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coconono
Aug 11, 2004

I bet against K-1


Bless you,! Early 80s NJPW is some of my fave "gently caress it, I got an hour to kill let's watch some matches" wrestling. Just pure comfort food of violence, spectacle and competition.

Just a side note, I believe Montreal holds the claim for being the first town Andre was body slammed in. Butcher Vachon was a ruthless motherfucker.

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EdsTeioh
Oct 23, 2004


coconono posted:



Just a side note, I believe Montreal holds the claim for being the first town Andre was body slammed in. Butcher Vachon was a ruthless motherfucker.

Naw, Morioka Japan; Strong Kobayashi was about 4 months before that.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Letís say, for the sake of argument, that most of the stuff in the 90s is bad. I would actually be OK with that. Itís easier, and more fun, to review exceptionally bad things than just OK things. I mean, Iím hoping that itís good, but if itís really bad, at least itíll be fun to riff on. Now on to todayís matches.

Iím not really expecting anything great out of this match, I just thought itíd be interesting to see. I havenít seen a lot of Chono matches, but Iíve seen a few, across a broad spectrum of time and quality. I think the first New Japan show I ever saw was main evented by a cage match between him and Yoshihiro Takayama. Shinya Hashimoto is a name Iíd heard but knew nothing specific about up until recently. It was surprising to find out he was a huge deal in New Japan in the 90s considering he doesnít seem to have the same kind of popularity among western puro fans as guys like Chono and Muta, or even Tenzan.

Shinya Hashimoto vs Masahiro Chono
Young Lion Cup Championship
March 20, 1987. Korakuen Hall


That sure was a Young Lion match. I mean, it was fine, but nothing special. Hashimoto threw some good kicks. Iím not going to make gifs because the best part was the sound they made. Plus, there was this

Which I canít decide if itís cool or just really awkward. Chono won with a small package. Even though it was an average match, you can still kind of see how the overall style of wrestling is changing. And there were no leglock restholds, so that was nice.

After the match, Chono is presented with the awards for winning the Young Lion Cup. The awards were, as I could understand them: 2 trophies, a giant novelty check for 500,00 Yen(which seems like a lot of money, both for the time and this level of victory), a card from a 10 year old girl, what seems to be a jade lion statue, something in the kind of packaging you get at upscale department stores, and a plaque. Hashimoto even got a trophy. It looked like one of the giant trophies theyíve been trotting out since the 70s.

Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
March 20, 1987. Korakuen Hall


Apparently, Keiji Mutoh graduated from the same dojo class as Hashimoto and Chono. It says a lot that while they are competing for the Young Lion Cup, heís competing for the tag team championship. There's a lot going on in their pre-match look.


If they matched, they would make a great looking team. Either look, if they both had weird long coats, or if they both wore 80s-as-gently caress shiny jackets, they would look amazing. As it stands, they just look uncoordinated.


Is it me, or does he look like the spitting image of a young Shinsuke Nakamura?

On to the match itself, it was great. It was fast paced, it was really entertaining from bell to bell, it had so much going for it. There was some good mat wrestling, cool moves, great sequences, some wonderful striking, a hype crowd, smooth tag team dynamics, dramatic nearfalls, and an out-of-nowhere finish thatís actually really good.




The more I see of Koshinaka, the more I like him and Mutoh really showed that he was a level beyond his peers at the time. He did the handspring elbow into the corner, but the camera missed most of it.

Koshinaka pins Maeda by reversing a Scorpion Deathlock into a small package.

Go watch this match.

Shiro Koshinaka and Keiji Mutoh(c) vs Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
March 26, 1987. Osaka-Jo Hall


They set the bar high with the last match, and they didnít quite reach it.
They started out strong

But it wasnít nearly as fast paced or dynamic as the previous match. The middle section was very slow and full of not-that-great submission work, and that kinda dragged the whole thing down. Thatís not to say this match didnít have its moments.


Everything I know about wrestling led me to believe this wouldnít work.

Well, if it worked for one team, thereís no way itíll work for the other team.


The match picked up steam in the last third and had another flash finish, with Koshinaka attempting a series of pinning combinations, and Takada reversing one into a leg submission.

This was still a pretty good match and I think maybe watching the two back to back made the second one seem worse than it actually was in comparison.


So, this referee thatís been in a few of these matches that I canít find a great image of. The first time I got a good look at him I thought ĎMan, He looks just like a fat Katsuyori Shibataí. I looked up who he was and it turns out heís Katsuhisa Shibata, Katsuyori Shibataís dad.

I think this might be the best consecutive run of matches Iíve seen so far.

Letís see if that run of good wrestling will continue with Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito, Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito, and Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito up next.

coconono
Aug 11, 2004

I bet against K-1


I always like Inoki because he wouldn't hesitate to murder a foreigner or anyone that hosed around in his ring. And people he liked. Well, everyone really. The point is, he'd murder someone and the crowd would get into it. That kind of wrestler is missed in these days.

dsriggs
May 28, 2012

MONEY FALLS...

...FROM THE SKY...

...WHENEVER HE POSTS!


coconono posted:

I always like Inoki because he wouldn't hesitate to murder a foreigner or anyone that hosed around in his ring. And people he liked. Well, everyone really. The point is, he'd murder someone and the crowd would get into it. That kind of wrestler is missed in these days.

Uhh... Sexy Star?

C. Everett Koop
Aug 18, 2008

madam, your hydraulic pressure is atrocious!

dsriggs posted:

Uhh... Sexy Star?

I think New Jack wrestles every now and then too.

coconono
Aug 11, 2004

I bet against K-1


dsriggs posted:

Uhh... Sexy Star?

