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Tatsumi Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami NJPW

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#41 DGinnetty

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 06:17 AM

Fujinami was not booked to lose that match.

When Maeda hit him with the high kick in the corner, it caught Fujinami just right and he started bleeding buckets.

Maeda was a bit nervous, knowing the finish, so they improvised the double KO finish.

 

The crowd bought it, thankfully, since the NJ vs. UWF feud was red hot at this time.

 

Dan Ginnetty



#42 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 10:20 AM

Fujinami actually had a lot of big time matches in the 90s, but none of them are online. This sucks. I need to fill this void.



#43 Kronos

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 11:48 PM

Fantastic thread! I'm thoroughly entertained. And thanks to random dudes popping up with trivia from time to time, I'm also more informed.

Win win.

#44 William Bologna

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 08:26 PM

IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH FUJINAMI TATSUMI & KENGO KIMURA VS AKIRA MAEDA & OSAMU KIDO 8/5/1986
 
Fujinami and Kimura apparently won the tag titles at some point - NJPW World gave us no hint of this happening. But the UWF guys are here to challenge. They're backed up by Yoshiaki Fujiwara, who's in his casual Sunday outfit today - short-sleeve Oxford shirt and white slacks. He looks ready for a barbecue, which he must be late for, since he shakes everyone's hands and leaves before the match begins. The camera follows him the whole time, so I guess something was going on here.

 

Normal stuff until about halfway through, when Maeda unleashes the kickpads and start destroying people. Kimura really gets it this time (I guess Fujinami had learned his lesson). At one point he tags in, kicks Maeda a bunch of times, and then gets absolutely floored by a kick to the face. He was holding his jaw while Maeda had him in a leglock, so there's every possibility that he wasn't selling here. You saw what happened last time - Maeda can't control these things.

 

Kido was pretty good, although he's out of sync with the rest of the UWF guys. He keeps throwing these quick slaps, which are cool but about as shootstyle as a paradise lock.

 

We think the finish is coming when Fujinami ducks a spinning kick only to get caught by another on the rebound. Maeda then tries one in the corner, but Fujinami ducks and Maeda starts selling the leg, which Fujinami takes advantage of. Great sequence.

 

It had no bearing on the actual finish, though, which comes as Kimura (who looks kinda like the singer from A-Ha) is beating up Kido. He goes for an abdominal stretch or something, but Kido cradles him for the pin, the certificates, the trophies, and the belts.

 

Real solid stuff. This isn't a match I'm going to look back on wistfully in the years to come, but it was a fine example of professional wrestling in the age of Greg LeMond and Princess Diana.



#45 William Bologna

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 02:00 AM

FUJINAMI TATSUMI VS BRUISER BRODY 9/19/1986
 
Brody is a guy I'd been talked out of liking before I'd ever seen one of his matches. Looked like a wildman but dull as dishwater once the bell rang, they said. Ate up his opponents and never sold nothing. The poor man's Stan Hansen, if not the poor man's John Nord.

 

I tried to be fair, but he annoyed the hell out of me before the match even started with his monotone yells. He proceeded to squander my goodwill further acting as though pro wrestling had no affect on him. Fujinami gets his back but might as well not be there, as Brody just stands up. Fujinami nearly procures an octopus hold, but Brody slams him out of it. Brody gets caught going to the top for a knee drop (he's the poor man's Togi Makabe!) but despite Fujinami having the element of surprise and solid footing, Brody manages to avoid the humiliation of having a wrestling move done to him.

 

At last Fujinami gets in a little offense, as he works the leg for a while, giving us a nice closeup of the carpet samples on Brody's boots. Brody sells a figure four by yelling, looking slightly annoyed, and then reversing it. Just super compelling stuff here. Fujinami finally gets Brody to sell after he kicks in the knee. This leads to about thirty seconds of knee-related offense until Brody gets bored and tackles him.

 

They do a few sequences here, which don't look bad even though they're mostly Brody winning all the tie-ups and booting Fujinami. Our hero does hit a German suplex hold, which popped the crowd and, thirty-some years later, me. I should mention that while Brody isn't winning me over, the fans are super into him. I don't get it, but these people are presumably big Inoki fans as well, so we're clearly not on the same page.

 

When I saw this matchup, I said to myself "I bet this ends in a double countout." That happened, and it wasn't even one of the better double countouts. Fujinami treats us to one of his patented late-match screwups as he runs into Brody sending them both . . . nowhere. So they have to roll together outside, where they fight a little bit, climb on the apron, and get counted out. This one is right up there on the scale of obvious, half-assed 80s non-finishes.

