the best performances of his life.

 

I suck at reading between the lines...but did he not think much of Reed? "best match I saw Reed in" vis a vis "gave one of the best performances"...makes the Reed match seem like Reed was more passive participant than Taylor.

 

 

 

I know it's pretty widely believed that the WWF workrate sucked cold shit in comparison to many of the other territories, but still, only listing a grand total of 3 matches from after 1984 just seems like contrariness.

I don't think so.

 

Especially when I can't imagine anyone thinking these two still belong.

 

Ted Dibiase vs Randy Savage (7/22/88 @ MSG) These two had several matches that could have made this list, but this was the cage match and Dibiase proved to be a human pinball here. A wild match in the usually sedate Garden, made all the more memorable by a fan climbing up the cage and trying to keep Virgil from interfering.

 

Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson vs The Rockers (2/16/89, Hershey, Pa.) These four also had a series of excellent matches from coast to-coast. This match was the most viewed of them all. The February Saturday Night Man Event match which went to a double count out. Even Vince McMahon had to realize here that he had a team in Blanchard & Anderson that were simply to good not to give the tag team titles to.

 

The decision to include any WWF tag match seems like an act of generosity and not an act of contrariness.

 

Also odd on a list that includes many guys who aren't exactly Greatest Wrestler Ever material, from Jim Duggan to very young Shane Douglas to Inoki to even freakin' Koko Ware, that the name of "Hogan" seems to be banned from the building.

Duggan is really great as reckless brawler in Mid-south with almost Sabu type abandon.

 

Shane Douglas is essentially a non -participant in Last Battle of New Orleans (which really is an angle and not a match and shouldn't be on as it is really good post match brawl--but there have been better).

 

Inoki is Inoki.

 

and while short Koko Ware even pre-Brainbuster ruled.

 

Does anyone else appreciate the irony that if TNA had this very same match on the next Impact, people would be absolutely screaming at what an overbooked mess it was?

This is built to for along time, not just stip thrown out meaninglessly. Long program that culminates in a stip (no matter how over the top) isn't going to get the criticism of a bunch of stips thrown out with no explanation.

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#17 Ted Dibiase vs Jim Duggan (3/22/85, Houston, Tx.) The greatest stipulation match ever. The two fought in tuxedos, with a Coal Miners Glove on a pole, in a cage and the loser was to leave town. Dibiase put on the match of a lifetime here and Duggan at the time was one of the best brawlers in the game. This is what a great brawl is all about.

 

Does anyone else appreciate the irony that if TNA had this very same match on the next Impact, people would be absolutely screaming at what an overbooked mess it was? Granted, if TNA did it the quality of the people involved would be vastly different, but still.

 

Yeah, what Tom said. TNA doesn't have the patience or the booking capable of pulling something like this off. For those who picked up my Mid South set or Ted Dibiase set, you see how this plays out over a 6 month period (and the feud was actually going on for a year and a half at this point). I wrote a recap of this match how going in, I thought it was the most absurd match ever but it came out as my favorite match of the 80s and will be #1 on my Mid South ballot.

 

Something in TNA would go like this...

Week 1- Kurt Angle comes out in a tuxedo with his wife. Smaoa Joe insults him. Backstage, Kurt Angle brings out a Coal Miners Glove and lays him out. Later on in the show, Joe challenges Angle to a match. Match happens at the end of the show. Midway through the match, Tenay mentions offhand that this is a pink slip on a pole, cage match. Joe wins the match, Tenay screams how we will never see Angle in a TNA ring again.

 

Week 2- Joe does an interview and never mentions Angle. Announcer's never reference last week's match.

 

Week 3- Kurt Angle comes out and attacks some random jobber. Tenay and West scream at how Angle is BACK... after a week off.

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I don't think so.

 

Especially when I can't imagine anyone thinking these two still belong.

 

The decision to include any WWF tag match seems like an act of generosity and not an act of contrariness.

So you literally think that, aside from Savage/Steamboat, that there wasn't a single match from the WWF after 1984 which deserved to make a best-of list? Whoa. That's some pretty intense hatred.
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There wasn't. That's not hatred at all. That's a reflection of great wrestling taking place everywhere else.

 

I'm also not sure the WWF ever had a great tag team match in their entire existence until maybe 1994 or so when Michaels and Diesel faced Kid and Ramon, and that Harts/Steiners match was taped for home video.

 

Maybe something from Murdoch/Adonis, but that's probably it.

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There wasn't. That's not hatred at all. That's a reflection of great wrestling taking place everywhere else.

 

I'm also not sure the WWF ever had a great tag team match in their entire existence until maybe 1994 or so when Michaels and Diesel faced Kid and Ramon, and that Harts/Steiners match was taped for home video.

 

Maybe something from Murdoch/Adonis, but that's probably it.

I've caught a few of Adonis/Murdoch's matches, it's quite odd to see that they were allowed to work these epic tag matches that would run 25 minutes. I wrote up a six-man a while back with them and Lou Albano against Slaughter and the Samoans that I really enjoyed.

