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Antonio Inoki v Dusty Rhodes


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Antonio Inoki v Dusty Rhodes - NJPW 11/08/79


Who would have ever known Dusty Rhodes could be such an effective in-ring heel? I don't know that I would have, but here he is, trying to get in a sneak attack, having Inoki startle him and bailing ... all before the opening bell! The strutting, chairshots, and drunken selling go a long way in establishing this as well. Inoki is fun on the mat also, and this isn't a match that I'd expect to be as good as it is considering the performers and their reputations, but I guess that goes to show that sometimes, reputation isn't everything. The story is ongoing of Dusty missing elbows when he attempts them, and he has a way of creating a hesitation in Inoki whenever he threatens to use it, so in that sense, they do a great job putting over the bionicism, or whatever you want to call it, of those elbow shots. Dweem focuses most of his early stuff around Inoki's arm and has mixed results, especially when he gets caught trying to use the ropes for leverage. The crowd starts rallying behind Inoki, which causes Dusty to show some awesome facials, putting over the concern or the idea that he's fighting an unstoppable tide. There are admittedly a few awkward moments, specifically when they both go sailing over the top rope.


Inoki focuses his attack primarily on Dusty's leg, but Dusty is the one who's mostly dominant here. It makes the comebacks, however, the most fun part of the match, as Inoki has far more offense at his disposal, such as the piledriver, standing dropkick and the octopus, and Dusty's stuff is a little less credible and a little more dramatic, which admittedly works, but would work better if he was able to switch gears a little more and seem a little more threatening, especially when he's not doing something with his elbow; the boxing shuffle and American heel stuff is great fun, but it doesn't ever really translate to Inoki being in a great deal of danger. Speaking of those elbows, he finally lands starts landing them with some accuracy as the match progresses, specifically when he hiptosses Inoki out of the abdominal stretch. Inoki's comeback also features some terrific headbutts and the match ends up spilling outside, where it would ultimately stay until the double countout finish. Surprisingly fun match, despite some of the limitations.


***, 13:49

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