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tzirean
May 1, 2007



Grimey Drawer

RealFoxy posted:

Vader was always described by Cornette as "Too nice to be a wrestler" and Stan was all gimmick in the ring but apparently a real nice guy outside of it too. Both would bruise the poo poo out of you in a match though

Foley also talks in his first book about how much of a total softy Vader is, IIRC.

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C. Everett Koop
Aug 18, 2008

by Smythe


New Japan's YouTube channel posts a free match once a week. Usually it's from the recent era and is to build up an upcoming event or match. But this week's is Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid from the Garden for the WWF Light Junior Heavyweight Belt or whatever it was called. Fink does the ring announcing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtGlDLbwMWY

SatoshiMiwa
May 6, 2007



Kinda of shocked New Japan has the TV rights to that match. I wonder how much stuff they have the broadcast rights to from when they did have a working relationship with the WWE

The Cameo
Jan 20, 2005

icy chain with the watch now


They don't have the rights to any of it, TV Asahi does. The broadcaster puts up the money for production and as such owns the recordings - whereas New Japan retains ownership of the IP and talent contracts in this arrangement.

It's why Kenny felt a little bad after Wrestle Kingdom - TV Asahi airs the main event of WK like an hour or two after the show wraps up, and there's a time limit so breaks can be inserted without cutting the match, and they went like five minutes over - to the point where when the announcer called that they hit 40 minutes, he turned to Gedo and said "do we go home now?", having planned another few sequences before the finish, and Gedo said "you got them going (referring to the crowd), just keep doing what you're doing".

Plus it's a match for a dead title featuring a guy who doesn't work for the company anymore and wasn't well-liked when he was there (and I'm pretty sure the WWF light heavyweight title of that era was essentially a New Japan belt at the time), so the effort expended to go at them for putting the match on youtube has about zero gain.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Masa Saito and Shinya Hashimoto vs Bam Bam Bigelow and “Punisher” Dice Morgan
March 2, 1990. Korakuen Hall, Tokyo


A pretty by-the-numbers, small show, midcard tag match. Fairly good, for what it was. Hashimoto and Bam Bam started with a pretty good hoss off.


Of course the most interesting thing about this match was “Punisher” Dice Morgan. At the time he was better known in WCW as Mean Mark Callous and would become even more well known a few months after this as The Undertaker.

As someone who’s only ever seen his work as The Undertaker, it’s fascinating watching him as a normal wrestler. He’s much more generally animated and vocal than he ever was as The Deadman, and sells all of his opponent’s offense. He even goes to the top rope more often than someone his size usually does.



In the end, “Punisher” Dice Morgan pins Saito with a flying elbow drop.


A decent match that’s interesting to watch if you’ve never seen The Undertaker before he was The Undertaker.

Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Saito(c) vs Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
April 24, 1990. Tokyo Bay NK Hall

Mildly interesting fact: This venue was a part of Tokyo Disney.

There seems to be a rivalry between Hashimoto and Mutoh, with how the crowd reacts whenever they’re in the ring together. At one point Hashimoto throws Chono into his corner to tag out, calling out Mutoh. Then, there’s how they locked up at the beginning of the match.


It was a pretty good match. The crowd were super into it from the beginning, and got even more into it during the home stretch. It was a fast paced, high intensity, good back-and-forth match. Even though Saito was clearly the slowest and stiffest(in terms of mobility) guy in the ring, he still did a good job holding up his portion of the match. His chops are still hard as gently caress, so that helps.

I like the jumping legdrop that seems to be in fashion around this time.

The best past of this match though is the sounds Hashimoto’s kicks make. Kinda hard to translate that into gif, though.


The finish is one of the more chaotic finishes that still have a clean ending, with all four men in the ring at one point brawling.

After Hashimoto accidentally hits Saito with a spinning leg lariat, Mutoh hits a moonsault to win.

I really enjoyed this one. Very worth a watch.

Shinya Hashimoto, Masa Saito, and Koji Kitao vs Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, and “Doctor Death” Steve Williams
May 24, 1990. Tokyo Bay NK Hall

If ever there were a combination of dudes I wouldn’t want to be on the opposite side of the ring from, work or shoot, it’d be the combination of Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Steve Williams.

Kitao is still getting heat just for being. Even the commentators point it out. Before the bell rings, Vader calls out Kitao to the delight of the audience, making him de-facto face. Sadly Saito and Williams are the ones to actually start out the match.

Man, what a hoss off this turned out to be. No, this wasn’t a hoss off. This was a hossfest. A celebration of hossness.





Bam Bam wonderful at selling, as always.

This was really neat.


Everybody was good to great. The weakest link in this match was Kitao and he was good enough in what little he did. Everyone else was in fine form and the crowd ate up every bit of it. I don’t know why this isn’t on the ‘recommended’ list. It’s not just a good match, it’s kind of unique. I can’t remember the last time I saw a 6-man tag like this, and I definitely haven’t seen one on NJPWorld so far. It was everything I hoped it would be when I saw the list of people involved.

The match ends with all the Gaijin ganging up on Saito with Vader getting the pin.

There’s an extended post-match confrontation between Kitao and Vader, with Kitao getting the upperhand, followed by a flustered Vader throwing a table.

Nice.

They brawl abit around ringside before getting pulled apart.

Watch this match, if you can. It’s really something else.

Unscheduled Bonus Match
Genichiru Tenryu and Tiger Mask vs Riki Choshu and George Takano
February 10, 1990. The Tokyo Dome


Y’know, I never really watched any All Japan. I know the names and reputations, but I think the only match I’ve ever watched involving the Big 5 was Kenta Kobashi vs Samoa Joe. I think it’s because when I first tried to get in to Japanese wrestling I gravitated to New Japan, due to the WCW connection, and Toryumon, due to the high-flying focus and also the Ultimo Dragon connection, so I never really found the time, opportunity or interest to watch what I’ve been assured are some of the best wrestlers ever having some of the best matches ever. Maybe if/when I wrap this up I’ll find a good source for AJPW matches.