Inoki woulda got a bigger pop for attempting to break halloween lady's arm. And fans would defend that it was right to do so. That is the power of the mindfuck Inoki.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Venomous posted:

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.

I just finished this match, and I gotta say, Holy gently caress that was something else. I still need to watch the third match and put together the post properly, but goddamn the end was one of the most memorable things I've ever seen in a wrestling ring.

delfin
Dec 5, 2003

SNATTER'S ALIVE?!?!


Hashimoto was the koala bear of puro. Like, he just looks cuddly and chubby and squeezable and HOLY poo poo HE JUST TORE THAT MAN'S SKULL OFF HIS SHOULDERS.

He also stars in a delightfully insane movie.

sean10mm
Jun 29, 2005

Dispensing unwanted fitness advice since 2005. P.S. Squat more! BEEFCAKE!!!

delfin posted:

Hashimoto was the koala bear of puro. Like, he just looks cuddly and chubby and squeezable and HOLY poo poo HE JUST TORE THAT MAN'S SKULL OFF HIS SHOULDERS.

He also stars in a delightfully insane movie.

If Wikipedia is to be believed his nickname translates to KING OF DESTRUCTION

Takuan
May 6, 2007


delfin posted:

Hashimoto was the koala bear of puro. Like, he just looks cuddly and chubby and squeezable and HOLY poo poo HE JUST TORE THAT MAN'S SKULL OFF HIS SHOULDERS.

He also stars in a delightfully insane movie.

I saw that movie years ago at a convention. Half the people in the room walked out from boredom within the first 45 minutes. Everyone that stayed through the whole thing gave it a standing ovation at the end.

Iíve never heard of Masa Saito, I have no idea what Iím getting into with these matches. Iím afraid itís going to be a series old men past their prime wrestling like itís 10 years ago.
Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
March 26, 1987. Osaka-Jo Hall.

What the gently caress?!
Iím getting ahead of myself.

Masa Saito has that kinda-fat-but-really-roided-up body you donít see anymore these days.
Inokiís finally starting to show his age. His physique is starting to get kinda saggy. He still looks great for any age, though.
The match was OK, I guess.

The parts that werenít tedious, drawn out submissions were decent. And then this happens.

I have no idea who he is or what he is. He gets in the ring and handcuffs himself to Masa Saito.

For what purpose, I canít figure out. Saito tries to fight him off, Inoki punches him a few times and tries to pull off his mask. Eventually, Saito, with the help of the ring crew, heads to the back.

Saito eventually returns, still wearing one handcuff, and the match is restarted.
Saito starts bashing Inoki in the head with the handcuff around his wrist.
Once Saito starts grinding the edge of the handcuff into Inokiís forehead, the referee pulls him away and starts kicking him.
I need to find out this guyís name because heís the most badass referee in the history of our sport.
Saito then clobbers him with the handcuff wrist, causing a DQ. A bloody Inoki leaves the ring, stalks around for a bit, then starts taking apart a turnbuckle

He pulls off the turnbuckle and squares off with SaitoÖ then tosses the turnbuckle away. Saito clubs him with the handcuff and Inoki no-sells it. He attacks him again and again, each time Inoki shrugging it off and challenging Saito to do it againÖ until Inoki collapses and Saito locks him into some kinda figure-four-like hold I donít know the name of. They come apart and start brawling some more until all the other wrestlers and ring crew come in to pull them apart.

Then after Saito is hustled to the back, an old bald guy comes from ringside and starts attacking Inoki. The ring crew seperate them and eventually get the old guy out of the ring.

I donít know what to make of that. That was nuts. That was a mess. That felt completely out of place at this kind of a show. I tried to do some research to figure out who this guy was, but couldnít find anything. If anyone knows who this was or what the gently caress that was about, please let me know.


Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
April 27, 1987. Ryugoku Kokugikan


The very first thing you see when the video starts is Saitoís ĎRiki Choshuí shirt. Before the match starts, thereís a shot of Riki Choshu sitting in the crowd. Wearing sunglasses indoors like a self-important rear end in a top hat.

The first 15 minutes are really boring. I could barely stay focused on it. It would occasionally pick up for a moment, before grinding to a halt with a dull submission that dragged on for way too long. These fuckiní guys, though.


They were the best part of the match.

A little before the 20 minute mark, Inoki is dumped on the outside, gets angry, and then starts unscrewing the turnbuckle again. The referee grabs the microphone, says something causing a strong reaction in the crowd, then the ring crew jumps up and starts dismantling the ring.



The match restarts and Inoki punches Saito into submission before bashing his face into the ring post, busting him open. Saito recovers and a young Hiroshi Hase sneaks a pair of handcuffs onto Saito and soon Saito and Inoki are linked together.
Inoki proceeds to beat the gently caress out of Saito.





The match ends when Hiroshi Hase throws in the towel for Saito.

Choshu tries to jump the rail to get involved and Tatsumi Fujinami decks Antonio Inoki, trying to get him to calm the gently caress down. A great shame the camera didnít really catch it that well.
Finally, Choshu calls out Fujinami(I think) as Fujinami is helping Saito to the back.

That was one of the most dramatic things Iíve ever seen in pro-wrestling. Everyone that has New Japan World needs to see this. Skip the match part, that kinda sucked, skip to about 18 minutes in after Inoki gets sent to the outside.

So far this feud has been a wild loving ride.

Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
June 12, 1987. Ryugoku Kokugikan

Fun Fact: Each one of these videos has been about 10 minutes shorter than the previous one.

Well, thatís a bold start. Inoki begins the match by kicking the referee in the head, then wheel kicking Saito. Other than that the match was just like their other two matches: It sucked. This bit was kinda cool.