 

If I had to pick one tag match in between them and 1994, it would be the 20-man tag from Survivor Series '88, wall-to-wall action from a promotion that oddly did not run many odd gimmick matches (they stuck to the standards like cage matches). Dean Rasmussen wrote of his contempt of the WWF tag formula and while I don't outright hate it, it is true that you would be hard-pressed to find a truly great match in there. There are a few good matches, but it seems to blend in. Rockers/Brainbusters from both SNME and MSG I enjoyed throughly, but not so much that I would feel the need to shill them in a greatest match discussion.

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Loss did lucha, let me try to tackle England (though the '70s were a much stronger decade, IMO):

 

- Dynamite Kid vs. Mark Rocco (aired 3/5/83)

- Sammy Lee vs. Mark Rocco (3/31/81)

- Fuji Yamada vs. Mark Rocco (World Mid-Heavyweight Title, 4/24/87)

(I'm detecting a pattern here...)

- Johnny Saint vs. Robbie Brookside (4/24/87)

- Fit Finlay vs. Marty Jones (4/14/84)

- Clive Myers vs. Keith Hayward (12/82)

Off the top of my head, I'd add Clive Myers vs Young David (Smith) from 3/17/81 (Aired 3/21, and I don't think it's aired on TWC).
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Also odd on a list that includes many guys who aren't exactly Greatest Wrestler Ever material, from Jim Duggan to very young Shane Douglas to Inoki to even freakin' Koko Ware, that the name of "Hogan" seems to be banned from the building.

As mentioned by Bowdren, Douglas has nothing to do with the match making the list.

 

"Inoki is Inoki" really is the best way to put it.

 

Duggan was great in Mid-South.

 

Koko Ware was an absolutely fantastic wrestler pre-WWF. You sound like one of those guys who think people are joking when they suggest that El Dandy was a legendarily great wrestler.

 

Maybe they were just pissed off that casual fans would pay in hordes to watch a product which they thought was second-rate?

There was a sentiment like this at the time.

 

No AJPW next generation guys aside from Tiger Mask II.

Foot Loose vs Shinichi Nakano & Shunji Takano (7/19/88 & 9/20/88) These two matches had the best four young workers in All Japan. They were roughly on the same level as the Midnight Express vs The Fantastics matches in the U.S. during the same year.
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I think somebody at some point compiled all of these matches into one set, because I remember about 12 years ago, a friend of mine told me that he kept trying to watch this set, but would always fall asleep during the Choshu/Khan match. Not sure if the matches on the set are complete or just clip jobs, though.

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Just curious from all you wrestling guru's who's likely seen tons of stuff from the 80's then me. Any matches you think really should've made this list? What's your #1 match or top matches from the 80's? Just curious!

Not a "guru" by any stretch, but I am an AWA guy and from the AWA I would want to include these:

 

-Greg Gagne/Jim Brunzell (Tag Champs) vs. Rick Martel/Tito Santana (July 9/82 and August 29/82, St. Paul): The first one only has the last 8 minutes available out of 28, but it's all action and really fast-paced. Ends in adouble-countout, which sets up the August rematch. Both teams are totally scientific throughout.

The August match is available save for the first three or four minutes, and it's more of the same. the ending sees The High Flyers get the win on an absolutely brutal dropkick from Brunzell on Santana. I'd love to ask Tito if he got a concussion from that one some day. Again, a purely scientific matchup that the crowd just eats up. (know what's neat to see? The partners of the guys in trouble reacting hugely to their partner trying to kick out of a pin combo, but not coming in the ring to make the save. Brunzell was particualrly good at this when Greg kicked out at 2 and 3/4).

 

- Rick Martel (AWA Champ) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (9/29/85, St. Paul). This one went the night after Supr Clash I and is my favourite of all the Martel-Tsuruta bouts that went on in the US and Japan (I think there are four available..two from St. Paul and two from Japan). Only the first minute is edited, but the match is all action. Pity that only about 2,000 people saw this one live.

 

I absolutely would put these three bouts on the list.

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"Inoki is Inoki" really is the best way to put it.

Not sure what Tom meant by that, so I passed on it the time before. But...

 

To WON Readers, especially the hardcore inner circle of which no one was more in Dave's circle in the 80s than Bowdren, Inoki was seen as the Dusty and Hogan of Japan all wrapped up into one. He was absolutely loathed. Hated beyond belief. Baba was joked about, but at least he got out of the way for Jumbo, Tenryu, Choshu, etc. Inoki "held everyone back", ripped off the promotion's money, was the one who caused the Beloved Sayama to leave pro-style wrestling, made the Beloved Choshu jump to All Japan, wouldn't job to Fujinami (except in a tag) or Brody. Just pure Evil in Japan.