There was great heat from the crowd throughout this match. It was kinda weird seeing someone so big in the Tiger Mask getup. Takano got a good reaction using a Tiger Suplex against Tiger Mask. There was an unexpected Frog Splash by Tiger Mask. Unexpected because Tiger Mask has done mostly kicks and drop kicks so far and unexpected because I thought Eddie Guerrero invented the move. A lot of planchas were thrown, between Takano and Tiger mask. I think I counted 5 total in the match?

Tiger Mask wins by countout. They were doing a double-countout spot between Tiger Mask and Takano and Tiger Mask just barely got in before the 20, and Takano did it. Pretty good way to do that kind of a finish.

A pretty fun match that I’m sure would be more interesting if I had any kind of emotional attachment to more than just 1 guy in it. I really didn’t get a good impression of Tenryu from this match. He was good, but I didn’t really see anything to make him stand out. I really wanted to watch this on a CRT TV to get the full effect. I tried making a couple gifs, but between my crappy software and the VHS noise, they looked terrible.
Thanks again to Ditch for providing the hookup. Do you know what’s up with the seemingly over-dubbed english entrance announcements?

Next time I’ll be watching Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto, the rematch between Vader and Stan Hansen, and Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh vs The Road Warriors

Platypus Farm
Jul 12, 2003

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


RealFoxy posted:

Vader was always described by Cornette as "Too nice to be a wrestler" and Stan was all gimmick in the ring but apparently a real nice guy outside of it too. Both would bruise the poo poo out of you in a match though

Well also it never helped that stan is totally loving blind and couldn't see whoever he was fighting unless they were three inches from his nose.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


It's weird to see "Punisher" Dice Morgan hitting some of the signature stuff he would do in his later Undertaker years - like it's the same guy and everything is there, it just feels off somehow.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
May 28, 1990. Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium


With how few matches are available on New Japan World, it’s difficult to know the actual context of this match. Within the context of the matches I’ve seen, this felt like a passing of the torch and an official establishment of Hashimoto as a big deal. Hashimoto was dominant throughout the match.



A Devastating bottom rope elbow drop. Seriously, what’s even the point. At least get up to the 2nd rope. Or just jump.

Choshu was the same tough bastard he always is, but he just wasn’t tough enough to weather Hashimoto’s onslaught of kicks. Choshu mounted a comeback towards the end, knocking Hashimoto out of the ring with a lariat to the back of his head. Once Hashimoto started recovering, Choshu left the ring and hit him with a backdrop to the floor and gets back in the ring. Then there’s this great shot of Choshu clearly hoping Hashimoto will stay down until the referee counts him out. Hashimoto does get back into the ring and Choshu hits him with everything he’s got, the backdrop suplex, a couple lariats, the Scorpion Deathlock, and it’s still not enough. Choshu hits him with another lariat and Hashimoto stays on his feet. Choshu goes for one more lariat and Hashimoto reverses it into a powerslam for the three count.

Great storytelling, a great match, a great way to establish Shinya Hashimoto.

Vader(c) vs Stan Hansen for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
June 12, 1990. Fukuoka International Center.


I think this was a better match than their last one. It’s lacking an iconic and horrific injury, sure, but on the whole it tells a better story and has a better finish than their more famous meeting.

Before the match, Vader takes off his mask, just in case I guess. It had a much more deliberate opening than their last encounter. It actually starts with a lockup instead of a flurry of hands. The main gist of this match is that neither man can beat the other in a straight up confrontation. Vader uses his superior agility,


While Hansen uses chairs, the ringpost, and in the end his bullrope to try to gain the advantage.


Even though the early parts are more deliberately paced, it’s still a pretty hossy match.



The match ends with both men bloody and desperately strangling each other with the bullrope for a double DQ.

I really enjoyed this one, and if you liked their first match you should definitely check this one out.


Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh vs The Road Warriors
July 22, 1990. Tsukimasu Green Dome


As soon as I opened the video, I was disappointed it was under 10 minutes. It ended up being a little better than I thought. The first 6 minutes were pretty much this:

The Road Warriors taking turns beating up Mutoh and Chono with little resistance. The tide turns when Chono gets his knees up to block a splash from Animal and makes a hot tag to Mutoh, who comes in with a flurry of dropkicks and


Mutoh hits the Moonsault, but then Hawk comes in with a chair and attacks both Mutoh and Chono for a disqualification.

The Road Warriors proceed to clobber any Young Lions they can get their hands on.

Meanwhile Chono and Mutoh grab chairs of their own for a standoff in the ring. There’s a pretty funny bit where Hawk tries to break a chair, but can’t.


The foreigners then skulk off while the local heroes stand defiant in the ring.

So, yeah, a pretty standard visiting-stars-vs-home-stars match, ended up being decent.

Next, I’ll be finishing up 1990 with Vader vs Riki Choshu, The Great Muta vs Hiroshi Hase(Don’t get too excited, it’s not that match), and Keiji Mutoh and Masahiro Chono vs Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.



Oh my God Stan rules so much. "gently caress your sunset flip, I'm sitting down on you and punching you in the goddamn face."

Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

-No idea what's up with the entrance thing, though big events in random places will add English intros (notably PRIDE)

-For all your All Japan needs, http://theditch.biz
(though there's so much it might be daunting to start; I can help if/when you get to it)

-Glad to see you enjoying that Choshu vs Hashimoto match, because they have a LOT more of those to come. It's quite a fun and consistently good rivalry

-I've never seen that 6-man, sounds fun!

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Ditch posted:

-For all your All Japan needs, http://theditch.biz
(though there's so much it might be daunting to start; I can help if/when you get to it)


Wow, this is fantastic. I guess I know what I'm doing after this project, assuming I actually finish it, which I actually think I will, because so far it's been fun and not that big of a time/energy burden.