 

My pain is not over. Brody re-enters the ring, and he and Fujinami have the most perfunctory, half-hearted brawl I've ever seen. They were obviously just checking off an item on the list of stuff that happens in a Bruiser Brody match. The list is complete when Brody gets his rope and chases people around.

 

I understand how affection for the departed can lead people to some outlandish conclusions, like that Tupac was better than Nas or that Roberto Clemente was better than Frank Robinson. But I don't care how murdered he is - I don't know how you look at Hansen vs. Brody and pick Brody.



#46 William Bologna

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 08:46 PM

FUJINAMI TATSUMI VS KENGO KIMURA 12/10/1986

 

They're partners, brothers in arms. But tonight, they are foes.

 

We think it's going to be all respectful as they shake hands, but as soon as Kimura turns his back, Fujinami jumps him. This is war! Wrestling without the romance!

 

No commentary on this one, which is interesting. You can hear the competitors constantly grunting and muttering, which helps gets the match over as a real struggle while they roll around on the mat. It also underscored just how much English the ref was using - "Give up?" "Break!" "One, two, three..." and even "No no no no!" Nothing quite rises to the level of a Tenryu vs Koshinaka (I think) match in which the Japanese ref told the Japanese wrestlers in Japan to "Watch the kicks" in English, but it does demonstrate to what extent English is the lingua franca of professional wrestling.

 

Fujinami dominates the early matwork, which is good and struggly. Eventually we get a rope break, and Kimura gets up selling his arm. Fujinami is behind the ref bouncing in anticipation, and the crowd is ready for something to pop off.

 

It's at this point that they start going a million miles an hour, running the ropes until Fujinami attempts a sunset flip only for Kimura to lean down and smack him right in his damn face. It's here that I realize that Fujinami is heeling a little bit - another slap prompts him to roll outside and whine about closed fists, which Kimura is not throwing.

 

Well, he wasn't throwing them then, but when Fujinami rejoins the action Kimura starts boxing. Fujinami catches fist after fist (the ref doesn't care) and then two piledrivers, but he gets a foot on the rope.

 

They exchange backslides, which I thought was going to be the finish since Fujinami kind of screws his up, and that's something he does at the end of his matches. Finally Kimura runs at Fujinami in the corner only to be greeted with a sunset flip (is that still a sunset flip? Not sure what to call it) for the three count. Fujinami doesn't screw this one up - it looks great.

 

Kimura looks annoyed, but he does finally shake hands and raise Fujinami's arm. I'm glad they worked it out.

 

This was really good. It was fun to watch Fujinami in this role, where he's higher-ranked and cheating a little bit. I can't help but be a bit disappointed by the man's lack of presence, though. He just doesn't have in same way as, say, Choshu or Tsuruta. He's not dull, but he's not as memorable as the super charismatic guys.



#47 G. Badger

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 01:58 AM

FUJINAMI TATSUMI VS BRUISER BRODY 9/19/1986
 
Brody is a guy I'd been talked out of liking before I'd ever seen one of his matches. Looked like a wildman but dull as dishwater once the bell rang, they said. Ate up his opponents and never sold nothing. The poor man's Stan Hansen, if not the poor man's John Nord.
 
I tried to be fair, but he annoyed the hell out of me before the match even started with his monotone yells. He proceeded to squander my goodwill further acting as though pro wrestling had no affect on him. Fujinami gets his back but might as well not be there, as Brody just stands up. Fujinami nearly procures an octopus hold, but Brody slams him out of it. Brody gets caught going to the top for a knee drop (he's the poor man's Togi Makabe!) but despite Fujinami having the element of surprise and solid footing, Brody manages to avoid the humiliation of having a wrestling move done to him.
 
At last Fujinami gets in a little offense, as he works the leg for a while, giving us a nice closeup of the carpet samples on Brody's boots. Brody sells a figure four by yelling, looking slightly annoyed, and then reversing it. Just super compelling stuff here. Fujinami finally gets Brody to sell after he kicks in the knee. This leads to about thirty seconds of knee-related offense until Brody gets bored and tackles him.
 
