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Takuan
May 6, 2007


In the spirit of the Money In The Bank: A Chronological Review and the Rarity Watches threads, Iím going to watch every Highly Recommended match form @MrLariatoís NJPW Recommended Viewing spreadsheet. Itís a journey Iíve been wanting to embark on for a while, so, I figure I might as well make a thread. Best case it helps motivate me to get through the list and provides entertainment and interesting discussion for the readers, worst case I get bored and wander offit turns out like every other goon project. Iím not going to do an in-depth recap of every match. That volume of effort will undoubtedly lead to burnout, and a slow update pace.

Iím going to call the project complete once I get up to Wrestle Kingdom IV in 2012, the last show before Kazuchika Okada wins the IWGP Heavyweight title for the first time. I feel like this is a good stopping point because itís pretty much the beginning of the modern NJPW era, and Iíve already seen most of the matches on the list past that point anyway.

Letís get started with
Antonio Inoki(c) vs Andre The Giant for the NWF Heavyweight Title
December 15, 1974 in Sao Paolo, Brazil

This match ran almost 20 minutes from bell to bell. 10 of those minutes were spent with Andre working a hammerlock on Inoki. Andre spent 5 of those minutes repeatedly arguing with the referee because...? And the last 5 minutes were spent with Inoki working an armbar on Andre, which led to the admittedly cool moment when Andre lifted Inoki onto his shoulders and then they both tumbled out of the ring. And that was the finish. They spent a few seconds struggling outside, with Inoki struggling to get back into the ring, kicking away from Andre, and as soon as Inoki was in the ring the ref called for the bell, claiming the match to be a Double Ring-Out. Iím not sure if it was because they were both disqualified for going over the top rope, or because they were both counted out, or what.

Things like this are why it amazes me that wrestling was a profitable business in the old days. The pace is slow, when something does happen itís not really that interesting, and almost every major match ends with an inconclusive finish. I can appreciate the massive innate charisma both men have, and itís nice seeing Andre at a point where heís not visibly struggling to stay standing, but, man. This was a slog.

Next up:
Antonio Inoki(c) vs Billy Robinson for the NWF Heavyweight Title
December 11, 1975

The location of this match isnít provided, so Iím assuming it took place in Parts Unknown. I have no idea who Billy Robinson is, though I think Iíve heard the name and oh god this video is an hour and 17 minutes long. I donít know if Iíll be able to make it. This project might be over before I finish the first post. I think Iím gonna write this as I watch. It may be the only way I can get through it.

The video opens with a ceremony of, I think, the unveiling of a new belt to represent the NWF Heavyweight Championship. Everyone involved gets a bouquet, even the ref, which is nice, because theyíre so often unappreciated in these types of ceremonies. And they both get dolls! Giant, elaborate, probably really expensive, dolls!

They donít do this kinda needlessly elaborate pageantry before title matches anymore, but they should. This presentation is followed by the national anthems of both Japan and the United Kingdom. All told itís 8 minutes, 30 seconds of pre-match ritual before the bell. I feel it should be noted that Billy Robinson is wearing red-striped tube socks under his boots, and his.. manager(?) trainer(?) reminds me a lot of Bob Hoskins. The early few minutes features brisk mat wrestling, and is already more interesting than most of the Andre/Inoki match. Three minutes in, and Robinson hits an actual wrestling move(side suplex). Iím passing the ďTen-Minutes PassĒ mark, and so far this has been pretty good. Theyíre keeping an interesting pace, doing some great, methodical mat wrestling.

Robinson belly-to-belly suplexes Inoki, sending them both out of the ring. If this ends with another double-ring out, I quit. OK, theyíre both back in at 19, this project rolls on. The match was successfully retaining my interest until this seated armbar segment. Itís gone on so long with nothing happening other than Inoki trying to get up every minute or so itís really difficult to stay focused and my mind keeps wandering off. Alright, they brought me back with a armbar reversed into a headlock reversed into a headscissors reversed into an Indian Deathlock sequence.

I canít tell if thatís Lou Thesz in the audience and the announcers are pointing him out, or itís just a guy that looks like Lou Thesz and the announcers are saying ďHey, that guy looks like Lou TheszĒ.
That might have been the best non-tilt-a-whirl backbreaker Iíve ever seen in wrestling. Robinson lifted Inoki up like he was going for a backdrop suplex or atomic drop, then slammed him down on his knee. Iíd make a gif, but
ď20 Minutes PassĒ and Iím realizing I still have a long way to go in this video.

When the game freezes mid-animation.
They stayed in this position for almost a minute and I canít figure out what was the purpose or who was supposed to be getting hurt.

I never understood how or why doing a headstand is supposed to free you from a headscissors hold. ď30 Minutes PassĒ and this headscissors spot is still going. The pace finally picks up once Robinson manages to escape, leading to the two trading dropkicks, ending in a rare mid-match handshake between the two competitors. Cobra Twist is a way cooler name than ĎAbdominal Stretchí and it needs to make a comeback.
Oh, man, that was an ugly tombstone. Inoki got dropped flat on his head.
What!? Inoki spent an interminable amount of time trying to get Robinson into a boston crab, Robinson twisted out of it then got Inoki into a backslide. I was just amount to make a comment about how this was the biggest pop a backslide would get until Genki Horiguchi came around when the ref counted to three and raised Robinsonís arm! Thereís still a half an hour left in this video? Wait, theyíre not going through the post-match victory stuff. Theyíve gone back to their corners, Inoki is being toweled down while Robinson sips what looks to be a beer. The bell has rung again and theyíre back at it. Is this a 2-out-of-3 falls match? They really need to specify this poo poo at the beginning of the match, or at least in the video title.

Robinson had Inoki in a rear wristlock, Inoki elbows him with his free arm and Robinson launches himself over the top rope. I know I said doing gifs was too much , but this is too rediculous


ď50 Minutes PassĒ and the intensity of the match has picked up. Theyíve mostly been doing moves since Robinson climbed back into the ring, instead of working submissions. Robinson looks like heís about to die. He looked exhausted 15 minutes ago, now his face is all pale. Heís spending most of the time in-between moves trying to catch his breath. Inoki, in comparison, looks like he could easily go another 50 minutes. Robinson keeps taking breaks in the corners and Iím not sure if heís selling or genuinely needs the rest to keep going. Iím legit impressed Inoki can do a back-bridge then withstand Robinsonís weight coming down on him this late in a match. Just past the 60 minute mark, and the pace and intensity has increased mildly. Theyíve traded slaps, european uppercuts, and suplexes. Inoki locks on the Octopus Stretch and the crowd immediately jumps to their feet. Robinson submits to the Octopus Stretch and the ring is swarmed by guys in red jumpsuits checking on the two men.

The third fall starts with Inoki hitting a trip of dropkicks. Robinson deftly dodges the fourth by backing up slightly. They start trading blows with Inokiís back to the ropes and the bell rings? What? The ring boys jump in to separate them. A 2-out-of-3 falls match with a time limit finish. What kind of bullshit is this? The audience sounds pissed too. People are starting to leave while two giant trophies are being carried to the ring. If that doesnít sum up this experience, I donít know what else does. The video just kinda fades out as Billy Robinson hoists up one of the giant trophies.

Man, that wasÖ That was something. Something pointless. As much as people, well, bitter old-timers, like to complain that Ďkids these days donít know nothiní about psychology and rassle like itís a vidya gameí, this is the closest Iíve seen to a real-life Fire Pro Wrestling match. They just kinda did stuff for an hour without any kinda rhyme or reason or story or progression. Some of the individual segments were interesting, and the last, I dunno, 10-15 minutes were actually kinda good, but overall it was just tedious. Somehow being a 2-out-of-3 fall match makes the time limit finish even more of a cop out.

If youíve gotten this far, thanks for reading my first steps in whatís looking to be a long, long road. And if you havenít read this far, thatís cool too. Spend your time how you see fit. Hopefully Iíll be back sooner rather than later with Tatsumi Fujinami vs The Dynamite Kid for the WWF Junior-Heavyweight Championship

Edit: Added a link to the spreadsheet up top.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 03:04

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Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



w/r/t Robinson/Inoki, the ring announcer did say 'Rokujuppun, sanbon shobu', which does mean 60 minute 2/3 falls match, but yeah, Lariato could've been clearer in the spreadsheet there.

Anyway, good writeups. I never much liked those two matches - when I saw Inoki/Robinson I turned it off after the second fall because there was five minutes left and I couldn't be hosed seeing it go to a draw. I admit that I'm also not that well versed in 70s wrestling, but I agree that from what I've seen, the pacing tends to be glacially slow as you say. I saw a 2/3 falls match from AJPW in 1977 between Mil Mascaras and Jumbo Tsuruta a few weeks ago, and it was 34 minutes of them trading holds without much payoff until the end. I dunno, maybe that style just takes getting used to, but in comparison to stuff from the years ahead...idk.