But other than that, it was another match full of more painful to sit through and watch than it probably actually is to be in the middle of submission wrestling. Inoki wins by flopping over in the middle of a suplex to be crowned the first ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion, because of course.

Post-match, Riki Choshu comes into the ring and cuts what sounds like a great promo, Iím assuming to challenge for the belt. It seems like Inoki is forming an alliance with Maeda and a tall guy I donít recognize. Akira Maeda and Tatsumi Fujinami also have short turns on the microphone, then leave together.

So, that wraps up the first half of 1987. Next time Iíll be watching Antonio Inoki, Kantaro Hoshino, Seiji Sakaguchi, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Super Strong Machine, Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami and and Antonio Inoki and Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami

Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



I kinda disagree with you on Inoki/Saito II as a match, because it told a pretty good story on the whole. Saito put himself over as a powerhouse heel trying to break Inoki's body apart with the Sharpshooter, but Inoki resists because he's Antonio loving Inoki and he's a god who isn't going to take Saito's poo poo. Saito eventually gets desperate enough that he slams Inoki off the ropes multiple times, and I guess Inoki starts taking off the ropes because he's the boss and he can do that sort of thing. He's still astronomically over as a babyface here. I do agree that the ending was perfect, but it does need to be considered in the context of the rest of the match.

The other two matches, yeah, they're not so great.

Venomous fucked around with this message at Aug 31, 2017 around 02:41

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Takuan posted:


So, this referee thatís been in a few of these matches that I canít find a great image of. The first time I got a good look at him I thought ĎMan, He looks just like a fat Katsuyori Shibataí. I looked up who he was and it turns out heís Katsuhisa Shibata, Katsuyori Shibataís dad.

No loving way

LvK
Feb 27, 2006

FIVE STARS!!


The masked guy was one of the Gasper (Gaspar) Brothers, who were usually Barry and Bob Orton. I have no idea what their storyline was, but they seem to have been revered as chaotic wild card heels around the time period.

No idea on the bald guy, don't currently have NJPW world so I can't check.

Also agreed 're: Zombie mermaid. Kinda slow beginning, but boy oh boy does it pick up.

E: tough old bald guy in 80s NJPW is probably Kotetsu Yamamoto, wrestler turned referee/commentator/head trainer, supposedly came up with the whole NJPW lion motif.

LvK fucked around with this message at Aug 31, 2017 around 11:43

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Venomous posted:

I kinda disagree with you on Inoki/Saito II as a match, because it told a pretty good story on the whole. Saito put himself over as a powerhouse heel trying to break Inoki's body apart with the Sharpshooter, but Inoki resists because he's Antonio loving Inoki and he's a god who isn't going to take Saito's poo poo. Saito eventually gets desperate enough that he slams Inoki off the ropes multiple times, and I guess Inoki starts taking off the ropes because he's the boss and he can do that sort of thing. He's still astronomically over as a babyface here. I do agree that the ending was perfect, but it does need to be considered in the context of the rest of the match.

The other two matches, yeah, they're not so great.

You're right that it does tell a story, but the more of these I watch, the less patience I have for these long, drawn out submission sequences where the guys just kinda sit in one position grimacing for minutes on end. I think Inoki starting to take apart the turnbuckle was a callback to the previous match, where he almost attacked Saito with it. And, yeah, let it be known that Inoki was being wildly cheered while he repeatedly pummeled this bloody and semi-conscious man.

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..


i believe the pirates were NJPW trying to do more Memphis-inspired angles in response to poor TV ratings. hardcore fans hated it and the whole thing was canned before long.

The Duck of Death
Nov 19, 2009



My favorite Fujiwara matches are Choshu 6/9/87 and Yamazaki 7/24/89, along with the entire Super Tiger series. Maybe watch those if you're not sold on him.

Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



Takuan posted:

You're right that it does tell a story, but the more of these I watch, the less patience I have for these long, drawn out submission sequences where the guys just kinda sit in one position grimacing for minutes on end.

Fair point. Admitedly I'm a sucker for good, clear storytelling. But yeah, I'm not too keen on that style of sequence either (which is why I don't have much patience for AJPW's supposed golden age in the 90s) and idk, they did it well in that particular match but I do kinda feel your antipathy to a lot of these matches.

mariooncrack
Dec 27, 2008


Takuan posted:

You're right that it does tell a story, but the more of these I watch, the less patience I have for these long, drawn out submission sequences where the guys just kinda sit in one position grimacing for minutes on end.

Do you watch MMA by chance? Watching real fights ruined a lot of those long submission spots for me. For example, I know if you don't tap immediately in an arm bar, your arm is going to break.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


mariooncrack posted:

Do you watch MMA by chance? Watching real fights ruined a lot of those long submission spots for me. For example, I know if you don't tap immediately in an arm bar, your arm is going to break.

I've watched some. MMA fights can be extraordinarily boring too, for much the same reason, the participants aren't really doing anything. Example: Ken Shamrock vs Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock vs Dan Serven 2.

Antonio Inoki, Kantaro Hoshino, Seiji Sakaguchi, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Super Strong Machine, Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami
10 Man Elimination Match
August 19, 1987. Ryugoku Kokugian.


This match is on dailymotion, for all to enjoy and was recommended by Spermgod.
The team of Choshu, Maeda, and Fujinami is certainly a combination I didnít think Iíd see given what Iíve watched so far. Itís kinda fascinating how two separate groups across 5 years had gotten fed up with Inoki, hosed off to do their own thing, then returned. Even moreso that Tatsumi Fujinami, the man that defended New Japan from both group, either before they left or after they returned, is now on their side because gently caress Inoki.