They do a few sequences here, which don't look bad even though they're mostly Brody winning all the tie-ups and booting Fujinami. Our hero does hit a German suplex hold, which popped the crowd and, thirty-some years later, me. I should mention that while Brody isn't winning me over, the fans are super into him. I don't get it, but these people are presumably big Inoki fans as well, so we're clearly not on the same page.
 
When I saw this matchup, I said to myself "I bet this ends in a double countout." That happened, and it wasn't even one of the better double countouts. Fujinami treats us to one of his patented late-match screwups as he runs into Brody sending them both . . . nowhere. So they have to roll together outside, where they fight a little bit, climb on the apron, and get counted out. This one is right up there on the scale of obvious, half-assed 80s non-finishes.
 
My pain is not over. Brody re-enters the ring, and he and Fujinami have the most perfunctory, half-hearted brawl I've ever seen. They were obviously just checking off an item on the list of stuff that happens in a Bruiser Brody match. The list is complete when Brody gets his rope and chases people around.
 
I understand how affection for the departed can lead people to some outlandish conclusions, like that Tupac was better than Nas or that Roberto Clemente was better than Frank Robinson. But I don't care how murdered he is - I don't know how you look at Hansen vs. Brody and pick Brody.

Regardless a murder joke is in poor taste.

#48 William Bologna

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 09:33 PM

ANTONIO INOKI & KEIJI MUTOH VS FUJINAMI TATSUMI & RIKI CHOSHU 8/20/1987

I guess Choshu's back from All Japan, and I have to say that I don't approve of him and Fujinami as a team. These men were meant to be enemies.

 

And here's Muto! He's a frustrating wrestler. He had (had) breathtaking physical charisma, so it's easy for him to get over in any environment. But he has bad habits, like laying around on the mat for 30 minutes at a time, acting like getting beaten up by Kawada doesn't hurt, and running All Japan Pro Wrestling into the ground. It'll be interesting to see him in his larval form.

 

Lots of drama as we begin. Choshu grabs the microphone to bellow something, and there's a great deal of finger-pointing back and forth. Absent in all this is Inoki's partner. Any of number of dudes in t-shirts that say "FEVER" are in his corner, but no one gets in until they decide to rip off Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck's first ECW tag title win and hustle Muto in from the back. He takes a moment to prepare himself, aided by Inoki slapping him in the face, and we're off.

 

Off to some very deliberate matwork. Lots of it. Choshu gets Inoki in the scorpion deathlock, and that's the only highlight.

 

Every wrestler in Muto's position reenacts the Patroclus story - in over his head, he fights bravely and accomplishes just a little more than you think he can before he is killed. New Japan fans have recently seen Hirai Kawato just Patroclusing his ass off before running off to Mexico.

 

It takes some time for the story to kick in here, but once it does we get something worth watching. Choshu procures a second scorpion on Inoki, and Muto comes in to break it up. He fails, as Fujinami savages him and throws him out of the ring. But the young fellow is undeterred and comes back in to break the hold.

 

Muto has shown his mettle, and he gets to display his skills as he takes over on Fujinami. He hits a piledriver then goes to the top for a moonsault. Fujinami moves, so Muto lands on his feet, runs back to the top, hits a cross-body, and then nails the moonsault. Cool stuff.

 

He gets a few other moments to shine, but it all ends when, with all four men in the ring, Choshu back suplexes him for the three count.

 

Hard feelings after the match ends, as Sakaguchi starts peeling off his clothes as if preparing to throw down. We de-escalate, and then they bring out the trophies. I have no idea what they're for, but congrats to Choshu and Fujinami for winning them.

 

This was a fifteen minute match, and ten of it might as well have not happened. The last five were exciting, if a touch awkward. Everyone seemed just slightly out of sync.

 

And once again, Fujinami was an afterthought. Choshu's sidekick.



#49 William Bologna

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 04:42 PM

ANTONIO INOKI & NOBUHIKO TAKADA & KEIJI MUTOH VS FUJINAMI TATSUMI & SUPER STRONG MACHINE & KUNIAKI KOBAYASHI 9/14/1987
 
They fired up the old random team generator backstage, and this is what we get.

All action early as Takada and Muto team up to just beat the holy hell out of Fujinami. It's a good five minutes of quick tags, dropkicks, kickpad kicks, and various holds. The punishment ramps up as these three continue to do all the work. Fujinami eats a couple backdrop suplexes, a beautiful German, and piledriver, and even a slightly mistimed spike piledriver.