Also, for the benefit of everyone else reading the thread, here's the spreadsheet in question. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...a7pI/edit#gid=0

Venomous fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 11:21

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

It's very difficult to place yourself in the context of those times. Wrestling was supposed to be much closer to an athletic contest and a wrestling match, clean finishes between major stars were very rare (especially in Japan) and the style was much less reliant on bumps and high spots. Billy Robinson was one of the most revered technical wrestlers and shooters of the time and that match with Inoki was a classic in its time. It went an hour because that's just how things were, draws were much more common.

It also set the stage for Baba to raid Robinson and pay him a ton of money to lose to him clean in their first meeting.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


I understand having to put these matches in the context of the style of the time, but I feel like even if I was living in in the time these matches took place I would still feel these matches were far too slow and boring compared to other combat sports of the time, like boxing or sumo. 1975 was the same year as Muhammed Ali vs Joe Frazier, which had a much more active pace than either of these matches. For the sake of comparison I looked up some sumo matches from this time and those were way more fun to watch than these matches. I've seen, and enjoyed, a lot of old, slow paced, hour-long matches- NWA Flair/Rhodes/Race type stuff. But these were slow and uneventful even by those standards.

ribtstu
Feb 11, 2017


all the good stuff is in the 80s when maeda is destorying choshu's face and poo poo

ribtstu fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 03:43

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

Takuan posted:

I understand having to put these matches in the context of the style of the time, but I feel like even if I was living in in the time these matches took place I would still feel these matches were far too slow and boring compared to other combat sports of the time, like boxing or sumo. 1975 was the same year as Muhammed Ali vs Joe Frazier, which had a much more active pace than either of these matches. For the sake of comparison I looked up some sumo matches from this time and those were way more fun to watch than these matches. I've seen, and enjoyed, a lot of old, slow paced, hour-long matches- NWA Flair/Rhodes/Race type stuff. But these were slow and uneventful even by those standards.

Flair was considered a dude who worked way too fast and did too much in his matches. 1975 was the year Flair had his plane crash, so you aren't comparing Flair performances from the same year. Dusty... well, you are comparing someone who was extremely limited and excelled in brawls vs a 60 minute draw so, that's a weird comparison. When I compare this to the Sammartino/Baba 60 minute draw it compares very favorably (and that match is also very good) and feels similar to matches of that length from guys like Bockwinkel. Billy Robinson was an incredibly respected and important figure in puro so I really don't think you are comparing it fairly.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Itís 9am, I got less than 4 hours of sleep last night, and I just finished watching todayís G1 matches. Now seems like as good a time as any to press onward.

But first Iíd like to clarify and elaborate on my thoughts of the Inoki/Robinson match. I didnít hate the match. Iíve seen much, much worse. And there were some great sequences. But even taking into consideration that that pace was the style of the time for wrestling, I feel like itís still slow and uneventful compared to other combat sports of the same time period, like boxing. Even if you take the pacing out of the equation, I still felt like there was no kind of story, or psychology, or even cause and effect through the match. Isnít that what they say made this era great? They may not be fast paced, or have flashy moves, but they have great psychology, and tell stories in the ring, and so on. There was none of that in the match. Or if there was, it was too subtle for me to pick up on it. There was nothing like ďRobinson is working Inokiís left leg so he wonít be able to hook on the Octopus Stretch.Ē or ďInoki is faster and stronger but Robinson is craftier and more creative.Ē No real sense of progression or escalation. No callbacks to earlier in the match. It was just 2 guys doing moves for an hour. You could take each sequence from the match, shuffle their order randomly, and it wouldnít make a difference. Thatís the last Iím going to say about this match, or 70s wrestling in general, Ďcuz Iím moving on to the 80s.

Tatsumi Fujinami(c) vs Dynamite Kid for the WWF Junior Heavyweight Title
February 5, 1980. Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium


Tatsumi Fujinami is a name Iíve heard a lot but know nothing about, other than that heís one of the few(maybe the first) to graduate from Junior Heavyweight to Heavyweight and find success as a Heavyweight. According to this list, Iíll be seeing quite a bit of him in the future.

Dynamite Kid, Iíve seen quite a few matches of, both as a part of the British Bulldogs in the WWF, and his matches with The Original Tiger Mask. Thing is, itís been so long I donít really remember any of them. Dynamite Kid is also a great example of the conundrum wrestling fans face: How do you deal with someone whoís a great performer but a terrible human?

One of my favorite things in wrestling is how the WWF forgot they had a Junior Heavyweight title and it kinda bounced around Mexico and Japan through the 80s and 90s until the J-Crown tournament reminded the WWF it existed and took it back.

Before the match starts, I want to point out how weird Kidís proportions are. He makes the ring look tiny, but somehow he also looks tiny.


This was a pretty good match. Arguably better than some of the G1 matches I saw earlier today. Fans threw streamers during Fujinamiís introduction, which I didnít think went back that far. I thought it came around during the early 90s. I also didnít know over-the-top-rope dives were this old either, as late in the match Fujinami threw himself over the top rope and Dynamite Kid just walked away. Apparently this is where Kevin Owens got it from. Thatís something I think is great and interesting about wrestling: the history and lineage of everything. You can see the influence of previous generations in younger wrestlers and sometimes you can even trace a path of influence going back generations. Watching Dynamite Kid you can really see the influence he had on Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan.

Overall, this match wouldnít seem too out of place on a modern show. The moveset used was relatively simplistic compared to todays matches, and there were a few things that have fallen out of style(tests of strength, fist drops), but in terms of pacing and intensity and stuff it holds up pretty well.

I wasnít able to get a good sense of Tatsumi Fujinami as this was one of those matches where the face spends 90% of the time getting beat up and then wins out of the blue. Between his look, and what little I did see, he reminded me a lot of a Young Lion. I do appreciate that the match ended with an actual wrestling-style pinning combination. Iím not sure what the technical name for it is. Here, have a gif to explain it better than I can.


Itís something I wish youíd see more often today, at least on undercard matches.

In conclusion, while I wouldnít recommend going out of your way to see this match, unless you have a specific interest in Dynamite Kid, it was still a good watch. Next on the list is Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen. If thereís something on the list that isnít Highly Recommended but you think is interesting enough to be worth checking out, or you think it deserves to be Highly Recommended, let me know and Iíll take it under advisement. Iím already planning on watching a few matches that arenít Highly Recommended, but pique my interest(Like Hogan/Abdullah The Butcher).

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

Takuan posted:

Itís 9am, I got less than 4 hours of sleep last night, and I just finished watching todayís G1 matches. Now seems like as good a time as any to press onward.

But first Iíd like to clarify and elaborate on my thoughts of the Inoki/Robinson match. I didnít hate the match. Iíve seen much, much worse. And there were some great sequences. But even taking into consideration that that pace was the style of the time for wrestling, I feel like itís still slow and uneventful compared to other combat sports of the same time period, like boxing. Even if you take the pacing out of the equation, I still felt like there was no kind of story, or psychology, or even cause and effect through the match. Isnít that what they say made this era great? They may not be fast paced, or have flashy moves, but they have great psychology, and tell stories in the ring, and so on. There was none of that in the match. Or if there was, it was too subtle for me to pick up on it. There was nothing like ďRobinson is working Inokiís left leg so he wonít be able to hook on the Octopus Stretch.Ē or ďInoki is faster and stronger but Robinson is craftier and more creative.Ē No real sense of progression or escalation. No callbacks to earlier in the match. It was just 2 guys doing moves for an hour. You could take each sequence from the match, shuffle their order randomly, and it wouldnít make a difference. Thatís the last Iím going to say about this match, or 70s wrestling in general, Ďcuz Iím moving on to the 80s.



I just don't understand comparing it to boxing. Boxing historically was more action packed than wrestling, why would it matter? Kickboxing is more action packed than any combat sport but after the peak of K1 it has never recovered. In the early 1900s boxing was two dudes constantly punching each other in the face while wrestling was two dudes stalling for three hours. Wrestling was more popular.

Feels Villeneuve
Oct 7, 2007

Kanye West - Touch the Sky


FWIW my absolute favorite match of that 70s (well, it was 1969) era is Giant Baba vs. The Destroyer. 60 minutes of absolutely compelling mat wrestling that you just don't see anymore. If you want another entry point into that style, Baba/Destroyer is as good a match as any.

Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



Takuan posted:

If thereís something on the list that isnít Highly Recommended but you think is interesting enough to be worth checking out, or you think it deserves to be Highly Recommended, let me know and Iíll take it under advisement. Iím already planning on watching a few matches that arenít Highly Recommended, but pique my interest(Like Hogan/Abdullah The Butcher).

I know you said that you've seen the whole Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid feud, but I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on those matches in detail tbh.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Takuan posted:

Tatsumi Fujinami(c) vs Dynamite Kid for the WWF Junior Heavyweight Title
February 5, 1980. Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium


I remember really enjoying this match, and also being taken about how modern it feels. My first exposure to Dynamite was as part of the British Bulldogs in the 80s for WWF, so its really fun to see him during that time period where he proved such an influence on the likes of Benoit and later Daniel Bryan.

Stan Hansen is going to be a real treat

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Alright, Iím doing another one because well, what can I say. I donít really have much going on this weekend.

I was planning on reviewing Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kidís 5-star match from April of 1983. I donít want to get too much into it now, but when I was first getting in to the internet wrestling community, those matches were regarded as hugely influential. Over the past several years, though, I havenít really seen them mentioned or talked about the same way people talk about other popular and influential people and matches from this era. Then again, maybe people are talking about them and Iím just not seeing it. Itís a big internet out there. Iím really surprised none of the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid matches are Highly Recommended on this list, especially the 5-Star match. Sure, theyíre recommended, but theyíre not Highly Recommended. Going over the whole feud, I think, is beyond the scope of this thread. Iíll see if I canít do some research and summarize the feud when I review the match.

Stan Hansen(c) vs Antonio Inoki for the NWF Heavyweight Championship and also maybe the WWF Martial Arts World Heavyweight Championship?
April 3, 1980. Kuramae Kokugikan

Speaking of research, I canít figure out exactly what titles are on the line for this match. NJPWís title for this match is ďMartial Arts World Heavyweight Championship Bout & Big Fight Series.Ē That makes me think Inokiís WWF Martial Arts World Heavyweight Championship is on the line in this match maybe? Iíve watched the video up to the bell at this point, and Iím not officially sure. Thereís no pre-match pageantry, which is very unusual for what Iíve seen so far. They didnít even do the standard rituals of the ref taking the belt, showing it to the challenger, and then raising it up for the audience. I havenít even seen a championship belt so far. Itís actually kinda jarring. All the previous matches had huge pre-match shows, with tons of people in the ring and lots of announcements and gifts being handed out. This match has nothing but the referee, the ring announcer, and the two workers. One last thing before I start watching the match proper, I donít think Iíve ever seen a full Stan Hansen match. Iím very much aware of his career, reputation, and status as a pop-culture symbol in Japan. If anyone is reading this that doesnít know about Stan Hansen- Heís pretty much the reason lariats are a big deal in Japan. Heís even the reason why they call them Ďlariatsí instead of Ďclotheslinesí like in the west.


Having now watched the match, it was pretty good. It was very much an Early 80s match, in terms of its style and pace and flow. But it was a good watch. For context, Inoki lost the NWF Heavyweight Title to Hansen the previous February via countout. Which is the exact opposite of how I thought countouts worked in title matches. I liked how Hansen broke the initial lockups by clubbing his opponent's arms. Thatíd be a cool thing for, like, EVIL, or somebody, to do. Something Iíve noticed about these old matches(not just the ones Iíve watched for this thread, overall) is that even guys who are mainly brawlers, like Hansen, still do a fair amount of mat wrestling and submission work.

I miss the test of strength. Thereís a lot you could do with it, both from a technical and storytelling perspective. I feel todayís generation of highly innovative wrestlers could do a lot with it. I liked the little moment of Hansen being proud that he goaded Inoki into using a closed fist. All throughout the match you could hear a raspy voice shouting from ringside and I had to remind myself that itís wasnít Gedo. Something that felt very modern in this match was Stan Hansen suplexing Inoki onto the ring apron, followed by Inoki just barely making it back into the ring before the ref counted to 20. Hansen charged Inoki while he was still in the ropes, Inoki ducked, Hansen spilled to the outside, and thenÖ


Old matches donít rely on bumps and highspots indeed . Inoki suplexed Hansen back into the ring to get the 3. Hansen kicked out at 3.1. Dick move, Stan. Then came the pageantry. Tons of people, giant trophies old man reading off a scroll, the whole deal.

Stan Hansen, from his physique, to the way he stands, the way he moves, and the way he fights, is the closest thing to a real life wrestling grizzly bear I think Iíve ever seen. Antonio InokiÖ The more I see of him the more I see his spirit(in terms of wrestling style) in Katsuyori Shibata. Kinda makes the end of his career, as the last remaining standard bearer of Inokiís style of wrestling in NJPW, just a little bit sadder. I mean, besides the fact that Inoki almost ran NJPW into the ground in the early 2000s.

So next time it looks like Iíll be doingÖ Stan Hansen vs Andre The Giant?

Yíknow what? There is absolutely nothing better I could possibly do with the next hour of my life. Letís go.

Andre the Giant vs Stan Hansen
Sept 23, 1981. Denen Coliseum.


Man, I just pulled up the video and from the moment it fades in theyíre already going at it. The sound hadnít even kicked in yet.

*17 Minutes and 8 seconds later*
That was awesome. That was the kind of grand physical spectacle that only the great sport of professional wrestling can provide. I mean, look at this




The crowd was on fire from the moment the sound faded in until the video faded out. By far the loudest crowd Iíve seen so far, maybe one of the hottest sustained crowds Iíve ever seen. Fairly early on in the match, Stan Hansen bodyslams Andre. I couldnít help but notice that this video is from 6 years before Wrestlemania III. Which must mean when Hulk Hogan bodyslammed him in the main event of that show it wasnít the first time anyone had ever bodyslammed Andre the Giant in his entire career. I canít believe either the WWE or Hulk Hogan would try to revise history like that .

But seriously, the match looked like it was going to end in a double-count-out, until the match was restarted due to protests from both men. That made me, and the crowd, very happy. At the end of the match Andre put on a loaded elbow pad which seemedÖ I dunno, beneath him? Needless. Youíre already not just a giant, youíre The Giant. Your elbows should be able to crack a manís skull like a walnut. You donít need to cheat.
The finish came when Andre threw the ref to the ropes then mashed him in the face with that loaded elbow pad. Now that was how you do a non-finish. Both men kept fighting, beating the gently caress out of any referee or ring boy that got in between them.

If you have New Japan World, you should definitely check this match out. If not, I dunno, it might be on youtube or something.

Depending on how things go, I might do Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid, or if I donít have the time or energy to do it properly, Iíll do Hulk Hogan vs Abdullah the Butcher.

Now, one last gif of Stan Hansen dropping an elbow like Iím about to drop into bed.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Jul 31, 2017 around 22:56

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


I cannot recommend highly enough that everybody in the world go watch (or rewatch!) Andre the Giant vs Stan Hansen, holy gently caress is it an amazing match. It's like they're natural enemies in the wild or something, Stan sees Andre and just goes crazy and starts assaulting him and the action just never lets up the whole way through. It's chaotic and enthralling and entertaining as hell.

Benne
Sep 2, 2011

STOP DOING HEROIN

God drat it's awe-inspiring how much Andre could move back when he could ... you know, move. If you only remember him from his WWF run you have to check out his 70s stuff.

RealFoxy
May 11, 2011

Band-aids don't fix arrow wounds


Stan was just this blind-as-a-bat hoss that would attack anything moving without fear and Andre was this massive hulking giant, so this match is like the real unstoppable force meets the immovable object, rather than the metaphorical one with Andre/Hogan.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


When I first discovered that there were people on the internet that not only knew about wrestling stuff from before 1998 but also knew about wrestling outside of the US, the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid feud was one of the most talked about and revered subjects of the past. In terms of Japanese wrestling, it was second only to Misawa & Friends in the 90s, and just ahead of ďHulk Hogan is secretly a really good wrestler, guys. You should see his Japan stuff.Ē Now you donít see it mentioned all that often. I think the reason that might be is because at the time, itís influence was more obvious and those directly influenced by both men were very high profile in the minds of internet wrestling fans and in the years since then a shadow has kinda been cast over both Dynamite Kid and Tiger Maskís legacies.