As far as this match goes, it was solid and entertaining. I donít have anything bad to say about it, but there was nothing about it that was really exceptional or memorable. It Intense and fast paced at the beginning and never really slowed down too much. I feel like the 10-Man Elimination last year was moderately more dramatic, but this was still good.
Inoki was showing some definite heelishness, tagging in to square off with Choshu then tagging out before they could come to blows. Eliminations donít start until about 12 minutes in, and then keep up at a fairly steady pace after that. Surprisingly, Inoki was one of the first eliminations, being dragged over the top rope Maeda. I enjoyed how pleased Maeda looked with himself for eliminating Inoki, even if it meant eliminating himself as well.

Keiji Mutoh winds up in the underdog spot, having to face both Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami as the last man left on his team. It doesnít go too well for him. Heís getting better and better and doing his cartwheel elbow, however the NJPW technical crew are still bad at getting it on camera. He eats a lariat by Choshu, who refuses to pin him and tags Fujinami in. After a brief altercation between Inoki and others at ringside and Choshu and Fujinami, Mutoh gets back to his feet. He tries to put up a fight, but shortly after Fujinami hits a German Suplex to win.





Antonio Inoki & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami
August 20, 1987. Ryogoku Kokugian


Pre-Match, Choshu kicks things off with a good old fashioned shouty wrestleman promo.
It took me a minute to figure out this match has an odd setup. Choshu and Fujinami are in one corner, and Inoki is by himself in the other. All three men are in their wrestling gear. After Choshuís promo, Seiji Sakaguchi, Fujiwara, and others I donít recognize came out from the back, a few seconds later even more people come from backstage, including Keiji Mutoh. Sakaguchi pats Mutoh on the shoulder and apparently tells him to get in there.

He looked better with the beard, I think.

Once Mutoh is in the ring, the announcer makes the official introductions, and now we have a match.

A pretty good match, overall. Everybody did their share to make it entertaining. This match is a great example of one of the ways that you can build a match around submissions, but make it interesting and engaging to watch. When a submission is locked on, it doesnít stay on for more than, at most 10-15 seconds before something else happens. Case in point, Fujinami puts Inoki in a Figure Four, and Inoki grabs Fujinamiís foot to keep him from locking it in all the way. They struggle over that for a few seconds before Fujinami fully applies the hold, then Inoki tries to escape by rolling one way, then the other, then Fujinami starts cranking back really hard, slapping the mat, then they take a few seconds of a breather, then Fujinami tags out and Choshu gets in a cheap stomp.

The problem I have is when they get into position, and then just sit there, gritting their teeth and shaking their heads for minutes at a time. I get the logic of wearing down your opponent and all, but itís still boring to watch, especially when it happens over and over in a 15+ minute match.

Back to the match as a whole

I donít think Iíve seen Inoki get thrown around like that before.



Pretty fun match, Choshu pins Mutoh with a backdrop. Iíve found myself fully engaged and invested in the stories and fortunes of these men as Iíve been watching, so, good job pro-wrestling.




Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
Ganryujima Island Death Match
October 4, 1987


The final confrontation between Inoki and Saito took place on a remote island that was the site of the historic duel between Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki. Thereís no audience, thereís no commentary, thereís not even a referee. Just two men, in a ring, in a field. I can only find the first part of this two hour match and I donít think I want to ever find the rest of it. Itís as surreal as it is boring. Thereís barely any sound, mostly just an incessant droning of a helicopter and the hiss of an old VHS tape. Itís everything bad about their previous matches completely isolated. Nothing but two middle-aged men exchanging pointless, drawn out submission holds. After about 20 minutes, the camera cuts away and fades back with the moon high in the sky and Inoki and Maeda are exactly where were before, with nothing changed or accomplished. The video just kinda ends with Saito stalking after Inoki outside of the ring.

I didnít sit through all of this, nor do I recommend anyone else trying to actually view all 30 minutes of this video, but skim through it. Itís a really strange thing to see.

Next on the list: Itís Vader Time!

SatansOnion
Dec 12, 2011



I doubt I could make myself watch much of this, but the concept is making me giggle. It's like HHH on a diet of samurai films instead of metal albums

Takuan posted:

Next on the list: Itís Vader Time!

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Takuan posted:

Next on the list: Itís Vader Time!

It's time? IT'S TIME!?!?!

Takuan
May 6, 2007


The advertised main event for this show was Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki. The semi-main is advertized as Fujinami and Kimura vs Saito and Vader. The plan was for Fujinami to job to Vader, but Fujinami refused. Canít say I blame him. So plans were changed. Vader was introduced by Takeshi ďBeatĒ Kitano, whoís probably most known in the west for his role in Battle Royale and being the host in the original footage for Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. My understanding is that this was before he would start starring and directing in gangster movies, and he was known as a comedian. I can understand why the audience would poo poo all over this.

The video starts with Vader and a ton of other people in the ring. Masa Saito is saying stuff, then Antonio Inoki comes out and shouts more stuff, then heads to the back, and somehow we end up with

Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura vs Riki Choshu and Masa Saito
December 27, 1987. Ryogoku Kokugikan


Nobody seems happy about this. Choshu clearly doesnít want to team with Saito, Saito seems to be doing what he can to make the best of it, Kimura has the look of a man stuck in a lovely situation out of loyalty to a good friend and Fujinami seems generally pissed. He shouts something into a microphone before the introductions. I really wish I knew what they were saying.

As soon as the bell rings, thereís the loudest crowd chant Iíve ever heard in one of these videos. ďYame-toĒ, it sounds like.
This moment Choshu hits his first move, people start throwing trash like itís the main event of Monday Nitro.