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA


tzirean posted:

Foley also talks in his first book about how much of a total softy Vader is, IIRC.

Vader could also be a total loving rear end in a top hat like in his fight with Paul Orndorff where after he lost the fight he attacked Paul from behind to get his revenge on the guy with the hosed up arm. Or the incident on Kuwaiti TV.

Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

Takuan posted:

Wow, this is fantastic. I guess I know what I'm doing after this project, assuming I actually finish it, which I actually think I will, because so far it's been fun and not that big of a time/energy burden.
I feel like this is more timely because it's supporting the NJ streaming service and highlighting a lot of matches people aren't familiar with. Hopefully NTV does something similar soon!

MassRafTer posted:

Vader could also be a total loving rear end in a top hat like in his fight with Paul Orndorff where after he lost the fight he attacked Paul from behind to get his revenge on the guy with the hosed up arm. Or the incident on Kuwaiti TV.
A fight that one-armed, half-his-size Orndorff got the better of.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Vader(c) vs Riki Choshu for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
August 19, 1990. Ryogoku Kokugikan


I was kinda disappointed with this match. I mean, it was good, and told a clear story, but I was kinda hoping for a better match between these two. Or at least a longer one, this is only about 10 minutes. Throughout the whole thing, the crowd was super hot for Choshu. The story of the match was Vader dominating through most of it.


With Choshu getting the advantage briefly by attacking Vader’s eye. I like how Vader almost always has an exploitable weak-spot. First it was his arm, after Inoki cut it open, and now it’s his right eye, after his run in with Hansen. He’s kinda like a boss in a video game in that way. His eye still doesn’t look right.


Vader regains control of the match after they start brawling outside, with Choshu getting busted open. He continues to dominate the match until Choshu takes advantage of Vader going to the top rope.


Choshu exploited Vader’s vulnerable eye again, and won the match with a series of 5 lariats, ending Vader’s year long IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign.

Choshu would drop the title to Tatsumi Fujinami in December, who would lose the title back to Vader in January before losing the title again to Fujinami, and I don’t get to see none of it because it’s not on NJPWorld.


The Great Muta vs Hiroshi Hase
September 14, 1990. Hiroshima Sun Plaza.

OK, can someone explain to me the Muta/Mutoh dichotomy? How/why he worked as both The Great Muta and Keiji Mutoh back and forth and how they promoted/explained it? It’s not even that convincing of a transformation, he still does a lot of the same signature moves.

The match was what you’d call ‘methodical’ for about the first 10 minutes, with Muta in control for the vast majority of it.
Hase literally slaps the paint off of Muta.



Muta slams Hase into a post, which seems to be the default way of busting someone open in 80s/90s New Japan.
It’s not the legendary “Muta Scale Match”, but it still gets pretty bloody.

Muta maintains control of the match, though it seems the loss of blood is somehow making Hase tougher, he repeatedly challenges Muta to hit him, and for the last few minutes of the match gets fired up enough to make a comeback. That is, until

I will forever and always be a mark for the poison mist.

Muta shoves Tiger Hattori out of the ring and gets I don’t even know what from under the ring.

Looks like a rolled up banner or some kind of a tent maybe? He then attacks Hase, and Hattori, and anyone else that gets in the ring to end the match on a DQ.


Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono(c) vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
November 1, 1990. Nippon Budokan


Most of this match was briskly paced, fun to watch, but overall unremarkable. There were two high points. This:


And a great moment where Sasaki has Chono locked into a scorpion deathlock, Mutoh comes in to break it up, and Sasaki refuses to let go, until he decides to start slapping the poo poo out of Mutoh.


The last couple minutes are what make this match- Frenetic and chaotic with Mutoh looking like he had things won until Hase kicked out of the Moonsault. Sasaki hit an unexpected lariat

That allowed Hase to use a Northern Lights Suplex for the win.

1990 was kind of a mediocre year. It had some pretty good matches, but I feel like there was a lot of great stuff that’s not up on NJPWorld.

1991 starts with 4 matches from February 5: Jushin Liger vs Dave “Fit” Finlay, Keiji Mutoh vs Demolition Ax, Bam Bam Bigelow vs Scott “Flapjacks” Norton, and Tatsumi Fujinami vs Osamu Kido

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Takuan posted:

It’s not the legendary “Muta Scale Match”, but it still gets pretty bloody.


Jesus Christ it looks like he cut his throat

Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

One more 1990 tag...

Hase & Sasaki vs Koshinaka & Iizuka, December 13: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?f6rp6upzbsgjiyd

In November, Hase and Sasaki were the big underdogs. Now they come across as established (and sometimes arrogant) champs against even BIGGER underdogs. Baby Iizuka is pretty much the exact opposite of current Iizuka. Passable first half, very hot finish, including one of my all-time favorite pin break-ups.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


For the past several weeks New Japan World has been having trouble with streaming stuff in the archives. Newer videos worked perfectly, it just affected, y'know, anything I'd want to watch for this project. At first, some days it would work fine, other days I couldn't watch past the first 30 seconds of any video. Then it got worse and was happening whenever I tried to watch an old video. But it looks like the system maintenance they did on Monday fixed the problem so I should be able to pick this back up again. Hopefully I'll have an update by tomorrow.

Ditch posted:

Passable first half, very hot finish, including one of my all-time favorite pin break-ups.

I've watched the match, and if you're talking about what I think you're talking about. Magnificent.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Oh good, was worried you'd abandoned this, I've been enjoying following along

Jack Anderson
Jan 8, 2008

GOLDEN END


So have I. Keep it up man!

