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10-man elimination tag


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Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Super Strong Machine v Antonio Inoki, Keiji Muto, Seji Sakaguchi, Osamu Kido & Yoshiaki Fujiwara - 08/20/87 (NJPW)


This is elimination rules, and eliminations can come either by pinfall, submission or touching the floor. The touch-the-floor stipulation actually works against this match more than anything, because it seems to be a gimmick of convenience, a way Inoki, Maeda and Choshu can avoid doing jobs or putting anyone over. This is definitely the most action-packed heavyweight match I've ever seen; to put it in perspective, there were *26* tags before the first decision, which took place at about the 12-minute mark. Inoki/Maeda was obviously the showdown everyone wanted to see, as their interaction got the largest reaction of the night. The two of them tumbling over the ropes at the same time was actually the right booking in the long term, because it continues to hype to a match between them (that wouldn't happen) without either guy losing in the buildup.


When a match is this full of action and it's this frenetic, the rules are basically being changed to fit the participants, which admittedly works. So, therefore, it's not the selling that's important, it's the pacing, and the pacing is off the charts. My favorite performer in this match was actually Kengo Kimura. He seems more determined, more focused and more energetic than anyone in the match, which considering the energy level of everyone involved is really saying something. The match seems to be more of a collection of altercations of those who have ongoing feuds, but there aren't really any notable payoffs. This match is more about staying the course and providing great action than settling anything.


The first chance they have to really create something special is when Keiji Muto is left alone against Choshu and Fujinami. It's the young guy against two of the biggest stars in the company, and now, we'll see if he can defy the odds. The fans are desperate to buy into this, but the workers don't really play off of it at all, with Choshu and Fujinami taking turns torturing young Muto without really giving him any comebacks or hope spots to speak of. Choshu then somehow joins the ongoing fracas outside of the eliminated participants, which takes him out of the match and leaves Fujinami to quickly and anti-climatically dispose of Muto for the win. They had the opportunity to do so much more than they did here, and that's not to say the match is disappointing from an entertainment perspective, because it isn't; but it had everything it needed to be one for the ages, and didn't quite make it to that level.


Normally, I don't weigh the length of a match as a major strength or detriment, unless it actively takes away from the match. If you can build a great match in five minutes, then do it. That said, sometimes, matches are far too short to be dramatic and maximize the work, no matter how great they are. 27-minute matches don't normally receive this sort of criticism, but considering everything they were doing, they could have run twice this long, or even longer, and accomplished even more. The action still put this over the top, though.



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