The poor referee tried to sweep trash away with a cardboard drink holder.
The crowd completely rejects this match. Theyíre not reacting to anything.
Things keep happening off-camera that draw the crowds attention.
I think everyone in this match knew it was a lost cause and just kinda went through the motions. I think this went less than 10 minutes. Choshu wins after hitting Kengo Kimura with a lariat.

Afterwards, Chono gets on the microphone. I donít know what he says but apparently he managed to win the crowd back. Itís the first positive response Iíve seen in this video. The crowd starts chanting for Choshu. Choshu throws down the microphone so hard it dents the metal windscreen.

Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

Inoki comes out and he and Choshu exchange heated words. The crowd is firmly on Choshuís side. Choshu goes to the back, Inoki speaks some more, Choshu returns to the ring just as Inoki leaves. Choshu spends a good couple minutes squatting in the ring waiting for Inoki to come back. The crowd is split between them.

The early portion of the match is spent with Inoki repeatedly backing into a corner and the referee trying to keep Choshu from closing in, until Inoki hits Choshu with a jumping enzugiri while heís occupied by the referee. A clear cowardly heel move if ever there was one. Inoki bashed him into the ring post, busting him open. From that point, Choshu can barely function, missing wildly with any attempted attack.



Inoki gets Choshu locked into the Octopus Stretch and eventually Hiroshi Hase comes in, throwing the ref aside and breaking the hold. Choshu is, understandably, pissed that his cornerman would interrupt and throws Hase out of the ring. The match is ruled a DQ or No Contest or something as Choshuís associates drag him to the back, fighting against them with what little strength he has left.

And now, finally, after all this bullshit, itís Vader Time!


Antonio Inoku vs Big Van Vader

5 punches
2 headbutts
Ĺ of a gorilla press
2 kicks
2 tackles
1 kinda wobbly suplex
2 elbow drops
1 Lariat
1 Powerslam

Vader wins.
Thatís all there was to this match, almost in that exact order. And it didnít even look impressive. Vader himself looked great

But that match sucked and I donít blame the fans at Sumo Hall for rioting afterwards. Inoki got no offense in, most of Vader's offense looked really light, and you can't even use the excuse that he was worn down from the match with Choshu because that lasted less than 10 minutes and the first half consisted of Inoki backing away from Choshu and the second half was just Inoki punching him over and over. I get the logic behind it, but the execution was terrible in a number of ways. Sadly, none of the riot is captured in this video, just footage of people shuffling out of the arena.

That was historic. Historic in the same way that, say, the Hindenberg was historic. The riot this match caused was so bad, not only was NJPW banned from this Sumo Hall for over a year, their TV timeslot got moved from primetime to midnight. I had heard about the ban from Sumo Hall, but didnít realize until now that this was their primary large venue in the biggest market in Japan. The only shows they would be able to run in Tokyo after this would be at Korakuen Hall, so all things considered this show caused a huge financial blow to New Japan. If you want to see anything good, donít watch this video. If you want to see the night that almost killed a company, check it out.


And so ends 1987. 1988 begins with a match Iím very much looking forward to: Shiro Koshinaka vs Keiichi Yamada followed by a match Iím very apprehensive about, Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader

LvK
Feb 27, 2006

FIVE STARS!!


Dumb little historical almost-footnote about that night: in Fire Pro Wrestling R's booking mode, every company had a special end state for a card that was positive, most of them relating to match ratings or star power.

Except NJPW. NJPW was the only company that had a negative end state, where you booked the show so poorly that the fans rioted.

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..


i always wonder how many of those "we got the fans so worked up they rioted" stories old heels like to tell were actually fans being pissed off at lovely booking as was the case here

Takuan
May 6, 2007


LvK posted:

Dumb little historical almost-footnote about that night: in Fire Pro Wrestling R's booking mode, every company had a special end state for a card that was positive, most of them relating to match ratings or star power.

Except NJPW. NJPW was the only company that had a negative end state, where you booked the show so poorly that the fans rioted.

Man, I hope they include some version of that in the new Fire Pro game.

Shiro Koshinaka vs Keiichi Yamada
1988 Top of the Super Jr Block Match
January 28, 1988. Gifu Industrial Hall


This is the kinda thing I hate in wrestling, particularly this era. The first 2/3rds of this match was spent with Yamada working Koshinakaís ankle. He did a fantastic job of it too, he was relentless, vicious, and even spent time sneakily unlacing Koshinakaís boot before pulling it off. It was, in my recollection, one of the best examples of Ďworking a body partí you can find.


And then the last third of the match begins, and none of it matters. They start trading moves and reversals and doing the normal Junior Heavyweight stuff, and Koshinakaís ankle is not a factor at all. I mean, yeah, he hobbles a couple times, but other than that, nothing. It would have been nice if, say, he couldnít hoist Yamada up for the Tombstone Piledriver because his ankle was smashed, but not only did he lift him up for it, he walked around the ring for a few seconds to get into a good position. It doesnít factor into the finish at all when Koshinaka hits a perfect, full-bridge German Suplex.

The first two thirds of the match were great, the last third was pretty good, but the two sections of the match donít mesh at all. This match manages to be worse than the sum of its parts.

Keiichi Yamada has come a long way from being the plucky, kindergartener-faced young lion from the UWF matches and did a great job as the heel in this match.

It was actually kinda shocking seeing a powerbomb, and in a junior heavyweight match to boot. It got an awed reaction from the crowd. This is the first one Iíve seen so far, which is surprising now that I think about it. I thought they were pretty common in Japanese wrestling of this era. When did they start getting used?


Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
February 7, 1988. Nakajima Sports Center


I can just imagine the staff at the Nakajima Sports Center being on edge through this whole show, worried they might have another riot after this match.
Vader has a dope rear end skull cane that Iíve never seen him with before and itís a shame he apparently didnít use it much after this.

Vaderís wearing a mask in this match. Can you do that? Whatís the point of putting him in a mask if he made his debut and squashed the company ace not wearing one?

The match goes about as I expected a match between an ageing technician and an inexperienced powerhouse would go. It was slow, Vader is obviously being gentle with Inoki. Thankfully it was short. There was a genuinely impressive moment when Inoki hauled Vader up on to his shoulders and dumped him over the top rope.


The match ended shortly when Inoki rammed Vader into the ringpost and he rebounded over the guardrail, getting DQed.

Then this rear end in a top hat showed back up, throwing powder around and doing some more chicken-fried bullshit before leaving and hopefully going back to the strip-mall Halloween store he came from.


Vader rolls Inoki back in the ring and assaults him some more. Some of the ring crew step in to try to stop Vader and, well


Vader then tried to put Inoki through the announcing desk, though not how youíd think.




It kinda feels like Inoki is aware his physical abilities are slipping and heís using these more Ďsports entertainmentí post-match spectacles make up for it. I mean, I understand, itís not like there are any other talented, popular guys on the roster who could carry the main event scene in the company.

Speaking of which, next time Iíll be looking at Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami vs Vader.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


1988 is a very sparse year on New Japan World. There are only 12 matches, currently. Thatís less than any other year after 1980 other than 2008, which only has 5 videos listed. My understanding of the spring of 1988 is that Antonio Inoki vacated the IWGP Heavyweight title due to a fractured foot. Some say this was a worked injury so Inoki wouldnít have to lose to the next holder of the title. In any case, Tatsumi Fujinami faced Vader to determine a new champion, with Fujinami winning via disqualification. Fujinamiís first defense would be in May against Riki Choshu. This match ended as a ďNo ContestĒ and the decision was made to vacate the title once again, leading toÖ

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
June 24, 1988. Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium


I feel like this match was better than any of their 1983 matches. An overall, all-around, through-and-through, pretty good match. It started with brisk mat work, escalated into trading big moves





And ended with a bloody and desperate Fujinami trying to quickly get a win over Choshu without getting into a war of attrition with the stronger man. Fujinami wins the IWGP Heavyweight title(but, really, retains) with a small package.

I really enjoyed this match and found myself in the weird emotional position of wanting to see Fujinami win while I was watching even though I knew he was going win anyways.

Tatsumi Fujinami(c) vs Vader for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
June 26, 1988. Nagoya Rainbow Hall


This is the Vader I remember. This is the Vader of legend. This is the Vader that crushed Stings ribs and knocked Cactus Jackís memories right out of his skull. He comes across so much better in this match compared to the last two matches Iíve seen him in. I donít know if heís gotten better or he was just handicapped by working with Inoki. Either way, he was great in this match. He was much stiffer. Not dangerously or recklessly so, but enough that all of his attacks had a sense of force that was lacking in his previous two matches.

There were some pretty great theatrics to start off with, as Vader prays to his armor, and the steam goes off when he flexes.

Fujinami, for his end of things, came off like an absolute champion. Vader may have been bigger and stronger, but Fujinami was quicker, craftier, and tough enough that he never looked like an underdog in this match.






Fujinami wins with a backslide and celebrates

While Vader rampages through the crowd


Another really good match. Both of them well worth checking out.

Next, Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu, The NJPW Sekigun vs The Three Musketeers and Antonio Inoki vs Vader(again)

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.



I love the delay between the catch, the slow beginning of the fall and then the way he twists him around. Makes it feel more natural than staged.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu, IWGP Block Match]
July 22, 1988. Nakajima Sports Center


A quick match with a pleasantly surprising ending.
I havenít seen this done in this style, and it looks like a much more impressive feat of strength with all of the opponent's weight on one side like that.

Choshu wins by hitting Inoki with a lariat to the back of the head while he was arguing with the ref over a near fall.

Yíknow, you see guys arguing with the referee over counts so much, just once Iíd like to see a match end with a ref going ďYouíre right, that should have been a three-count. Iíll award you the victory by decision.Ē


Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka vs Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto
July 29, 1988. Ariake Coliseum.


While on excursion to WWC in Puerto Rico, Mutoh, Chono, and Hashimoto would join forces, calling themselves The Three Musketeers. They returned to Japan briefly before being sent to Texas for more experience. Fujinami, Kimura, and Koshinaka are in the weird place of being defending veterans even though just the previous year, they played the role of the upstarts against guys like Inoki and Fujiwara.

Mutoh is barely recognizable in this period.

Itís always great when guys have that extra intensity and attitude you see in some of these inter-factional matches. This was another short, less than 10 minute, match that was still a lot of fun to watch. It was really fast paced, it was wild, it was intense, and the non-finish still managed to fit the overall vibe of the match. The Musketeers looked great, I mean, everyone looked good, but the Three Musketeers really came off as a force to be reckoned with.


Iím not entirely sure what the finish was, it was either a general no-contest due to all the brawling on the outside, or Fujinami was disqualified for keeping Mutoh upside down in the corner too long.

Either way, I really enjoyed this match and with it being so short, thereís no reason not to check it out if you have NJPWorld. Iím really looking forward to these guys coming back in full force next year.

Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader IWGP League Match
July 29, 1988. Ariake Coliseum.


Finally, early match psychology pays off in a finish.