Takuan
May 6, 2007


It’s affirming to know people missed this project in its relatively brief absence.
Jushin Liger vs Dave “Fit” Finlay
February 5, 1991. Nakajima Sports Center


And what a match to start the year off with, one of those tedious matches where 75% of the time is the heel beating up the face, but the heel is so limited and uninspired he ends up doing the same few moves over and over again and the last 25% is a halfway decent back-and-forth with the face winning in the end.

The most interesting spot in the match was this:

I didn’t say it was good, or cool, but I ain’t never seen a slingshot stomp before, so that’s, y’know, something.

Keiji Mutoh vs Demolition Ax
February 5, 1991. Nakajima Sports Center

I have a theory, and if you’ve read it in another thread I apologize for repeating myself and if you haven’t, it’s that the only people that like Demolition are people that didn’t know about the Road Warriors first. I believe this was during a stint where Bill Eadie had left the WWF and he was still using the gimmick in Japan while Demolition continued in the WWF with Demolition Crush.

A very sharp contrast between the two men in this match. Where Mutoh is vibrant and agile and passionate, Ax is blubbery and lumbering and just . I don’t say this lightly, but I genuinely think I could have had a better match with Keiji Mutoh than Ax did here. At the very least, I can honestly say I would try harder to have a better match with Keiji mutoh than Ax did.

So, I was thinking while I was watching this, because it was more engaging and entertaining than what was happening on the screen, y’know what I think really kills the Demolition look? The hair. If they’d have had some kinda wild haircuts, it would’ve really helped. It would have sold the idea that this is who these dudes are all day, instead of their slicked-back 80s regular-rear end guy hair, that made them look like members of a suburban S&M club.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs Scott “Flapjack” Norton
February 5, 1991. Nakajima Sports Center


OK, fine, he’s not actually working under the name “Flapjack”, but it’s such a stupid, fun nickname I can’t help myself.

It’s charitable to even call this a match. It’s technically over in about 3 minutes. Poor Bam Bam gets beaten down before he can fully get into the ring.

Norton and Bam Bam beat the gently caress out of each other, leading to a fairly rare double-blade job before Bam Bam shoves the referee down, leading to… A no contest I guess?

They brawl around the outside for a bit before brawling to the back. Bam Bam returns a little while later looking for Norton, then there’s an edit, and Norton comes back out looking for Bam Bam. They brawl a little bit more and go back to the back.

I mean, it was fun, what little of it there was.


Tatsumi Fujinami vs Osamu Kido
February 5, 1991. Nakajima Sports Center

Tatsumi Fujinami finally returns after a back injury sidelined him in June of 89. Well, he returned in late 1990, winning the IWGP Championship from Riki Choshu in December then losing it to Vader in January, but I didn’t get to see any of that since none of it is on NJPWorld.

What I am getting to see feels like a house show main event. It was fine, though. Especially after the other matches in this post, it was nice to see a classic, black boots black trunks, mat-wrestling heavy New Japan style match. It wasn’t exceptional, but it was solid. Plus,it was just good to see Fujinami again. Fujinami wins with what I believe is called a crucifix rollup.


Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasake vs Shiro Koshinaka & Takayuki Iizuka
December 13, 1990. Ryogoku Kokugikan


So, this is the first I’m seeing or hearing of a stable called the Dragon Bombers, lead by Tatsumi Fujinami and consisting of Jushin Liger, Koshinaka, Iizuka, and Black Cat. They all get custom yellow bomber jackets that have “BOMBER” across the back and “Power of <guy wearing the jacket>” underneath. This is super cool and I’m sad I haven’t been able to see more of it. Unrelated pre-match note: Young Kensuke Sasake looks a lot like a young Hiroyoshi Tenzan.

Young Iizuka is completely unrecognizable from the hobbled old man that looks like he’s constantly in pain you see today. It’s one of the more radical transformations I can think of. Iizuka is also younger than I thought. He’s 51 currently, making him only 2 years older than Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki. I thought he was in his 60s at least.

As for this match, it was a lot of fun. Really fast paced, it kind of meandered at times, but at least there was always stuff happening. Iizuka and Sasake were fine, but Hase and Koshinaka really carried this match.

This is the kinda thing I wish I’d see more of during these leglocks


Can’t decide if Koshinaka going to the top rope, hopping down, then dropkicking Hase was cool or dumb. I feel like he wanted to go for a missile dropkick, but once he got up there realized it’d be too dangerous under the circumstances.


Seriously one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in pro-wrestling. The efficiency and craftsmanship behind it is just marvelous.


I could hear the AKI Game reversal sound in my head when this happened.

That looked very unpleasant.
Sasake gets the pin on Iizuka after the above move.

Thanks again to Ditch for posting that. It’s well worth checking out if you haven’t already. It also reminds me I need to catch up on the World Tag League.

Next up: Starrcade!(kinda)

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Weird to see you so unimpressed by Finlay, though to be fair I feel like he is a guy who got better and better as he aged.

Takuan posted:

Seriously one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in pro-wrestling.

I highly doubt that Why I've seen so many great things I doubt this will impre-


I stand corrected!

C. Everett Koop
Aug 18, 2008

by Smythe


Well if Iizuka's gonna get judo tossed like that no wonder he's in pain today.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Jerusalem posted:

Weird to see you so unimpressed by Finlay, though to be fair I feel like he is a guy who got better and better as he aged.


I missed his comeback run in the mid-2000s, but I remember enjoying him in WCW in the late 90s. It's really not so much Finlay that I didn't like, it was the structure of the match. I generally think the style of match where the heel beats up on the face continuously for 3/4ths of the match are dull(with rare exceptions), and it'd take someone with a much more varied moveset than Finlay had(at the time, anyways), to make that kind of match anywhere near tolerable.

Adaptabullshit
Oct 24, 2012



Muta and Muto were on paper different wrestlers and promoted accordingly. The idea was that he was a soldier from hell, but that's about as far as they went. According to legend, NJPW office wasn't really keen on having the Muta character in their roster, but it did bring in great amount of money and ratings.