This was in the early 2000s, I wanna say 2001-2004ish. On the one hand, Dynamite Kid was a huge influence to both Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan Danielson. Benoit was at peak internet-darling, as a great but unappreciated-by-the-companies-he-worked for talent and Bryan was at the heart of the crew that was making ROH a new sensation at the time. On the other hand, the Tiger Mask, as a gimmick, was pretty prestigious. In addition to the fame of the Original Tiger Mask, you had Tiger Mask II as Misawaís origin story, Tiger Mask III went on to become one of the top Junior Heavyweights in New Japan through the 90s and into the 2000s, and Tiger Mask IV was considered one of the best Junior Heavyweights in all of Japan, alongside Jushin Liger, Great Sasuke, and Ultimo Dragon. For the record, though, I never understood what people saw in Tiger Mask IV. Iíve never been impressed by him, and thought Shinjiro Ohtani was way better.

So now, in 2017, everyone knows whatís happened with Benoit and Bryan, and their ring style, taken from Dynamite Kid, was a direct cause. Personally, I think the diving headbutt in specific was a big factor in the brain trauma both men suffered. On the Tiger Mask end of things, all weíve really seen is 15 or so years of Tiger Mask IV being mediocre.

So thatís why I think these matches donít get the love they used to. Like I said previously, reviewing all 6 matches in the feud is a little much, but if youíre interested, 411Mania has an indepth review of the whole series.

To set the stage, and to summarize the 411mania article, the feud started with Tiger Maskís debut in 1981. The gist of the match is that Tiger Mask is too fast for Dynamite Kid, who would try to slow him down with submissions. Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid with a German Suplex. The 2nd match 8 months later went down about the same way, with Tiger Mask again coming out on top with a German Suplex. The third match, that same month, had the same ending. Dynamite Kid wins the 4th match, but itís by DQ so it doesnít really count. The 5th match has Tiger Mask winning, but a German isnít enough, so he uses a Ďtwisting moonsaultí. 6th match was at Madison Square Garden, held under the WWF, and was by all accounts a waste of time, though Tiger Mask won again, with a moonsault. The count for the feud is Tiger Mask 5, Dynamite Kid 1*.

So here we are,
Tiger Mask(c) vs Dynamite Kid
April 21, 1983. Kuramae Kokugikan


This match would not be out of place on a modern wrestling show. If this match happened today, exactly, it would easily make an Honorable Mention in the Match Recommendation Thread. It was a real rollercoaster of storytelling. The first spot of the match was the exact kind of thing that drew me into wrestling. Tiger Mask reversed an armwringer with a series of flips and tumbles immediately followed by a lightning fast somersault by Kid.


Another modern staple makes an appearance: An early-match dive.


Some great athleticism on display in this match.


WHATTAMANUEVER!

The only real criticism I can make in terms of the ring-work is that some of the submissions kinda drags. I felt like they needed more activity to make them engaging. Iíve said it before but you can really see the influence he had in Benoit, even in the way he moves.

For a while in the middle of the match I was very confused. Both Kid and Mask went over the guardrail and the bell immediately rung. Apparently going into the crowd is a DQ? The crowd started chanting what Iím assuming it the Japanese equivalent of ĎBullshit!í. They both got right back into the ring and kept fighting, with Kid hitting a Tombstone Piledriver on Mask. Mask rolls to the outside after some struggling in the ropes and the bell rang again for some reason. I was totally lost at some point. Dynamite Kid got ahold of a microphone and started talking but I couldnít understand him due to the audio quality and the announcers talking over him. He pointed at Tiger Mask, thew up the microphone and started attacking. The referee quickly separated them.

As Mask, Kid, and the crowd argue with the ref to let them keep going. It was at this point, I figured out that they had been disqualified when they went over the guardrail, and the second bell was reminding them that the match was over. The referee made a quick announcement and the bell rung one more time, restarting the match.

A little while after the action continued, the action spilled outside the ring once more. Mask made his way back into the ring while Kid stumbled around ringside. I heard what I thought was another bell, but quickly figured out it was the sound of Dynamite Kid breaking a glass bottle on the ring post.

I donít know what to even say about this.

The referee really wasnít all that bothered by it. Iíve seen refereeís get more pissed about a bottle of water being brought in the ring than this guy got over a jagged bottle. Speaking of the ref, I want to point out this is the toughest referee Iíve seen in any sport. Heís been headbutted twice, elbowed in the face once, and barely sold any of it.

Eventually, though, Kid thinks better of the whole thing and tosses the bottle to the side. The match continues on like Dynamite Kid didnít just try to pull a potentially lethal weapon into things. The finish comes as the match once again spills into the ringside area. Tiger Mask hits Dynamite Kid with Tombstone onto the floor. Kid immediately pops back to his feet and hit Tiger Mask with another Tombstone. Somewhere in Kentucky, a young Jim Cornette is suddenly very angry and he canít figure out why. The match is ruled a double count out as Mask and Kid keep fighting. Mask petitions the ref to keep going while Kid gets back on the microphone to address the crowd. I guess thatís it, though because the video fades out.

As an individual match, I felt like the finish was fine, but as the end of a feud it was terrible. Either let Kid finally get a solid win, or have Tiger Mask prove his superiority once and for all, donít end it with a series of draws within a single match.

In spite of the ending, I really recommend checking this match out. Not only is it a great match on itís own(finish aside), you can really see how it set the tone for the entire future of pro wrestling. Fun fact, this was the first ever Dave Meltzer 5 star match, ďCuz I knew it was changing the gameĒ
.
Next up, is Hulk Hogan vs Abdullah the Butcher, which is probably going to be garbage, but hopefully itíll be fun garbage.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Jul 31, 2017 around 23:00

Bankok
Sep 10, 2004

SPARTA!!!


I went and watched the Andre/Hansen match and it was everything you guys claimed it to be. Such a different Andre than what we saw here in the US. He worked on a body part for christ sakes, I wasn't expecting that.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


I donít know what Iím getting into with this one. I tried doing research on this match to maybe find some context or history behind it, but couldnít find anything. Itís worth noting that this match is from while Hogan was still with the AWA, and is about a week or so before Hulk Hogan would defeat Antonio Inoki to win the first ever International World Grand Prix tournament.

Hulk Hogan vs Abdullah The Butcher
May 26, 1982. Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium


I donít know how this match got on the list. That was an unremarkable nothing of a match. There was a lot of punching, a little bit of stabbing, and an always exciting bear hug. Oh, and Abdullah tried to suplex Hogan, but couldnít get him up all the way, and it turned into a kinda decent brainbuster. It ended with a Double Count Out as both men brawled into the crowd. The Japanese audience looked really amused when Hulk and Abdullah fought through them. Hogan bled a lot, so that was kinda cool.

And Abdullahís selling of the Axe Bomber was actually pretty great.


But other than that this match was a total waste of time.
Yíknow, I wonder if Abdullah has little pockets inside his pants for his forks and stuff. Surely they canít be held in place by just the elastic waistband.


Next up is a whole series of Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu from 1983.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


That sell-job is loving awesome

Gonzo McFee
Jun 19, 2010

Your voice may have changed but your breath is still the same.

My goodness, Hot Stuff!


Have to say I love Hogan Vs Abdullah for the sheer names on a dartboard feel it has to it. It's like watching a fight between Captain America and some gross Garth Ennis character that's invariably a sex offender.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


I'm looking over the whole of the spreadsheet and it's interesting how you can see the ebb and flow of NJPW by the amount of matches listed for each year. The number of matches-per-year grows through the 80s, into the 90s, peaking in 94-96, before waning slightly through the rest of the 90s. Then the rate plummets until bottoming out at 2008 with only 3 matches.

Platypus Farm
Jul 12, 2003

Francis is my name, and breeding is my game. All bow before the fertile smut-god!


Duh, abdullah kept his forks under his manatee tits man, come on!

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Tatsumi Fujinami and Riki Choshu fought each other 4 times in 1983, each time for the WWF International Heavyweight Title. This was a title that originated in the late 40s, was deactivated in the late 50s, and revived in 1982 as a part of New Japanís partnership with WWF. The title was only briefly defended on US soil before Tatsumi Fujinami won it in August of 82 and took it back home to Japan where it would stay until New Japan and the WWFís relationship dissolved in 1985.

Iíve seen a couple matches involving Riki Choshu, but they were all recent. I know of him only as a bloated old man with high-waisted trunks and slicked back hair, hobbling around the ring and chopping the gently caress out of people, so it should be fun to see him in his prime.

From my research, this feud originated when Choshu, who felt he wasnít getting the respect from Fujinami and Inoki that he felt he deserved after winning the UWA World Heavyweight Title, turned on Fujinami during a tag match. Itís a classic rebel vs establishment feud. But itís the 80s and Japan so the rebel is a heel and the establishment is the face. This is also the first ever native vs native feud in New Japan, bucking the usual native vs. foreigner style of feuds.