During the pre-match: They put a microphone in Vaderís helmet so the audience can hear him growling over the arenaís speakers. Thatís pretty cool. There was also a clearly audible ďLetís go, motherfucker!Ē for the inevitable ďNJPW Has Never Been For KidsĒ Youtube compilation.

The match itself was good? Decent? Definitely better than their previous encounters. In the opening moments, Vader throws Inoki over the guardrail into the crowd, before jumping over the rail himself to choke Inoki. Neither man is disqualified. A clear violation of their established rules and expectations. Both men were stiffer and more forceful than they were in their last two matches, which helped this one significantly.

Inoki spent most of the match working Vaderís arm, with kicks and various submissions. Thankfully, none of the submissions in this match drag on for too terribly long. Vader did a good job selling his arm through most of the match. Towards the end, Vader and Inoki go to the outside. Vader pulls a tool thatís used in putting together the ring, though Iím not exactly sure what itís for, and swings at Inoki. Inoki ducks, gets the tool from Vader, and whacks him in the arm with it.

It gives Vader a really nasty cut.

One of the worst wounds Iíve seen outside of deathmatches.

A little bit later, Vader goes to the top rope and...

Inoki wins with an armbar.

Iím having a hard time putting a final judgement on this match and I think the best description for it is ďIt did itís job.Ē

I feel like Vader is being restrained when working with Inoki because those matches are so much about Inoki and influenced so much by his ideas about how matches should go that they donít really give Vader the room to show off what he can do. I think his match with Fujinami proved that Vader can be better with a more flexible opponent than with Inoki.

This idea will be put to the test next time with Vader vs Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatsumi Fujinami vs Antonio Inoki, and Iíll be finishing NJPWorldís 1988 selection with another Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu match.

Chinston Wurchill
Jun 27, 2010

It's not that kind of test.

Takuan posted:

Yíknow, you see guys arguing with the referee over counts so much, just once Iíd like to see a match end with a ref going ďYouíre right, that should have been a three-count. Iíll award you the victory by decision."

I forget the competitors involved but Chikara did this awhile ago.

C. Everett Koop
Aug 18, 2008

madam, your hydraulic pressure is atrocious!

1: I'm hoping that's a legit injury on Vader's arm because otherwise jesus gently caress Vader that's not how you gig you arm!

2: Not trying to spoil too much but with Vader/Inoki when is The Suplex?

Takuan
May 6, 2007


C. Everett Koop posted:

1: I'm hoping that's a legit injury on Vader's arm because otherwise jesus gently caress Vader that's not how you gig you arm!

2: Not trying to spoil too much but with Vader/Inoki when is The Suplex?

I have no idea what you're talking about, but according to this spreadheet, the next time Inoki and Vader face off against each other won't be until 1996, so it looks like it's going to be a while.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Antonio Inoki for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
August 8, 1988. Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium


Nope. Not doing it. Iím not watching an obvious one-hour time limit draw that only exists because Inoki doesnít want to put over the guy who shouldíve taken over as the ace of the company at least 3 years ago.

OK, fine. Iíll watch it, but only on my secondary monitor while I work.

The first 5 minutes were actually pretty good, then there was a figure-4 that lasted for the next 5 minutes. OK Iím exaggerating, it only lasted 3 and a half minutes. Scattered throughout this match were some genuinely good moments and sequences, but most of the match was just endless submission work. I couldnít even enjoy the good parts because the political motivations behind the booking of the match were so transparent. Lately Inoki has been reminding me of how late-80s/early-90s Hulk Hoganís politicking and ego started having a more and more obvious effect on the on-screen product.

3 times around 20 minutes in, Fujinami put Inoki in what could have, and probably should have, been match-ending submissions, and then you realize youíre only 1/3rd of the way through and despair. Twice, even the producer got bored and spent nearly a minute with the camera on the commentators, including an extreme closeup of the play-by-play guys sweaty forehead. There was a moment during an endless figure-4 that Inoki is literally resting. Eyes closed, head-leaned back. Iíll say that the ending was fairly well done, and could have even been great in a better match, with Inoki repeatedly covering Fujinami as the ring announcer counted the time down, and Fujinami kicking out at 2 each time.

Post match saw Inoki putting the belt on Fujinami and hugging him, which was nice and all, but would have been nicer if it had happened after Inoki put over Fujinami clean.



Big Van Vader vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow
September 12, 1988. Fukuoka Cultural Center


Man, that was just what I needed after that last match. Just two big olí sides aí beef just beefiní into each other for 10 minutes. It was like watching The Hulk fight The Thing, if The Thing had been taking beginners gymnastics classes and could bust out a sweet tuck-and-roll.I was a little worried going in that both guys might be too green at this point to put together a decent match on their own, but it was pretty good.

Bam Bam showing impressive agility to start off.

You can really appreciate all the little nuances when you watch it looped as a gif.
Bam Bam lets out a howl during the test of strength at around 6:20 that needs to be heard to be believed.



Fun times.

Match ends with Vader back body dropping Bam Bam over the guardrail into the crowd for a DQ. Then this happens:


The two are broken apart by Magnum TA(Who I thought was retired by now), I think Afa, some guy in a blue bandanna I donít recognize, and one of the Black Tigers(I think Mark Rocco?).

A pretty enjoyable, if unspectacular, match.


Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
October 19, 1988. Shizuoka Industrial Pavillon.


This was a decent match with a pretty good finish. Exposed turnbuckles play a big part in the psychology of the match, which was interesting, and well done. Overall, though, the whole thing was just OK. Not bad, but even with the high drama over who would bash who into the turnbuckle, it still wasnít really that interesting.

Until Choshu slammed Inoki repeatedly into one of the exposed turnbuckles, busting him open. The match ended with Inoki being disqualified for refusing to give up a chokehold on Choshu.



