Big bomb throwing. This is a week all about big bomb throwing.
Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Mr. Gannosuke (FMW, 4/21/1998)
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlcOdRRml8U
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADY6cZJ-U4Q
This is just a great bomb throwing festival between two guys with a long standing blood feud, who arenít interested in dancing around, but instead a match where both guys are just playing for a KO from pretty much moment #1.
Shinzaki is a guy that a lot of the time does a pretty stoic, very methodical gimmick, but Gannosuke is a guy where he pitches that out the window. Right off the bat he tries to jump Gannosuke in the aisle, which is a mistake as our good friend Kintaro Kanemura hammers him with a chair, then Gannosuke jumps him while heís distracted. Team No Respect decide to go right for the kill, set up a table at ringside, and the two of them powerbomb Shinzaki off the apron through the table on the floor. Shinzaki juices, and Gannosuke spends the next little while working over the cut, smashing at it with part of the table, and attacking it with various strikes, trying to really bust him up.
Eventually Shinzaki gets some control and tries to suplex Gannosuke right from in the ring out to the floor, which comes off looking sort of half botched, but it really still works for the story. I mean in a blood feud with two guys throwing bombs, trying to kill the guy by throwing him to the floor really shouldnít always look that pretty anyway. Gannosuke gets back in the ring and when Shinzaki looks set to inflict more heavy damage, so how does Gannosuke respond? Punt him straight in the balls. This is a really simple match to understand and enjoy. Gannosuke then does one of his favourites, ripping off the Shinzaki praying power bomb for lots of booing, and a 2 count.
Shinzaki is in a lot of trouble, so he says ďfuck itĒ and fights fire with fire, and ends up punting Gannosuke in the sac right back, then hits that really cool standing backflip kick that no one else makes look as good, and then a really really nasty looking second rope double stomp. That shit had to hurt.
Back and forth we go. Powerbombs. Knocked off the apron through a table. Big top rope move attempts, more powerbombs, big clubbing clotheslines, a crazy choke hold, more attempts to kick each other in the nuts. Thereís really no matwork to be found in this at all, just two guys trying to knock each other out. The finish requires Shinzaki to dig deep into the well for an enhanced version of his powerbomb for a pin. This is not super long (though not really short either), but itís just great. A really fun scrap with two guys looking for the KO at every single turn makes for an easy to enjoy ride.
Tom ďZ-ManĒ Zenk vs. Vader (World Championship Wrestling, Great American Bash 1990)
This was Vaderís WCW debut and is he ever a guy that is capable of making an impression in a big hurry. Z-Man is about as white meat babyface as you get, then you get Vaderís really out there entrance when he still had the giant headgear (with smoke), and you really have the impression where this is going but you want to see it anyway. The bell ringsÖ and itís just total carnage in there. I love a really good squash match, you can really tell the difference between one that worked and one that just filled time. This is one that worked. Vader walks in as a new guy in WCW, and walks out as a really scary motherfucker.
Vader just destroys him with killer punches and forearms, the big splash in the corner, and a big clothesline. Zenk ends up on the entrance ramp and Vader just grabs him by the head with both hands and pulls him in over the top rope hanging him a few feet in the air. Zenk gets in a dropkick, but other than that it is all one way traffic and is over in a flash, he takes a military press, a huge elbow drop and the crowd has a buzz about them like ďthis guy isnít here just to make up the numbersĒ. Vader gets in a couple more moves, then the big splash for the kill. The commentary does a good job selling this as an event worth paying attention to as well, so props to good oleí JR.
An amazing squash. Youíll see one thing like this a year, if youíre lucky. I love this match.
Promo: Roddy Piper is ready to rumble. Just a little.
MATCH OF THE WEEK (Which also happens to be on YouTube, hey ho):
Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Rusher Kimura Ė 2 out of 3 falls (All Japan Pro Wrestling, 3/28/1976)
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmO5pJT8dZw
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqJDZb2hbnk...feature=related
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk5kRUC3WXQ...feature=related
Hopefully a few things that I want to pull out of my own collection to talk about are on YouTube as well. Luckily this was, and it looks like a very recent addition.
This is a personal favourite of mine and it was a lot of fun revisiting it once again. 1970ís wrestling is something I really developed more of an appreciation for the longer Iíve watched, and itís something a lot of people have (somewhat understandably) slept on while looking at newer things. Rusher is a guy that isnít really thought of as having that many memorable matches (though in fairness IWE where Rusher was top dog isnít that well seen, though thereís little in his other work to suggest he was a regular great match guy), where as Jumbo was really well thought of from even the extremely early stages of his career. Put together they produced a pretty interesting and memorable clash.