 

The rebirth and reinvention of Inoki in the WON didn't begin until 1996 when Dave did his G1 piece. That would have been it if MMA hadn't taken off so big in Japan, which move Inoki from Icon in Dave's mind to Inoki becoming The Lord High God of the Wrestling-MMA Connection.

 

So when Bowdren put together his list, he had zero love for Inoki. If you read closely, the praise is for his opponents or the other people involved in the team setting. The only one where you *might* thing he's praising Inoki is the 1987 Ten Man Tag, but really he's not putting over Inoki or Sak there. It's the other guys who made the match. I seem to recall reading a piece he did in the Torch where he talked about that and other top puroresu matches, and the praise on the Inoki side largely went to Muto showing his fighting spirit against the New Leaders.

 

I mean... look at the comment on the Brody match. Brody was at his best there. We're talking about a Brody Fan, which should be obvious looking at the rest of the list.

 

 

John

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Maybe they were just pissed off that casual fans would pay in hordes to watch a product which they thought was second-rate?

There was a sentiment like this at the time.

 

There sure was. Me and a buddy of mine went to Starrcade 86 in Greensboro, my Dad drove us there from New Jersey to go to the show and I had scored third row seats. At some point in the show we were talking to a dude who was also from the Philly area and started talking about shit from the show thus far, and rumors from the Observer, and then he asked us what show we were gonna see in Philly the next month or whatever as NWA had a Bunkhouse Stampede main event in the Civic Center and WWF had a card at the Spectrum. We had already gotten our tics for the WWF and when we, two freaking 16 year old kids told this grown man this fact, he got all indignant and upset that we would "miss the Bunkhouse Stampede to see HULK FUCKING HOGAN." and he walked away in disgust. We were both like, "What the hell?"
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I think somebody at some point compiled all of these matches into one set, because I remember about 12 years ago, a friend of mine told me that he kept trying to watch this set, but would always fall asleep during the Choshu/Khan match. Not sure if the matches on the set are complete or just clip jobs, though.

Jeff himself did a comp. It was very 80s/early 90s VQ, which was spotty at time. In the day, people wanted to "see" stuff rather than get overly worked up about VQ. Use to drive me crazy to see the horrendous Yohe had gotten on some older tapes, or Hoback got from some of Meltzer's tapes. But that was semi-accepted in the days. You had to have horrific VQ before people were totally up in arms, with the one example everyone from those days remembers being the "Rogers Memorial Tribute Tape" that Lano put out. Hell, I don't know if any of those exist anymore so that we could see just what people were bitching about. Had to be off the chart bad. :)

 

Only Munari has strong VQ off a lot of his K-Tapes, and then Lynch started to change how people viewed things.

 

Anyway... Bowdren's set was whatever was available at the time. TV version, or the rare commecial version like New Japan's 1987 summer tape.

 

Don't know in what form he had the Slaughter & Kernodle vs. Steamboat & Youngblood. Possibly only what might have aired on TV, which would have probably been clips towards the finish since it was a title change and pretty important... some bit of it must have aired.

 

I'd not - even if he didn't have the full thing on the tape (which is almost certainly the case), it's entirely possible that Jeff actually saw the match on tape. Cornette took a variety of thing from the vaults back then for his own viewing, a big chunk of which ended up on the Cornette Tapes. It's possible that like Private Nelson, he also wandered off with a copy of the famous big match (and other pro shoot stuff from the 80s). And that at one of those get togethers that hardcores had in the era Jimbo was a part of it, and brought that.

 

Maybe.

 

John

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When Nelson's copy of Final Conflict surfaced, I'm pretty sure that Dave mentioned in the WON that nobody had ever seen a copy and it was the holy grail, though he had heard of the possibility that Nelson had it. Given Dave's closeness to Bowdren & Cornette, I would guess that if either of them had a copy, Dave would've seen it before Nelson went public. I would think he wouldn't have been lied about not having seen it or known of its existence since he's open about stuff like having gotten a copy of Bret-Magee from the WWE offices.

 

I don't think anything aired on TV either, otherwise there wouldn't have been the fuss about the finish missing on Nelson's copy and then Kernodle releasing it using HIS copy, which appeared to be a dub of Nelson's made before the finish was lost. Since Nelson's copy had the better picture quality, a trader that I know spliced the finish from Kernodle's into the Nelson version with perfect frame accuracy using Womble MPEG VCR.

 

As far as the Bowdren list compilation, I know that it's been a long-standing goal of our buddy Dan to collect every (possible, so no Luger-Steamboat from Philly unless a previously unseen handheld was shot) match on the list in 1st generation or better quality to try to compile eventually. I believe he's down to just needing upgrades of Ware/Austin vs Gilbert/Rich (possibly a lost cause, as if Munari's the original source, the person with most of his Memphis doesn't have the original, so it either vanished, Steve kept it, or Bob has it among the Munari stuff hidden in his house) and an possibly AJW match I'm forgetting the specifics of (he may have that now on his giant AJW set).

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