Tatsumi Fujinami(c) vs Riki Choshu for the WWF International Heavyweight Title
April 2, 1983. Kuramae Kokugikan.


That was good, but not great. Solid, but not spectacular. A textbook example of this style of wrestling. You can tell whoís the heel and whoís the face just by their haircuts. Fujinamiís is neatly combed, Choshu has an untamed mullet. It started with a bang, Choshu attacking Fujinami before the bell, leading to a double-lariat. After that, it was a standard 80s Inoki Strong Style match. A lot of mat wrestling and submissions, a decent amount of kicking and slapping, towards the end it picked up steam with a spirited series of big(for the era) moves, and counters, and finish-teases, ending with Choshu getting the win with a Lariat. Hot drat, a clean finish. It was also kinda cool seeing a Scorpion Deathlock in its natural habitat. My memory might be wrong, but Choshu seems to get way lower with it than Sting ever did, making the victim look way more scorpion-like.

The pinfall itself was pretty interesting, with Fujinami struggling against Choshu, then Choshu put more of his weight on Fujinami while the ref finished the count.

This was the motivation for Fujinami challenging Choshu to a rematch.

This was a good match, I enjoyed watching it, and it was nice seeing a completely clean match for once. But there was nothing about it, or either participant, that really stood out. Interestingly, this match was voted Tokyo Sportís Best Bout for 1983, yet itís the only match in the series that isnít Highly Recommended on the spreadsheet.

Riki Choshu(c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF International Heavyweight Title
April 21, 1983. Kuramae Kokugikan


This match is on the same show as the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid match reviewed earlier. No Big Dave Star ratings that I can find for this, though. It was moderately better than the previous match, but still nothing amazing. It was more spirited and intense, overall, than the last match. Even during the mat wrestling and submission work. The crowd was hotter too.

It had a much better sense of telling a story, both as a match and as a part of an ongoing feud. Choshu spent most of the match going after Fujinamiís injured knee. Pretty good sequence with Chosu trading stomps and kicks.


A little bit after this there was a picture-in-picture of the announcer and Inoki that went on way too long.

Choshu wins by countout. Itís an inconclusive finish, but itís much more of a ďTo Be ContinuedĒ finish than a ďnobody wants to jobĒ finish. Choshu was deliberately trying to win via countout, first hitting Fujinami with a lariat on the outside and hoping that would work, then hanging him up by his injured knee on the guardrail.


Post-match sees Fujinami trying to continue to fight, but he can barely stand. Ring boys surround him, trying to protect him as Chosu keeps stomping at his bad knee. Eventually, Inoki himself enters the ring to help separate them.

Riki Choshu(c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF International Heavyweight Title
July 7, 1983. Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium


I donít have a whole lot to say about this one. Itís good, all of these matches have been good, but thereís nothing really spectacular about them. This one was not as fast-spirited as the last one. With Fujinami seeming more eager to fight and Choshu being more methodical and slow paced, they did a great job of illustrating the old title match dynamic you never see anymore: The challenger has to beat the champion to win the title, but the champion doesnít have to beat the challenger to retain.

There was a man on the phone in the front row.

He stayed on the phone for almost the entire match.

I donít understand the ending. Fujinami, both in action and crowd response, is clearly the face in this feud. He puts Choshu in his own finisher, to a good pop, Choshu makes it to the ropes, Fujinami refuses to let go. The referee counts to 5 and disqualifies Fujinami. I do not understand why he would do this, either as a face or as a title challenger.

Afterwards Choshuís seconds comes in and attacks Fujinami, then brawl with a ring boys all while Fujinami refuses to release the hold. Once Fujinami finally lets Choshu go a ring boy held up Fujinamiís arm and the audience cheered like heíd won. Idgi


Riki Choshu(c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF International Heavyweight Title
August 4, 1983. Kuramae Kokugikan

Note: The spreadsheet lists Fujinami as the champion, but Choshu still has the belt.

Best match of the feud, hands down. The crowd was super hot, doing a lot of chanting, it had the same kind of intensity and pace of the second match, and it had some great drama as well. There were some good near-falls, good fighting around ringside, a pretty good ref bump, Fujinami was busted open, I think hardway, while they were fighting outside. There was a great moment when Fujinami had Choshu pinned and Choshu points to his foot on the rope.


Fujinami wins via countout after hitting Choshu with a backdrop suplex on the outside. Apparently, titles can change hands via countout, which is something I was not previously aware of. Research indicates that theyíd have 2 more matches before Choshuís departure, neither of them were that good and both had double-count-out finishes. Iím gonna pretend they didnít happen, and this was the conclusive end to their feud.

If I had to recommend a match, itíd definitely be the last one. On the whole though, even though they were all good, thereís nothing really unique or spectacular about them to be worth going out of your way to watch. Though if you want to see the embodiment of the early-80s NJPW style, all of these matches are a great example.

Shortly after this, Choshu and others would split off from New Japan to form the first(of many) vanity promotions. This new company, Japan Pro-Wrestling, would work with All Japan Pro-Wrestling to do the first(of many) invasion storylines.

Up next is two more Tatsumi Fujinami matches: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Hulk Hogan and Tatsumi Fujinami vs Antonio Inoki.

Willninho
Aug 14, 2007


Is the 4/19/84 gauntlet match on the spreadsheet? Or on NJPW World because that was the best thing from the Choshu/NJPW feud(possibly my favorite match). The Fuji/Choshu matches were all very good but not amazing I thought.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


The 4/19/84 gauntlet match is not on New Japan World, as far as I can tell. If you can find it, share the link and Iíll check it out.

So I was curious about the venue thatís been appearing in most of these videos, Kuramae Kokugikan, and did some research. It was built by the Japanese Sumo Association to host Sumo events in the 50s. It closed down in 1984 to be replaced by the current Ryogoku Sumo Hall.

I believe both of todayís matches are refereed by Lou Thesz.
Hulk Hogan(c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship
June 11, 1985. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium


Everybody from the early-2000ís Internet Wrestling Community that swore that ďHulk Hogan is actually secretly a really good wrestler. You should see his work from Japan. He does technical stuff!Ē can go gently caress themselves. Yeah, he did some bare-minimum rudimentary technical and matwork type stuff, but he looked clumsy as gently caress doing it.


OK fine that step-over into an armbar was actually kinda cool.


But other than that, it sucked. Hogan wins after awkwardly colliding with Fujinami.

Followed by the laziest 3 count I think Iíve ever seen.

At just over 15 minutes, I think this is the shortest video Iíve seen so far. Yes Iím too lazy to actually verify. It was slightly interesting seeing Hogan in an environment where he couldnít just do his same olí whatcha-gonna-do-brother schtick, and also seeing him face a significantly smaller opponent he actually had to make look good. It may be worth checking out for the novelty of seeing Hulk Hogan in a much different situation than us westerners are used to seeing him, but other than that, this was nothing worth watching.

I need to come up with some kinda goofy, arbitrary rating system for these things.

And speaking of awkward, clumsy technical wrestling...

Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami
September 19, 1985. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium


This match had none of that. It was great. I couldnít find any context or history behind this match, but it didnít need any. It was a fantastic technical match. It was about 35 minutes from bell to bell and the vast majority of the action was on the mat, up until the last 5 minutes or so. I was engaged and entertained the whole time.




I thought the Figure-Four sequence kinda dragged on longer than it shouldíve. It had a great moment where Fujinami is dragging Inoki away from the ropes.


On a structural level, the end sequence wouldnít be out of place in a modern New Japan main event, full of big moves and reversals of big moves.


Inoki wins with 3 consecutive Octopus Stretches. Afterwards, a guy with blonde hair and a black mustache I didnít recognize came in to shake the hands of both men for a big pop. This one is definitely worth checking out.

Fans keep chanting something in the past few matches Iíve watched and I have no idea what it is or what it means. Sounds like ďHora-ko?Ē ďKola-to?Ē the vowels are definitely ďoĒ ďahĒ ďoĒ, but I canít make out the consonants. And I donít know Japanese either so Iím totally in the woods on this.


Next time Iíll begin(and possibly finish) covering the NJPW vs UWF Feud of 1986.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Continuing the trend set by Riki Choshu, in 1984 Akira Maeda and others(including Tiger Mask) left to form the Universal Wrestling Federation, a promotion with an emphasis on working legitimate martial-arts styled matches. By 1985 the company had started to fall apart, primarily due to a philosophical disagreement in the direction of the company between Maeda(submission wrestling) and Tiger Mask(kickboxing) and by 1986, many of the workers folded back in to NJPW. UWF wrestlers were, at first, presented in separate showcase matches under their own rules. The closest comparison I can think of is how the ROH Pure Title had a separate rule set than normal matches.

