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Antonio Inoki v Dusty Rhodes


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Antonio Inoki v Dusty Rhodes - NJPW 11/01/79


This match relies more on big moments than the rematch would, but this is still a fun outing. What I mean by that is that they sacrifice some of the coherency to work a few bigger and more meaningful sequences, which makes the match very fun, even if I do still prefer the rematch. There's a much faster pace to start out with Dusty doing what he can to frustrate Inoki, but being unable to turn that into anything resembling control. He quickly realizes this and bails, and Inoki catches him immediately upon his return to take him down with a front facelock. Dusty has flashes of success -- he tries to work over Inoki's arm and does momentarily, but Inoki quickly turns that against him by grinding his elbow against Dusty's face! This gives him the opening he needs to go back to the front facelock, which is some pretty smart stuff. Not that the point needed emphasizing, but Dusty and Inoki's differences are clearly established through the work in the match -- Inoki breaks clean, Dusty doesn't; Inoki stays calm while Dusty paces and gets desperate; Inoki is in his element and Dusty is clearly out of his, totally unable to get anything going in his favor. In fact, Inoki again goes for the arm after working a bearhug, and Dusty yet again backs off.


He comes back and starts in on Inoki's knee, but admittedly, he's not really putting this over like he could be -- it's Inoki who's great when the leg hold is locked in, constantly struggling to get out, looking around trying to find an opening however he can. He tries grabbing Dusty's arm again, since it's available, but Dusty isn't letting go of the leg. Finally, Dusty tries a spinning toehold, but that leads to Inoki kicking him away and creating just enough of an opening to move back in on Dusty's arm. Rhodes is doing what he can, but it's not enough -- he tries reversing into pinfalls several times, but Inoki reverses his reversals and yet again, Dusty bails, this time by going to the ropes. A mean streak comes out of Rhodes at this point, as he realizes he can't outwrestle Inoki, so he decides to outbrawl him. The match spills outside and Dusty drops him on the ringside table and gets in some really good elbows before going back in and getting a vertical suplex and a backbreaker. We see some semblance of desperation now, with Inoki putting his leg on the ropes, which is all he can muster.


Inoki does come back with some great dropkicks, but he abandons all of Dusty's leg work at that point, and that's when the match becomes spotty, although they do follow it up with a nice revenge spot with Inoki throwing Dusty outside into the table before taking him back in and attempting a surfboard (!! -- on *Dusty*), but he can't get the move executed. Dusty rolls out and showboats over his mini-accomplishment, and Inoki takes the opportunity to immediately zone back in on the leg, but at this point, the match is more of a brawl, and Inoki can't outbrawl Rhodes. This sounds like the superior match to 11/08, and parts of it are definitely better, but this is a case where less was more. There's lots of limb work here, but it's not really building to anything. Dusty's suplexes and Inoki's dropkicks look superb, but there's no pin attempt made after either move, and they don't ever expand on the base they established. Neither shows any ill effects of the matwork, which I enjoyed greatly, but the cumulative effects of it were shaken off when they switched into high gear. This is just as fun as the other match, but to get to that point, they had to sacrifice some of the logic, which is why I prefer the other match more. Whereas that match was more of a mutual effort, Inoki appeared to be carrying things in this one, and even he seemed directionless at times.


***, 16:58

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