At the time, Rusher was the big star and focus guy in the IWE group, which was a smaller organization that was cross-promoting with All Japan. So this is something that had a real ďbig matchĒ vibe around it at the time. You really get that sense of championship tension the whole time here, which adds a lot to the atmosphere.
The first fall is mainly Rusher getting Jumbo into various basic holds, and Jumbo working out of them. A couple of times they get into slap and chop exchanges briefly but then get back into a hold. Thereís an interesting vibe to things, where you get the idea story-wise that both guys would be happy to just brawl and beat on each other, but thereís a machismo factor of both guys wanting to outwrestle the other, so they keep trying to work holds instead. Late in the first fall though, both guys just canít take it anymore and start throwing a few bombs, and eventually Rusher comes out on top with a vertical suplex for a first fall pin.
The second fall starts out cautious again, as if both guys are wary of what the other is going to do next. You get the feeling both guys know if they start brawling itís not coming back to civility, so instead they decide to stick to trying to outwrestle each other for now. Rusher starts working a headlock, but Jumbo eventually gets his way out of it by going to a kneebreaker. The crowd is really into it here, as there really is that big match atmosphere the whole way through. Jumbo works over Rusherís leg for a while after this, before eventually the patern of the first fall repeats again. You get your moments of heated exchange between various holds. After a wrestling section, Rusher comes up swinging. This turns out to be a big mistake as Jumbo blasts him with a huge standing dropkick, and a couple of double arm suplexes later the match is tied at one fall each. This is one of the cool things about Jumbo in this period, is that he often would do matches where he mostly wrestles, but if people get him mad he can go into great outbursts that overwhelm opponents.
The first two falls are satisfying and good, but the third fall is the real icing on the cake that satisfies what the first two have promised. This time very early Rusher refuses to make a clean break on the ropes, hitting a big chop instead. Jumbo returns the favor, and both guys have had enough feeling out and exchanging holds, its bomb throwing time. They end up out on the floor a couple of times, ramming each other into the ringpost and brawling around, just trading shots seeing who can last longer. Eventually they end up back in the ring and thereís a sequence of suplexes from each guy working nearfalls.. Eventually Jumbo tries to get Rusher for a German suplex, but Rusher manages to kick off the ropes, dropping both guys pretty hard while Jumbo hangs on. The ref counts three, and both guys think theyíve won. A lot of ring seconds and officials around as the referee trying to keep order declares it was a double pin in the third fall. Neither wrestler seems thrilled, thereís a staredown between each other before they start brawling again, and now you get over a dozen guys in the ring trying to separate them. Eventually things calm down and the two (with some prodding by the referee) agree to shake hands and accept the draw.
This is a really enjoyable match against a more or less totally unexpected opponent. The first two falls are worked as more cautious traditional wrestling that both end in bigger, fast bursts, and the third fall works off those into a more heavy action conclusion. A lot of people have called this a one-man show, and although itís true that most everyone is going to agree that Tsuruta is a much better wrestler than Kimura overall, Rusher does hold up his end of this battle. You wonít see a lot of Rusher matches that get talked about as top level stuff, but this is a wholeheartedly enjoyable big match between two guys that were definitely on for the day. Personally, this is one of my favourite matches from the time frame that Iíve seen. Just a really enjoyable top heavyweight clash.
YOUTUBE MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Steve Regal & Robbie Brookside vs. Jimmy Monroe & Dave Duran (World of Sport, 7/30/1988)
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw7WUzseqSA
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ51eGewVPQ...feature=related
YouTube is a real goldmine for all kinds of wrestling (among other things), but the general length of its videos probably suited best to shorter studio matches like this. Nice little studio tag match that like most studio wrestling moves fast to try and pack a lot of action in to a time frame that fits well for TV segments. It is fun seeing fiery young Steve Regal but you also need good heels to play off. Duran has some mean looking headbutts, in the first fall he hits both a nice flying one, and also a spot where he picks up Brookside straight from the mat with a choke then headbutts him in the temple. Thatís a great little thing more heels should probably do, it looks really nasty. I like what Duran does here in general. A lot of really basic heel offense, but it all looks really good. Brookside looks a little raw here at a couple points (of course he could also probably pass for 14, talk about babyface), but overall itís still a good little studio match where everyone gets to show what they can do and overall itís perfectly enjoyable heels vs. young babyface tag action that does a good job getting the crowd behind the young guys. This is the kind of thing that doesnít blow you out of your chair but you can watch a whole ton of because it is the meat and potatoes of what wrestling is all about.
PROMO OF THE WEEK:
One of my all time favourites seems like a good place to begin. Terry Funk shows you how to make friends when you visit Puetro Rico. (Not to be attempted on actual vacations to Puerto Rico.)
I love professional wrestling.