In regards of wrestling style, mid-90s Muta showed a lot of difference where there would be more "hardcore" spots and puerto rico style brawling. A little after that, the styles started to meld (mostly because the man started to break down).

Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

-The timing on any pin break-up is literally down to tenths of a second and Hase did it CASUALLY. Still incredible. (And yes that's the one I was referencing)

-It's weird that Finlay is known as a really snug/stiff, technically-sound wrestler, yet he didn't deliver that in early '90s Japan. It makes me wonder why he was even brought over, and if the reason for his improvement was learning from the likes of Liger and Benoit during his tours.

-Regarding juniors matches (especially in the '90s), they tended to be really boring in the first half because only the ending sprint would be shown on TV. So a match like Liger vs Finlay would only show the final bit of Finlay control and the Liger comeback, rather than the whole thing. Only a handful of undercard juniors matches really benefit from seeing the start. Whereas, the wrestlers would know that everything would be shown on juniors shows like the J Cup or a tournament final, and deliver a more compelling start.

Ditch fucked around with this message at Nov 30, 2017 around 19:41

Perry Normal
Jul 23, 2010

Humans disgust me. Vile creatures.


Takuan posted:

Muta shoves Tiger Hattori out of the ring and gets I don’t even know what from under the ring.

Looks like a rolled up banner or some kind of a tent maybe? He then attacks Hase, and Hattori, and anyone else that gets in the ring to end the match on a DQ.

That's an old-school medical stretcher I believe, which was like an army cot with handles on either end.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Ditch posted:

-Regarding juniors matches (especially in the '90s), they tended to be really boring in the first half because only the ending sprint would be shown on TV. So a match like Liger vs Finlay would only show the final bit of Finlay control and the Liger comeback, rather than the whole thing. Only a handful of undercard juniors matches really benefit from seeing the start. Whereas, the wrestlers would know that everything would be shown on juniors shows like the J Cup or a tournament final, and deliver a more compelling start.

That makes a lot of sense. I guess I really wasn't missing much in those 'clipped for TV' matches on the old VHS tapes from highspots.

1991’s big Tokyo Dome show was a crossover show with WCW. It was promoted in Japan as “Starrcade in the Tokyo Dome”, though when it was aired on PPV in the US a month later it was called simply WCW/New Japan Supershow. Looking down the match list, it’s probably going to suck, and I’m probably going to regret watching the whole thing, but now’s not the time to dwell on that, I’ve got 11 matches to get through.

Starrcade in Tokyo Dome
March 21, 1991


Match 1: Kantaro Hoshino, Osamu Kido, Kengo Kimura, & Animal Hamiguchi vs Norio Honaga, Hiro Saito, Tatsutoshi Goto, and Super Strong Machine.
“Corps Survival Match”

From the description I’m guessing this is an elimination match.

Or not. The match ended with a single fall. There’s not really much to say about this match. Everyone involved felt like a relic, but made kinda sad because they’re relics who weren’t all that great to begin with. It looked disjointed in a lot of spots, like one guy wasn’t entirely sure what the other guy was doing but was still trying to go along with it the best he could. Really felt like there wasn’t any kind of plan between the start and the finish of the match.

One thing in this match I liked, that’s something that was common in this era that I feel needs to make a comeback, is these synchronized clubbing forearm spots.


Kengo Kimura pins Tatsutoshi Goto after Super Strong Machine accidentally clotheslines him.

Match 2: Takayuki Iizuka, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka vs The Z-Man, Brian Pillman, and Tim Horner

I’ve never heard of Tim Horner before. Apparently, his career highlights were tagging with Brad Armstrong for 2 years and stealing a truck from Jim Cornette.

This was significantly better than the last match. I mean, it was still a aimless time-filler, but it was much more fun to watch. It was fast paced, almost no down time, full of quick tags, and I don’t think there was a single submission hold through the whole thing. The American side in particular had pretty good cohesion.


Everyone held up their end of things. Tim Horner, though I’ve never heard of him, seemed like he was a pretty decent lightweight wrestler, for his time and place. Brian Pillman outshone everyone else with moves like this:

It was decent, and wouldn’t be out of place on a modern undercard.



Match 3: Scott Norton vs Erukazai
Steroids Warriors Showdown

No, seriously, that’s what it says in the video description. Steroids Warriors Showdown.

This match sucked, but at least it was really short. Norton dominates the first minute or so, “Erukazai” dominated the next minute or so, before Norton got the win with what I think was supposed to be a powerslam.

I went to look up this guy, and it turns out his name is supposed to be “The Equalizer,” and he’s the man who would be Dave Sullivan in WCW. He looks like a living bootleg wrestling action figure you find in drug stores, where the top half is a knock-off of the Ultimate Warrior and the bottom half is a knock-off of Bruiser Brody.



Apparently, now he’s Athletics Director at Dana College in Nebraska. Good for him.

Match 4: Jushin Thunder Liger(c) vs AKIRA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
A very colorful match from the outset as Akira Nogami has apparently adopted a Kabuki gimmick

And Liger is wearing his rarely seen 3rd costume slot green outfit


The match starts like a highlight reel for Liger, the hundred-palm-strikes, a somersault senton to the outside, the mexican surfboard, the rolling kick, all in sequence with no offense from AKIRA until he manages to reverse a submission and begins a sequence of dull submission work. Even the announcers get bored because I can hear them talking about Fujinami and Flair, and repeatedly saying STAHHCADE IN TOKYO DOME(so desu ne).

Liger takes control of the match back and… I don’t even know what this was supposed to be.

A botched ducked-under dropkick? A botched leapfrog?
It’s actually comical how when AKIRA has control of the match, the commentators start talking about other stuff. After another dull sequence of submissions, I could tell the commentators were talking about other Junior Heavyweights, Black Tiger, David Finlay, Pegasus Kid.