Information on this series of matches was hard to comeby. What little information thatís out there is overcrowded by stuff about the NJPW/UWFi feud a decade later.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda
February 5, 1986. Osaka-Jo Hall


I couldnít really get into this match. There was no sense of momentum or intensity. It was justÖ a wrestling match. The finish was kinda cool- Fujiwara had Maeda in a leg submission I donít know the name of and Maeda got his arm around Fujiwara for a sleeper and Fujiwara passed out while still maintaining his hold on Maedaís leg.

Antonio Inoki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara
February 7,1986. Ryogoku Kokugikan


I managed to find some context for this match. Fujiwara won a league among UWF wrestlers to determine would challenge Antonio Inoki.

This was a decent match. Inoki did a great job portraying a man defending the pride and honor of the institution he founded. Fujiwara acted like this was just another match. His performance wasnít too different from the previous match I watched with Maeda.

There was some nice pre-match disrespect as Fujiwara tossed aside his honorary bouquet. Early on, Inoki close-fist punches Fujiwara, repeatedly, which is a Big Deal in 1986


Inoki overall shows significantly more fire and aggression than Iíve seen from him in any match so far. He totally carries this match. Fujiwara isnít bad, and he does have a couple good moments, like this dope fisherman buster,

But for a guy representing an invading organization, he doesnít show nearly enough intensity or emotion. The match ends with Inoki applying a good olí fashioned sleeperhold

The post-match was pretty great, as reps from UWF and NJPW started brawling in the ring as fans threw cushions and trash.

On a side note, even though Inoki is 6 years older than Fujiwara, he looks 15 years younger.

If my plan works out, this will be the first of 4 parts covering the NJPW/UWF feud. Next is
Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Kantaro Hoshino vs Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Nobuhiko Takada and the NJPW vs UWF - 5 vs 5 Elimination Tag Match

Takuan fucked around with this message at Aug 10, 2017 around 12:32

Foul Fowl
Sep 12, 2008

Gonzaga Karate is back!


I am enjoying this thread very much, especially with the gifs.

Spermgod
Jan 8, 2012

pink wasn't even a thing why is t#RXT REVOLUTION~!
and i'm so fucking excited for #SCOOPS#SCOOPS#SCOOPS #SCOOPS#SCOOPS #SCOOPS#SCOOPS

he knows..


when you get to 87 this one is essential viewing and i don't think it's on world http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x57u1pj

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Spermgod posted:

when you get to 87 this one is essential viewing and i don't think it's on world http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x57u1pj

I added it to my list.

Tasumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Kantaro Hoshino vs Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Nobuhiko Takada
March 14, 1986. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Before I start, why is there a show called ďNew Yearís WaveĒ in March? Thatís like still having christmas decorations up inÖ well, March.

I know this is gonna sound dumb, but after all these videos of guys wearing nothing but black trunks, a guy wearing blue trunks is a breath of fresh air. And is it me, or are groin kicks a thing in these UWF matches?

The match was overall kinda dull until Fujinami and Maeda tagged in. Iíve heard Yoshiaki Fujiwara mentioned as a great wrestler of this era, and while doing research into this feud, have seen a couple people call him Ďbadassí. Iím not seeing it. Heís been uninteresting in every match Iíve seen him in so far and was the 2nd worst guy in this match, next to Hoshino. This is my first time seeing Nobuhiko Takeda, and he seems pretty cool.


The match ends with all four tagged out participants rushing in to break up a submission. I donít know if itís a double-DQ or a no contest, but it descends into another bench-clearing brawl.

Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, Umanosuke Ueda, and Kantaro Hoshino vs Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido, Nobuhiko Takada, and Kazuo Yamazaki.
NJPW vs UWF - 5 vs 5 Elimination Tag Match
March 26, 1986. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium


Took me a minute to get what Google Translate meant by ĎYili Mi Nation Match.Ē
The elimination rules for this match are pinfall, submission, or by ring out(not just over the top rope). Partially because UWF didnít allow outside of the ring fighting, partially to give an easy out for people that didnít wanna job.

During the pre-match, the crowd was already hotter than it had been for any of the previous UWF matches. It had a kind of tenor to it I donít think Iíve ever heard in a Japanese crowd. They sounded angry. Maeda got a great pop for crossing the ring and offering a handshake to Inoki.
Remember what I said about a guy wearing blue in a world full of black trunks? Well thereís actually a couple guys wearing red in this one. Iím more excited about that than anyone reasonably should be.


The crowd in this match reminds me of peak-monday-night-wars crowds who would go nuts for everything.




Kazuo Yamazaki was out first from a backslide by Kimura. Surprised it wasnít Hoshino, disappointed it wasnít Fujiwara. Hoshino is eliminated second by a leglock from Fujiwara. The same leglock thatís used as a time filler and rest hold in every other match. Kimura is eliminated third after getting kicked by Maeda and rolling out of the ring. It looked just as dumb as it sounds. Fujinami and Fujiwara are double-ringed-out at 27:30.

Ueda drags Maeda out of the ring, after getting probably less than 2 minutes of ring time. Takeda is the next-to-last elimination, submitting to a sleeper hold from Inoki.

Inoki is the winner(surprise) by pinning Osamu Kido after an enzugiri knee.

Iíve never heard of Osamu Kido before, so I was very surprised he was the last UWF guy standing.
At the end the winners got envelopes.

I have no idea whatís in them, so Iím going to assume theyíre gift cards to whatever the 1986 Japanese equivalent to Target is.

The ringwork in this match was solid, but unspectacular. It did keep a pretty fast pace and there were enough twists and turns to keep me thoroughly engaged. Totally not surprised it ended with Inoki winning against 2-to-1 odds tho. It was kinda hard deciding what to gif, though there were some standout moments.

I love the effect the camera flash has on this one.


And Takada still seems pretty cool.

But the intensity of both the crowd and the performers really made this feel like something special. This was the kind of thing Iíd been waiting to see since I started watching these UWF matches. It reminded me a lot of the big NJPW/NOAH tag match from last year.

I recommend checking this one out. If nothing else, just watch the first couple minutes to get a feel for the insane atmosphere of this match.

Next on the list is the big one. The NJPW vs UWF Gauntlet Challenge. I probably wonít get to it until sometime next week.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


The G1 may be over, but thereís still one more show from Sumo Hall I need to watch.
Keichi Yamada, Seiji Sakaguchi, Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, and Tatsumi Fujinami vs Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, Osamu Kido, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, and Akira Maead
NJPW vs UWF - 5 vs 5 Gauntlet Challenge
May 1, 1986. Ryogoku Kokugikan


This is a series of one-on-one matches. When someone loses, the next person from their team comes in for the next round. I donít think Iíve ever seen a gauntlet match with this format. I never really liked gauntlet matches because you knew the winner was going to be one of the last 2 entrants so the early portions of the match didnít really have any kind a point or stakes. This team-based format resolves that problem, so Iím interested to see how this variant of the gauntlet match plays out.

Hey, wasnít this a mode in the first AKI WCW game, but was never in any of the follow up games?

Round 1
Keichi Yamada vs Nobuhiko Takada

The pre-match illustrates how rough it was before projector screens and computer graphics. The team captains hand in envelopes containing their team orders, then some poor guy has to shuffle around looking for the right name plate, apply tape to the back of it and pin it to a big board.


Holy crap does Yamada look young. Iíve seen a few of his pre-mask matches and he looked young in all of those, but not Ďdisturbingly-muscular-elementary-schoolerí young.


Considering the comparative ages, statuses, and experience levels of these two guys, this match was surprisingly competitive. Yamada was definitely the underdog and never seemed like he was going to win, but he had quite a few times where he was in control and got some pretty good offence in.

Though not as much offense as Takada.

Takada wins after Yamada submits to a leglock. Takada showed respect to his opponent with a post-match handshake.
Not a bad match, but nothing special. Kinda cool to see a pre-pre-Jushin Liger though.

Round 2
Seiji Sakaguchi vs Nobuhiko Takada


A short squash match. Sakaguchi wins with a backbreaker rack. A shame as I want to see more of Takada. Like the last match, the winner offers the loser a post-match handshake.

Round 3
Seiji Sakaguchi vs Kazuo Yamazaki

Another squash. Another handshake. This bit was kinda cool though.

Round 4
Seiji Sakaguchi vs Osamu Kido

The shortest match so far, though more back-and-forth than the last two. It featured one of the worst atomic drops I think Iíve ever seen

Kido wins with a small package. I guess itís good theyíre getting through some of these match ups quick.