Followed by Inoki staggering around the ring in a bloody, berzerker haze, shouting at no one in particular and swinging at anyone that tried to get close to him.



And thus ends New Japan Worldís offerings for 1988. I suspect the fact they couldnít run as often in Tokyo led to fewer matches being taped, but who knows.

1989 is kind of an odd year. It has some highlights, like NJPWís first ever Tokyo Dome show and the debut of Jushin Thunder Liger, but the year, or at least NJPWorldís coverage of the year, is dominated by a Russian Invasion. Which Iíve heard is terrible.

The first part of the year looks pretty promising, though, with Tatsumi Fujinami vs Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader, and Antonio Inoki vs Bam Bam Bigelow

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Goddamn do I love watching Bam Bam doing rolls.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Tatsumi Fujinami(c) vs Bam Bam Bigelow for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
January 16, 1989. Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium


It was fine. As talented as both men are they were just kinda going through the motions on this one. The crowd was pretty dead for this match too.

Bam Bam is alarmingly agile at times.

After this he throws 2 kicks that are so fast I canít accurately capture them in gif. When you think Ďagile big mení, you think guys that can move around fairly quick, keep pace with smaller guys, and maybe do a moonsault or leapfrog now and then. Even among other Ďagile big mení, Bam Bam really sets himself apart with how quick and flexible he can be, and how he completely throws himself into his bumps.


Fujinami, once again, does a great job of being overpowered but not outclassed, winning with a Thesz Press.

If you want to see talented people put on an average match, this is a pretty great example.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader
February 9, 1989. Nakajima Sports Center


I hate champion-vs-challenger non-title matches for a lot of reasons I donít feel like getting into. One of those reasons is that the outcome of these matches is almost always the same, and so from the moment the match is announced, you know who is going to win and where the story is going.

In spite of this, it was still a pretty good match. It was a little too slow and had a little too much padding for how short it was, but when there was action happening, it was impressive and engaging. Vader showed some great feats of strength.



And once again, Fujinami looked like a champion even when facing a monster. Thereís a charming kind of clumsiness in many of their spots that make them look very natural.



There was also a recurring theme of Fujinami using his whole body as a weapon, either with cross-bodies or Thesz Presses, and sometimes it working, other times Vader can reverse it somehow or another.

Vader also still has an obvious scar from his arm wound from 6 months ago.

While not nearly as good as their last match, this was still worth watching, though maybe not worth going out of your way for.

Antonio Inoki vs Bam Bam Bigelow
February 9, 1989. Nakajima Sports Center


I donít really have a lot to say about this one. It was OK, but there really wasnít anything interesting or noteworthy to it. The main purpose to this match seems to be to continue the Inoki/Vader feud. Inoki spends most of the match working Bam Bamís arm(who does a pretty good job selling it throughout the match), beating him with an armbar.

Post-match, Vader comes out to attack Inoki, pointing to the scar on his arm, swearing vengeance. Eventually, Inoki turns the tide and fights both of them off.

That was kind of an underwhelming start to 1989. I kinda had high hopes for both the Fujinami matches. They were both still good, but I was hoping for more. Didnít help that the crowd was dead in all three matches.

Next, Iíll be watching a one-night tournament for the arbitrarily vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship at New Japanís first ever Tokyo Dome show. The tournament features top stars Tatsumi Fujinami, Vader, and Riki Choshu, fresh from excursion midcarders Masahiro Chono and Shinya Hashimoto, two Russian guys nobody has ever heard of that are the result of Inokiís fetish for Ďlegit fightersí, and Buzz Sawyer because why the gently caress not, I guess.

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

Takuan posted:



Next, Iíll be watching a one-night tournament for the arbitrarily vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship at New Japanís first ever Tokyo Dome show. The tournament features top stars Tatsumi Fujinami, Vader, and Riki Choshu, fresh from excursion midcarders Masahiro Chono and Shinya Hashimoto, two Russian guys nobody has ever heard of that are the result of Inokiís fetish for Ďlegit fightersí, and Buzz Sawyer because why the gently caress not, I guess.

In the case of the Russians he was dead right.

C. Everett Koop
Aug 18, 2008

madam, your hydraulic pressure is atrocious!

Young Bam Bam was an athletic marvel. The problem is that kind of bumping takes it's toll on you and it really wrecked his body/led to his early death. There's a reason guys are told to slow it down, especially big men.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


MassRafTer posted:

In the case of the Russians he was dead right.

Are the Russians actually good? 'Cuz that's the opposite of what I've read about this situation.

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA

Takuan posted:

Are the Russians actually good? 'Cuz that's the opposite of what I've read about this situation.

He was right in the sense that they did huge business with them. I kind of like some of the stuff too.

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Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

Match from the list I think you should watch despite not being "highly recommended": Inoki vs Murdoch from June 19, 1986. Dick Murdoch is incredible in it.


A few matches I'll suggest that aren't on the list (no idea if that's due to them not being available on NJ World, which I don't have access to):

-Andre vs Killer Khan, April 1, 1982. A shockingly detail-oriented match, and Andre is just off-the-charts.

-Team Inoki vs Team Choshu gauntlet match, April 19, 1984. As hot a crowd as there will ever be, and several very strong performances.

-Choshu vs Fujiwara, June 9, 1987. Very compact, heated, and fast-paced.

-Team Inoki vs Team Fujinami, August 19, 1987. Better than some of the more famous elimination matches IMO.

-Team Fujinami vs Team Choshu, September 12, 1988. My pick for New Japan Match of the '80s, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be on NJ World.

-Liger vs Sano from August and September of '89.

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