This was about the coolest thing he did all match.


Everyone should commit to the “Double-Feet-Up To Counter A Splash” spot like Liger and AKIRA did here.

I’ll give this match credit, as the submission work from the middle section of the match paid off towards the end when Liger’s ankle gave out trying to do a Tombstone Piledriver.

Liger gets the win with a Super DDT.



I don’t know how I feel about this match. It had some really cool points, but I think AKIRA is just not capable of putting on the kind of epic match they were going for. Liger was great, as always, and the structure and the story of the match was good, but AKIRA not only didn’t bring much to the match, he actively detracted from it for most of the time he was in control.

Match 5: Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito vs Arn Anderson & Barry Windham

Barry Windham lookin’ like a real-life Duke Phillips


There exists enough talent between these four guys to have a hell of a match, but that’s not what we got here. This match was booked as a midcard filler, and that’s exactly the level they worked to. It was fine, but nothing noteworthy or memorable.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Arn’s selling here.



Match 6: Hioshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki(c) vs The Steiner Brothers(c) for the IWGP Tag Team Championship and WCW World Tag Team Championship

The Steiners were a badass tag team in their day. The shame is that their peak came at the low ebb in the business. They missed the glory days of the 80s and by the time 1998 came and people started watching wrestling again, they’d broken up, with Scott evolving into his next form and Rick at the very beginning of what would be a steep decline in his abilities.

This was a great match with a classic dynamic of the Steiners isolating and brutalizing Hase for most of the match until the hot tag to Sasake evened things out.






It wasn’t quite enough to beat The Steiners

The Steiner Brothers win the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

Really good(though maybe not great) match, well worth checking out.

The Steiners would hold the IWGP Tag Titles until November, when they lost them to Hase and Mutoh in a match that I won’t get to see because it’s not on NJPWorld.

Match 7: El Gigante vs Big Cat Hughs



Match 7: Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow vs DOOM(Butch Reed & Ron Simmons)
#1 Strife Tag Match


A decent beefy brawl, but nothing really noteworthy. It’s fun seeing Vader get to work as a face and play to the crowd to a huge chant of his name. Same for Bam Bam, but that’s less rare. Most memorable thing was seeing Ron Simmons casually lift Vader for a spinebuster.


Also, Bam Bam had a great 2.9 kickout. Like for a split second I seriously thought the match was going to end on a 2nd-rope elbow drop.

Vader wins with a splash on Simmons. Afterwards Reed attacks Simmons. They brawl for a bit before being separated and alternately shouting “That’s the last time!” and “I’m done with you!” I guess this is when they broke up.



Match 9: Sting vs The Great Muta
Special Dream Match

I know these two feuded while Mutoh was on excursion to the states, but I haven’t seen any of their matches, so I don’t know how this one stacks up to any of their other encounters.

This was an interestingly paced match. When they were doing spots, they were super energetic and dazzling to watch. When they weren’t actively doing a spot, they were in a rest hold. One specific hold more often than not, a standing front chancery.





On the whole, it was pretty good. The pauses never dragged, it was just kinda jarring and made the match feel like there wasn’t any kind of flow to it.

When Muta gouged at Sting’s eyes, I think it’s the first time I’ve heard a New Japan guy get booed on this show. The commentary team was very well researched, I could tell they were talking about Sting and the Ultimate Warrior being tag team partners. I’ve confirmed that Sting kinda sucks at the Scorpion Deathlock. He’s no Riki Choshu that’s for sure. Hell, he’s not even a Hiroshi Hase.

Mutoh gets the win after a mist-assisted twisting crossbody.
In an oddly unfacelike display, Sting gets post-match revenge hitting Mutoh with a Stinger Splash followed by a Scorpion Deathlock that takes a ring full of people to break up.


Match 10: Riki Choshu(c) vs Tiger Jeet Singh for the Greatest 18 Championship

So from what I can tell the Greatest 18 Championship was intended to be a secondary main-event title, similar to the modern IWGP Intercontinental Championship, I guess. The “Greatest 18” was a hall of fame of some kind? It was awarded to Riki Choshu upon creation in late 1990. Information on this is really difficult to find. The physical belt itself is Inoki’s old WWF World Martial Arts Championship.

Y’know people complain today about how dumb it is that Triple H uses a sledgehammer but never really uses it? Tiger Jeet Singh is a hundred times worse for carrying around a sword everywhere but only ever bashing people with the handle.

By the way, this match sucked, and was bad, and even though it was only about 10 minutes felt like it dragged on too long.
Best part is when Choshu bent the sword in half.

Choshu wins via knockout after a lariat to the back of the head.

Ric Flair(c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami(c) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
This match was presented differently in the United States than it was live in Japan. In Japan it was presented with both NWA and IWGP Championships on the line. For the US Broadcast, only the WCW Heavyweight Championship, which was technically separate from the NWA championship, but represented by the same belt, was mentioned in the match.


I know these two were capable of putting on a much better match than this. I think the primary reason it wasn’t as good as it could have been was that this was deep into Jim Herd’s reign of terror in WCW, and about 4 months before Flair would quit and head to the WWF, so I don’t think Flair gave much of a gently caress about this match. It wasn’t bad, it was decent. Flair at his worst is better than quite a few guys at their best.

Fujinami kept trying to play to the crowd in the beginning and really didn’t have the charisma to pull it off. Not that the crowd wasn’t behind him in general, they were just unresponsive when he tried to engage them. Though for most of the match I couldn’t tell tell if the crowd was dead or if this was the ‘respectful silence’ you hear so much about from Japanese crowds. They woke up towards the end, though.