Round 5
Shiro Koshinaka vs Osamu Kido


A piledriver on the outside within the first 30 seconds. Hands down the best match opening since Hansen/Andre. So far, this is the best match of the series. A significantly quicker pace than the other matches. Even if it was mostly middling mat wrestling, at least they moved from hold to hold at a good pace. A decent match on itís own. Kido wins by DQ after Koshinaka throws him over the guardrail. Bonus points for Koshinaka having a ďAw, man, I hosed up.Ē expression when they announced the result.


Round 6
Kengo Kimura vs Osamu Kido

Another super-short match. I had trouble staying focused on it. Kimura wins with a half-crab in just under 5 minutes.

Round 7
Kengo Kimura vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

This was like watching the first half of what couldíve been an amazing match. Started out hot, with Kimura throwing Fujiwara into the ringpost(busting him open), hitting him with some stiff forearms to the back, ending with the platonic ideal of a piledriver.

The rest of the match was fast paced and intense, the submission escapes had a great sense of drama, and Fujiwara showed a level of intensity and enthusiasm I havenít seen from him so far. Fujiwara wins after a successive series of Fujiwara Armbars.

Round 8
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

This match continued the momentum of the previous match. I canít really think of anything specific to say other than that it was really good. Fujinami was awesome as always and Fujiwara continued being the tough old bastard Iíd kept hearing he was. Fujinami was busted open by a piledriver to the exposed floor and boy was he busted open.

He got the win with a backslide. Immediately after the pinfall, Fujiwara headbutted him just Ďcuz. After the official result was announced, he went for a handshake. Fujinami slapped him. That was pretty cool.

Final Round
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda



Even though this has been kinda rough to watch at times, they did a great job building the drama for the final rounds. Fujinami is New Japanís last hope, facing 2-to-1 odds, he just barely gets past Fujiwara and now, bloody and beaten, he has to take on the ace of the UWF.

It was a great image of going through the pre-match introduction only, yíknow, bleeding profusely


This match was so good it almost made it worth sitting through the rest of this series. Fujiwara was a great embodiment of what makes this style of wrestling great. Yeah, the stiff strikes and crazy bumps are cool and all, but the heart and soul of Strong Style Wrestling is that even though youíre battered and bleeding and exhausted

You still have the determination pull yourself back up and hit your opponent with everything youíve got.

And when itís done well itís loving thrilling to watch.

And then the finish happened.

Maeda hit Fujinami with a kick, Fujinami stumbled and collapsed, and the referee declared Fujinami was unable to continue. NJPW folks came into the ring, first to argue with the ref, then to restrain Fujinami from continuing the fight. Kinda looked like he was on the verge of tears at some points.


I was genuinely mad and disappointed, not just because it was a bullshit finish, but because I was genuinely invested in this match and wanted to see Fujinami win, or at least lose decisively after after an awe-inspiring fight. I mean, I guess it was an effective ending because it had its intended effect on the viewer.

Anyways, as a whole event, this was really frustrating to watch. It was like watching the beginning of a match, then it was over, then the next segment started from scratch. It was a series of the first few minutes of a match. The last few matches were great, everything else was kinda pointless. Rounds 8 and 9 are definitely worth watching, maybe Round 7 as itís a good starting point for the last stretch of the series. Maybe check out the first round if you want to see Jushin Liger in the infancy of his career.

I gotta say, Iím not really impressed by these UWF guys. Takada seems cool, but I havenít seen much of him so I donít know if heís a good overall performer, or just really good at kicking people. Everyone else has been average-at-best. Maybe itís not surprising that a bunch of guys that thought 1983 NJPW was too flashy and unrealistic are kind of dull to watch.

I feel like I need a break from this NJPW/UWF stuff. Iím gonna check out the next non-UWF Highly Recommended Match on the list which isÖ Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody. I kinda have a bad feeling about this.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


The only standout, to me, among the UWF guys so far is Nobuhiko Takada. Because Iíve only seen him in multi-man tag matches and a short stint in the big gauntlet match, I donít know if heís an all-around good performer, or just really good at kicking people. So Iím watching this next match to find out.

Nobuhiko Takada(c) vs Shiro Koshinaka for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
August 5, 1986. Ryogoku Kokugikan


This is the best match Iíve seen since Inoki/Fujinami and I think itís one of my favorite matches Iíve seen overall. Like, maybe top 5. Maybe just below top 5, Iíd need to think about it. It started out quick and spirited, then after the first few minutes kinda dragged with a series of rest holds that arenít terrible, but still not great. At about 10 minutes the pace picks up and itís a lot of fun to watch after that.

Great tombstone. Koshinaka drops like a sack aí potatoes.

Shiro Koshinaka seems to be the originator of the legendary Ďhip attackí, currently practiced by Asuka and Ryusuke Taguchi


There were a lot of great moves and exchanges, I had a hard time picking which ones to turn into gifs. Some of them didnít translate well because they were either too long, or they moved too quick for my lovely freeware gifing software to do them justice. There was an awesome sequence about 20 minutes in where Takada has Koshinaka in a leg lock and they take turns smacking each other in the face.

Takada retains with a crossface chickenwing.

Itís not the most historically important match, but I had a lot of fun watching it. Definitely worth checking out.

Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody
September 16, 1986. Osaka Jo Hall


Iíve only ever seen a couple Bruiser Brody matches and Iíve honestly yet to be impressed by him. I know heís got this reputation as this legendary brawler but so far I havenít seen it. Maybe this match will show me the Bruiser Brody Iíve always heard abou-oh man, this video is an hour long. I already smell a pointless, bullshit time limit finish coming, Iím not looking forward to this at all. Going into live-comment mode now:

To start with, Iím really digging Inokiís Iron Chef getup.

As soon as the bell rings, Brody leaves the ring and walks through the crowd, stopping a dozen or so rows back. Itís too dark and grainy to see exactly what he was doing while he stopped. I guess yelling at whoever started the ĎInokií chant.
I can already tell theyíre stalling being methodical to pad out time.
I respect a guy that big doing a leapfrog.
Iím about 25 minutes in and.. Nothing really interesting has happened. I mean, theyíre doing stuff, but none of it is interesting or noteworthy or seems to be building to anything.
This figure-four is the most literal example of a Ďrest holdí I think Iíve ever seen. Brody is visibly relaxed and looks like heís about to yawn and lie down.
This match is so plodding and tedious that even when stuff does happen that looks like it should be interesting itís still covered in the stink of boring and is uninteresting by association.
Oh, hey, a ref bump followed by an uncounted pinfall.
Thatís kinda cool. A replacement ref shows up from backstage, takes off his shirt, glasses and watch(in that order) before getting in the ring. Shortly after someone at ringside hands him a referee shirt, I guess to make him official.
And the time limit expires after Inoki makes a series of near-falls.

That was a total waste of time, nothing about it caught my interest, and I want that hour of my life back.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Aug 22, 2017 around 00:29

Takuan
May 6, 2007


OK, back to the UWF feud.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda
IWGP League Match
June 12, 1986. Osaka-Jo Hall


Todayís bouquets are provided by what Iím assuming are the hosts of TV Asahiís top-rated morning aerobics show.


Itís not the most spectacular match. It very much followed the pattern of a main event match in this time and this style. And Iíll say this: The reliance of leglocks as the default rest hold is really starting to wear thin, and is dragging down my enjoyment of every match it happens in. The saving grace of this match that it did a great job telling a story. Even though they were evenly matched on the mat, Fujinami could not stand up to Maedaís kicks.

Every time Fujinami started gaining momentum, Maeda would start kicking and Fujinami would just wither under the onslaught. Eventually Fujinami starts figuring out how to counter the kicks- first by tripping him, then finally grabbing Maedaís leg, taking him down, and putting him in a Scorpion Deathlock. Fujinami got a huge pop when he managed to bring down Maeda with a series of his own(less impressive) kicks.

There was really weird moment near the end when Maeda hits Fujinami with a rolling kick. The camera cuts to a side view and Fujinamiís face is suddenly covered in blood. It feels like thereís no way that much blood could come out that quickly. It looks instantaneous.

I went back and watched this several times to try to get a better sense of exactly what happens and it still just doesnít look right that so much blood could pour out of a wound so quickly, even considering that it was a bad cut and he was bleeding profusely for the rest of the match.

The match ended in a double-knockout. I actually liked that as an ending because 1) You hardly ever see it. And 2) it feels like a fitting end to an Ďinvasioní where the Ďinvadersí are gradually reabsorbed into the main roster.

I know this wasnít actually the blowoff match for the NJPW vs UWF feud, and was just a league match, but Iím going to pretend that it was.

As an isolated match I wouldnít recommend watching it, even though it was engaging and interesting to watch as someone whoís been following this whole story arc.

Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura vs Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido
October 20, 1986. Kanagawa Prefectural Gymnasium


An average match with a bullshit finish. It wasnít bad, by any means, but it was completely unexceptional. No idea why this match was ďHighly RecommendedĒ on the list and the growing number of ďHighly RecommendedĒ matches that turn out to be average, or even bad, makes me wonder if Iím missing any gems that arenít ďHighly RecommendedĒ or even missing from the list completely.


Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido
Japan Cup Tag League Final
December 11, 1986. Ryogoku Kokugikan.


In the first minute, Fujiwara shows more quickness than Iíve ever seen from him.
Itís getting to the point where I immediately start losing interest as soon as I see anyone apply any sort of leg submission in the first 10 minutes of a match. This wasnít even a bad example of the practice, but the damage has been done.
Overall, though, this was another average match. A little bit better than the previous one, but still nothing great. At least this one has the excuse that taking it easy during the december tag league is a long-standing tradition. The last couple minutes did have a pretty good sequence where Inoki was in the ring and Maeda and Kido would do 1 move to Inoki, then tag out. Itís the kinda thing you should see more often in tag matches. Inoki wins with an Octopus Stretch outta nowhere.

And that brings me to the end of 1986. It was a rough year to get through. The only real standout of the UWF guys has been Takada. And Maeda is OK. Everyone else just seems like living examples of why people call Japanese wrestling Ďboringí. Black boots, black trunks, no charisma or personality, same style of wrestling. I guess it makes sense when you think about how one of the goals of the UWF was to be Ďmore realisticí than early-80s NJPW.

In any case, looking at the matches, and people, coming up in 1987 it very much seems to be a year that starts the end of one era and begins another.

Thrifting Day!
Nov 25, 2006



Great thread idea. Look forward to seeing where this goes.

Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



See, I kinda liked that Fujinami/Maeda match just because it was so drat fast, and the rolling kick botch added a lot to the match, but I totally get how you might not have enjoyed it. Honestly, afaik the next couple of years will be a lot better, especially since you have Inoki/Saito II coming up next and that's one of my favourite matches ever.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


I did enjoy the Fujinami/Maeda match, I just felt like my enjoyment of it was more rooted in the context and history of both men and what they represent, as well as my personal attachments to them. If you had no idea, or didn't have an interest, in who these guys were or the storyline going on with them this match, on it's own, in a vacuum, was just decent, but not spectacular. That's one of the great things about wrestling(I mean, I guess it's true for fiction in general) is that things like context and history and personal feelings towards the characters can make something better than it would seem entirely on its own. As someone who's been watching these matches, I was totally engaged with the story they were telling and while I wanted to see Fujinami win, I was satisfied with the conclusion.

I dunno, maybe my standards for recommending a match are too high. I'm watching these because I'm interested in the history of New Japan and actively want to see the highlights of yesteryear and the people I've heard of but never seen. I'd do this with other companies if I had the time and a good enough resource. But I feel like there's so much wrestling available that's continuously being put out by so many companies, that for me to say "Go out of your way to spend your time watching this match." it has to be something really good or interesting.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


This seems like a good point in time to reflect on the people and matches Iíve seen so far. In no particular order:

Antonio Inoki - Say what you want about his politics, his booking, or how he ran his company, but from what Iíve seen from him he was a great performer, a great athlete, and greatly charismatic. Itís amazing to think his in his late-30s to mid-40s during these matches. Sure, the time-limit matches have been meandering slogs, but if heís in a match with an actual finish, heís one of the overall best wrestlers Iíve seen. His last match on this list is over a decade from where I am now, so Iím very concerned heís going to be one of these guys that donít know when to hang it up.

Stan Hansen - I enjoyed what I saw and would like to see more.

Andre The Giant - If you had a circle that represented ďThe Years Wrestling Had A Fast Enough Pace To Be Palatable To Modern AudiencesĒ and another that represented ďThe Years Andre The Giant Was Healthy And AmbulatoryĒ, they would very narrowly overlap and his match with Stan Hansen was right in the center of the Venn Diagram. He really was a wonder to behold in his prime.

Dynamite Kid - Iíd argue that heís one of the most influential people Iíve seen in this project. I donít know what it was like seeing him at the time, but looking back it heís so very clearly ahead of his time. His influence on guys like Benoit and Bryan isÖ itís actually kinda eery just how much of his style you can see in those two, especially Benoit.

Tiger Mask - I was really disappointed he didnít come back with the other UWF guys. He was great to watch, and really would have added something to the NJPW/UWF fued.

Hulk Hogan - Still sucks.

Tatsumi Fujinami - If thereís one person I can honestly say Iím a fan of now, itís Tatsumi Fujinami. He has been fantastic in every match Iíve seen him in. Maybe not the most charismatic guy in the world, but he has enough to stand out and more than most of the other guys heís around. He plays a great babyface, he makes you want to see him win, want to see him overcome his opponent. Iím very glad it looks like I have quite a few more of his matches to watch.

Riki Choshu - Heís good, but it seems like one of the problems with this time and place is that everyone is wrestling a near identical style with an almost identical moveset. Heís got significant attitude and charisma that makes him entertaining to watch, but thereís nothing about his ring-work to really differentiate him. Iím interested to see how heís changed when he comes back in the next year.

Akira Maeda - He suffers from the same problem as Choshu, and all the other guys who Iíve seen but didnít list. They all wrestle pretty much the same, and he doesnít have enough going on, either in terms of personality or wrestling style, to make him much more than just another guy. Ok, yeah, he has kicks, but they donít look that great.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara - The biggest disappointment so far. When I was doing research for the UWF, so many sources made him seem like this grizzled, badass old man that never got a chance to show what he could do in NJPW and now that he was with the UWF guys he got to show everyone what he was really made of. That Yoshiaki Fujiwara only showed up for the NJWP/UWF Gauntlet match. Every other time Iíve seen him, heís screamed ĎCareer Midcarderí.

Nobuhiko Takada - I still donít have a really strong opinion of him as an overall worker, but heís really good at kicking people.

Seriously, I could watch this all day.

My top 5 favorite matches so far:
]Tatsumi Fujinami vs Antonio Inoki - A fantastic match from start to finish. This was the two best guys at this style at their best doing their best. This is the match to see if you want to see what 80s NJPW was all about.
Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid - Every word ever written about how good, and how important this match was is true. I mean, yeah, the booking sucked, but in spite of that, this match raised the bar, changed the game, set the standard, however you want to say it. This match is one of the core roots of modern professional wrestling.
Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen - What a goddamn spectacle this was. Words cannot do the experience of watching this match justice.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu IV - An all-around really good match, definitely the best match of this series. This is the one that really sticks out in my memory.
NJPW vs UWF Elimination Match - The heat in this match was off the charts. The workrate was nothing amazing, but it was fast paced and had enough good storytelling and booking that I was thoroughly engaged and entertained the whole time.


Honorable mentions go to Takada vs Koshinaka, the last two or three segments of the Gauntlet match, and Fujinami vs Maeda.

Iíll be starting 1987 with that years Young Lions Cup Championship Match Shinya Hashimoto vs Masahiro Chono followed by two IWGP Tag Team Championship matches between Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada and Shiro Koshinaka and Keiji Mutoh

david carmichael
Oct 28, 2011


This is an interesting and ambitious undertaking, but its worth noting that new japan's heavyweight in ring product remains on balance bad all the way through the late 90s.

Spermgod
Jan 8, 2012

pink wasn't even a thing why is t#RXT REVOLUTION~!
and i'm so fucking excited for #SCOOPS#SCOOPS#SCOOPS #SCOOPS#SCOOPS #SCOOPS#SCOOPS

he knows..


david carmichael posted:

This is an interesting and ambitious undertaking, but its worth noting that new japan's heavyweight in ring product remains on balance bad all the way through the late 90s.

loving hell

MadRhetoric
Feb 18, 2011

I POSSESS QUESTIONABLE TASTE IN TOUHOU GAMES


david carmichael posted:

This is an interesting and ambitious undertaking, but its worth noting that new japan's heavyweight in ring product remains on balance bad all the way through the late 90s.

On what planet are Mutoh/Hase/Chono/Hashimoto/half-crazed middle age Inoki matches bad? Or pre injury Steiners and Vader's cuppa? I understand not liking the style, but bad?

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MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

MadRhetoric posted:

On what planet are Mutoh/Hase/Chono/Hashimoto/half-crazed middle age Inoki matches bad? Or pre injury Steiners and Vader's cuppa? I understand not liking the style, but bad?

On this planet Chono matches post 92 were often bad.

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