In the end thatís what it all boils down to for all of us into this crazy mixed up world, and I canít think of a better statement to open this blog with. A lot of us have at one point or another taken a hiatus and yet weíve come back, for one reason or another. But those four opening words hold true, at least to certain eras, or wrestlers, or matches, or crazy promos. And so Iím back to try this thing they call being a wrestling fan one more time.
The last week or two has been the first time Iíve watched wrestling since June 13, 2009. For those of you who arenít giant Japanese wrestling junkies, that was the day Mitsuharu Misawa died. I was a big fan of his; if you asked me to list my three favourite wrestlers of all time, I could answer without hesitation Jumbo Tsuruta, Stan Hansen, and Mitsuharu Misawa. It was the last straw at the time in a long, long line of straws that pile up if you really care about wrestling, and Iíd had enough. It is one of the things you have to cope with as a long term, ďsmartened upĒ wrestling fan: this business does bad things to peopleís lifespans. Thatís an unavoidable truth. And thatís not even touching things like Kobashi having a bajillion surgeries on his knees, or Mick Foleyís mass herniated disks. I think I got to the point with wrestling where, for a while, when it came to so much stuff I should have been enjoying as a fan it became too morbid an exercise and it was just time to unplug and be done with it. Iím a very big football fan. Itís not exactly a sport that does a lot of good for your body in the end either. But somehow it was harder to reconcile with wrestling. I was sick of dead heroes, I suppose. I went out cold turkey and stayed out, I thought maybe for good. But, when you remember watching wrestling since literally your earliest memories of TV all the way through being a focus of the whole early phase of your life, shaking something off for good isnít so easily done.
Itís funny the things that can trigger a reaction. I have missed wrestling, to some small degree, but until all those recent theme music polls broke out at DVDVR I didnít really have that much of an itch to do much about it. But then you start listening to those theme musics and they canít help but bring back memories. Mostly good. So you start getting an itch. Then the match listing for the eventually forthcoming 1980ís All Japan set pops up. I look at that, and itís a lot more than the start of an itch. Itís a real desire to watch this stuff, and enjoy the hell out of it at least one more time. There it is plain as day: Jumbo, Tenryu, Terry Funk, Stan Hansen, Flair, Misawa (even if his early stuff isnít really what we remember most), that crazy great Killer Khan vs. Riki Choshu match, Furnas and Kroffat, and just a boat of awesome matches. Am I really going to say no to that? I donít think so. If nothing else I just want to hear people in the Budokan chant along and go nuts for matches and generally make a mockery of that amazingly insane old talking point that ďJapanese fans are quiet and sit on their hands, dontcha knowĒ. People come up with some really weird shit when you leave them to their own devices.
Anyway, I promise my other blog entries wonít look much like this one. Donít worry, there will be plenty of match content forthcoming in my other posts. Mostly I am going to dig into matches from my own collection that I want to revisit, the wrestling I really love. Thatís going to be mostly Japanese stuff, from the 1990ís or earlier (although for now Iím going to avoid All Japan of the 1980ís specifically so as to save that stuff for the forthcoming project on that front). True itís been covered a lot. But this is my blog and if I want to help the glorious information overload on the internet, I will. Iím not that interested in new wrestling (I am 29 so in wrestling fan terms I am a GEEZER that remembers TAPE TRADING on GEOCITIES after all) and my itch for it is really to take a trip down memory lane with the stuff I love, see how itís held up, maybe discover a hidden gem or two along the way. It wonít all be Japanese, because I do truly love good American wrestling too. I hate that stigma that loving Japanese wrestling means U HATE AMURRICA. Fuck that. What a lame talking point that always was. Rude vs. Steamboat Ironman, Wrestlemania X7, The Midnight Express, Ric Flair, The Royal Rumble, the Bill Watts Russian Flag angle, the random alternate universe of Bischoff-era WCW Saturday Night, Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, Terry Funk getting kicked in the head by a horse on WCW ThunderÖ yeah. I could go on and on. There is a lot of stuff out there I love, from the sublime to the ridiculous. But to try and add a bit more and keep it from being too much of a niche Iíve also decided Iím going to dig into other things that will be new to me, usually Iím hoping something I can link to off of YouTube so we can all share the love (or INTERNET OUTRAGE) together. And Iím thinking about throwing in a ďpromo of the weekĒ clip just for the hell of it, because that stuff deserves a lot of love too.
Hopefully I can aim for one post a week, maybe one thing out of my own collection, something new to me off YouTube (Iím sensing the possibility of random Steve Regal, finally checking out Buddy Rose a bit more, and who knows what else), and a promo, which shouldnít be terribly overwhelming for time, and hopefully some people enjoy it. Some time in the next few days I will get this started and Iíll try and keep it going as a weekly thing. A celebration of all the fun we have with this, and why no matter what flaws it has we still love pro wrestling.