It had a good sense of back and forth. Fujinami dominated in the beginning, being much more aggressive in the first few minutes with Flair selling his rear end off for him, but after awhile Flair began to predict and evade his moves. Flair gradually mounted an advantage, using mildly underhanded tactics, causing Fujinami to get frustrated. The tide turned when Fujinami threw Flair from the turnbuckle, sent him to the outside, and bashed his head repeatedly against the guardrails, busting his forehead open. From then until the end it was pretty back and forth.

A big drawback of this match was that it was kind of repetitive. They did a few of the same sequences 3 or 4 times. Sometimes they would change it up, with one of them countering the last move in the sequence that worked the first time, but most of the time they didn’t. I Think they botched the ‘throw flair from the top turnbuckle’ spot midway through.


They did it right later on, though.

Bill Alfonso did a great job as referee. He acted more like a legitimate fighting referee than I think I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match. He was constantly getting between them when one of them was in the corner, or on the outside or on the apron or whatever.


This was pretty neat.

The closing minutes saw Fonzie get incapacitated.

Allowing Fujinami to get a visual/crowd assisted pinfall. Tiger Hattori steps in to fulfill the officiating duties, and Fujinami rolls up flair with a crucifix cradle.

Fujinami wins the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.*




*According to NJWP and the NWA he did, anyways. According to WCW, however, after Alphonso got knocked out, Fujinami threw flair over the top rope, which was a disqualification according to the WCW Championship Committee.

As far as WCW was concerned, Flair retained the title. Flair and Fujinami would face off again at WCW’s Superbrawl in May, where Flair would win the title back/successfully defend it against Fujinami again, depending on who you ask.



And that’s the first of three NJPW/WCW Supershows. It was decent, I think. About the best you could get out of an isolated crossover show like this.

Next time, I’ll be wrapping up 1991 with Jushin Liger vs Norio Honaga, Tatsumi Fujinami vs Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh vs Masahiro Chono in the first ever G1 Climax, Tatsumi Fujinami vs The Great Muta, and finally Vader vs Scott Norton. The shame is NJPWorld only goes up to September 1991.

El Gallinero Gros
Mar 17, 2010


I feel like Singh either made the right friends In Japan or was supremely over there because I've never seen him have a good match or gotten any impression that he was a compelling promo.

Tiger Ali Singh might have been worse.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.


Ahh, I love being reminded that Kensuke Sasaki exists, that glorious tree of a man

The Flair/Fujinami story never fails to fascinate, it's just so weird to think of anything similar ever happening today.

Ditch
Jul 29, 2003

Backdrop Hunger

Steiners vs Hase & Sasaki is famous for being a 'gateway' match in the early days of tape trading, but yeah it isn't actually anything special once you've watched a fair amount of Japanese wrestling.

And I'm also mystified by Tiger Ali Singh's career. He's a poor man's Original Sheik, and Original Sheik was already dire unless he was being carried by Terry Funk.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


I remember the first time I saw Tiger Jeet Singh was when my friend borrowed some 5th-generation-copy FMW tape from another kid at school. When we first saw him we were all "He has a sword! That's so cool! He's totally gonna stab people and stuff! "

How wrong, and massively disappointed, we were.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Dec 11, 2017 around 21:19

Takuan
May 6, 2007


Happy New Year's Eve! I wish I could get these up faster, but between planning for the holidays(Christmas, and New Years and a dual-birthday party), the holidays themselves, and New Japan's intermittent issues when streaming from the archives, it's slow going putting this update together. I'm hoping in January I can pick up the pace. I know it's dumb and pointless to compare, but man, Rarity is putting me to shame in terms of thread content.

Anyways. On to the last matches of 1991.

Jushin Liger vs Norio Honaga for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the 1991 Top of the Super Juniors tournament final.
April 30, 1991. Ryugoku Kokukigan


The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was vacated 15 days before this match so that the title could be added to the first Top of the Super Juniors tournament since 1988. The field for the tournament consisted of 2 Cold Scorpio, Fit Finlay, Owen Hart, Negro Casas, Chris Benoit, and the two finalists, Norio Honaga and Jushin Liger.

I’m not sure about how I feel about this match. On the one hand, it was too slow paced for what I would want(or expect) from something like a Top of the Super Juniors final. On the other hand, for the style of match it was, it was actually pretty good.

Norio Honaga is a literal light heavyweight wrestler. He wrestles like a heavyweight, just smaller. He made his debut in 1980 and it shows in his pacing and his moves. He feels outdated next to guys like Liger, Owen Hart, and 2 Cold Scorpio.

All that being said, this is a good ‘epic’(for lack of a better word) match. From the halfway point on, almost every spot feels like it could potentially be a match ender, so it feels right that they take a little while to recover before doing the next thing. The last few minutes are full of nearfalls until Honaga finally gets the win with a straight-jacket german suplex.



It was pretty cool to see a powerbomb onto the announce table. The table not breaking made it seem legit dangerous, like he may as well have dropped him on the unpadded floor.


This may not look like much in gif form, but in the video you could hear his chest smack into Liger’s feet.


Tatsumi Fujinami vs Masahiro Chono for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship(I think)
May 31, 1991. Osaka-Jo Hall.


The title of the video doesn’t specify that it’s for the title, but I keep hearing the announcers say “BIG CHANSU” in the opening and hear them refer Chono as “Challen-ja”, so…

Man, what a disappointment. Many main-event New Japan matches fall into a similar structure- A spirited back-and-forth in the first few minutes, a middle-third of mostly submission wrestling, then a hot home stretch full of big moves and reversals and near-falls. It’s not the best structure, in my opinion, but it works well enough. In this match, the opening phase lasted about 2 minutes, and it never really entered into the third phase. The vast majority of this match was submission work that didn’t really go anywhere or tell any kind of story or pay off in any way.

Which was a shame because there were some amazing spots in this match.






But everything that wasn’t in the gifs above was just kinda dull. Fujinami retains after Chono passed out from a Dragon Sleeper.

Keiji Mutoh vs Masahiro Chono for the 1st G1 Climax Championship
August 11, 1991. Ryogoku Kokugikan


This was a really good match that I don’t think is as great as people say. It’s an excellent example of the New Japan Main Event formula done well, but I feel like sticking so closely to that formula is what kept this match from being truly great.

Maybe it’s just my taste, since this match has 2 things I’m not fond of- A middle section full of pointless submission work and one wrestler dominating the offense with the other getting only an occasional hit in. What made it all worse was that Chono had a bandaged bicep in this match, and even though Mutoh spent almost all of the 2nd phase and the first portion of the third phase on offence, only once did he go for that arm, and even then only for a minute. He used leg locks, Indian Deathlocks, a Cattle Mutilator, but only once did he try for an armbar on Chono’s injured arm. And I get the psychological reason behind one guy spending most of the match getting beat up then making a comeback and winning, but in practice I just find it kind of boring and tedious to watch. There’s a time and a place where that can work really well, but a match between two guys of the same size who came up together in the finals of a major tournament isn’t it.

On the positive side, both guys worked their asses off and there was some great emoting by both men(Mutoh’s “What do I have to do to beat this guy” look after three piledrivers and Chono’s “Oh God, I think I’m about to die” face during the beginning of a Dragon Suplex come to mind).

The last 10-or-so minutes, things even out between both competitors and that’s by far when this match is at its best.





“Oh, cool, they’re going for a double dropki-


Masahiro Chono becomes the first ever G1 Climax Champion.


There was much rejoicing.
Shame folk don’t huck seat cushions into the ring anymore. It oughta be a G1 Climax tradition, I say.

On a side note, I’ve been noticing Chono does this weird stuttering grunt through most of his matches. It’s really obnoxious.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs The Great Muta
September 23, 1991. Yokohama Arena


Now this was a great example of a match where one person dominates, and in a lot of ways illustrates the flaws of the Mutoh/Chono match.

Though the match started out with Fujinami taking the initiative


Muta gained control fairly early on and spent most of the match wailing on Fujinami with anything he could get his hands on. The ring bell, the bell hammer, a metal case, a fold-up stretcher(I think), and in the end a bottle. It was like in the old AKI games when one player would keep pulling weapons from the crowd. Muta was brutal, vicious, and relentless. If Muta had shown up to the G1 Climax instead of Mutoh, it would have made for a much better bout. When Fujinami made his comeback, he had a fire and intensity that Chono in the previous match lacked. He’s pissed about getting beat up for the past however many minutes, even shoving the referee away when he tries to get him to back off from Muta in the corner.

But, as is the way of things, the ref accidentally gets a face full of poison mist(OK, it looks like it completely missed him, but ), and while Fujinami gets a visual 3-count with a German Suplex, Muta whacks him with a bottle

And hits the Moonsault for the win.

Vader vs Scott Norton
September 23, 1991


It was aiight. There’s not really much to talk about and try as I might, I can’t think of anything interesting or insightful about this match.

And that’s the end of NJPWorld’s coverage of 1991. Weird how most years kinda stop in September. I’ll be back, at some point, with New Japan’s first ever January 4 Tokyo Dome showStarrcade ‘92.

Takuan fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2018 around 17:53

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


Honestly, even as a relatively recent New Japan convert, I can tell that the company kinda runs from the Dome to the G1 and anything after the G1 finals barely matters.

Super No Vacancy
Jul 26, 2012

yahallo


the time between the g1 and the dome is used to build the dome show which makes a lot more sense than having the world title defended in some nonsense 6 man scramble the month after the royal rumble

MassRafTer
May 26, 2001

Fundamentals as sound as the WNBA


Gaz-L posted:

Honestly, even as a relatively recent New Japan convert, I can tell that the company kinda runs from the Dome to the G1 and anything after the G1 finals barely matters.

A weird thing to say given the IWGP title changed hands in 2014 in that period and the IC title changed hands last year and the year before that... and the year before that.

frankenfreak
Feb 16, 2007

Almanya önde!
Bir başka hedef!
Sonsuz şef Löw için zafer!


Takuan posted:

“Oh, cool, they’re going for a double dropki-
The gif won't load for me which is a shame since after watching the match I want this spot to be seen even by people who didn't watch the match on NJPWWorld.

Takuan
May 6, 2007


frankenfreak posted:

The gif won't load for me which is a shame since after watching the match I want this spot to be seen even by people who didn't watch the match on NJPWWorld.
This should be fixed now.

Looking at the title histories of the various belts in New Japan at this time, there have been quite a few title changes during the end-year stretches not covered by NJPWorld. Saying that New Japan only really runs between the Dome and the G1 doesn't really hold up during this time period, as this was the first ever G1 and the first January 4th Dome show isn't until 'next' year. I mean, yeah, the Tag League seems to always have been nothing major, but New Japan is, and as far as I can tell always has been, fairly active in the fall and winter months.

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


Welp, egg on my face I guess. Colour me corrected.

Venomous
Nov 7, 2011



One more match worth a look from that year, and idk why it isn't on World. Rick Steiner and Scott Norton vs. Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase for the IWGP Tag Team Championships from November 5th 1991. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x38elou

e: idk why Scott Norton was subbed in for Scott Steiner. Guessing Scott couldn't make the trip over to Japan and back with Rick, even though (or maybe because????) they were in a WCW house show the next day, so they thought 'eh, gently caress it, we'll just use Scott Norton instead, nobody'll notice the difference' or something like that.

Venomous fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2018 around 20:40

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El Gallinero Gros
Mar 17, 2010


Venomous posted:

One more match worth a look from that year, and idk why it isn't on World. Rick Steiner and Scott Norton vs. Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase for the IWGP Tag Team Championships from November 5th 1991. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x38elou

Is that the one where they debuted the double team top rope DDT

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