Finally he rolls out of a Boston crab, catches a follow-up kick, and tags in The Machine, who, despite his super strength, immediately gets taken down and leglocked by Inoki.

 

They maintain a frantic pace - Team Inoki takes most of the match, but Inoki has given himself the night off. They tease a confrontation with Fujinami, but he doesn't seem to be in the mood. "Let Muto handle it" is his motto for the evening.

 

With Inoki coasting and Fujinami doing little on offense, the new guys get to shine. Muto's dropkicking dudes all over the place. Kobayashi throws some nice kicks and hits a fisherman's suplex, which the announcer calls a German, so maybe that's still a new one. Machine uses his beefiness effectively.

 

Takada's the biggest standout. He brings the shooty kicks, but he doesn't limit himself. He throws in a dropkick, some pro-style holds, and even a leapfrog. He also wins the match in a completely sweet manner. Kobayashi whips him into the ropes and tries a spin kick, but Takada grabs him mid-kick and rolls him over for the pin. It was very crisp.

 

This was a lot of fun but odd. The two guys you'd expect to be the focus weren't - Inoki did almost literally nothing, and Fujinami just got his ass kicked. Everyone else was great, and they kept it moving.



#50 William Bologna

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 08:31 PM

FUJINAMI TATSUMI & KENGO KIMURA VS MASA SAITO & RIKI CHOSHU ANTONIO INOKI VS RIKI CHOSHU ANTONIO INOKI VS BIG BANG VADER

This is an infamous mess that involves Fujinami only tangentially, so I felt free to skip around. Inoki, Choshu, and Big Bang Vader take turns coming out and yelling into the mic (Vader has Masa Saito do his yelling for him) and having short matches with bad endings.

 

Fujinami and Kimura briefly take on Choshu and Saito, but the crowd isn't paying any attention, preferring to yell something over and over and throw stuff into the ring. Choshu hits one of his embarrassing lariats on Kimura and gets the pin on a one count. It's a special occasion here in the Sumo Hall, and anything goes.

 

We get two more matches after this. They both involve Inoki, and neither involves Fujinami, so I felt no obligation to watch them. I will mention that Ben Bader's offense was lousy at this point, so even I didn't enjoy it when he pinned Inoki after five minutes.

 

Maybe I'd feel differently if I spoke the language, but New Japan's Attitude Era isn't doing a lot for me.



#51 William Bologna

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 06:40 PM

INOKI & FUJINAMI VS VADER & MASA SAITO 4/22/1988

 

Three minutes of highlights. Vader beats up our heroes and looks good doing it. He gets Inoki in the tree of woe and keeps tackling his dick. The referee tries to stop the carnage, but Vader throws him around until he gets DQed (I think) (this doesn't merit a trip to Cagematch).

 

Then we get a further three minutes of Inoki and Fujinami in the locker room talking. The Attitude Era continues.

 

This was short enough that we can squeeze in a programming note. I thought I was almost done with this - the clock would strike Vader Time, and we'd be home free.

 

But I was as foolish as whoever booked Roland Bock, because it turns out that for whatever reason there's a whole other Fujinami tag on New Japan World. The one I've been using is in chronological order and, except for one oddball tag match from 1997, ends with the 80s. The new one plays all your favorite hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s and is chronologically as mixed up as whoever booked El Solar.

 

So much to look forward to! Flair, Tenryu, Bigelow, Hase! Another singles match with Choshu!

 

So basically this is never going to end, and my anticipated Scott Norton retrospective is on hold indefinitely.



#52 William Bologna

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 07:48 PM

IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS FUJINAMI TATSUMI VS RIKI CHOSHU 6/24/1988

 

The IWGP title is still only a year old at this point, and it keeps getting vacated. This match is to fill one of those early vacancies.

 

It was good. It's hard for me to get super enthusiastic about another one between these two, but this was probably the best of them. The crowd's hot, they keep up the pace, and there are some nifty spots. Fujinami does a backdrop into a backbreaker, which I've never seen before. Choshu hits probably the best lariat of his life to knock Fujinami outside, where once again he commences to bleeding.

 

The finish could have been better. Fujinami rolls up Choshu for a two count then rolls him up again for three. I guess the second rollup was one better.

 

So yeah. This was another day at the office. I'm almost sure I'm underrating it, but I doubt I'll remember watching it in a month.



#53 William Bologna

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 08:06 PM

IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT FUJINAMI TATSUMI VS BIG BANG VADER 6/26/1988

 

It's only been two days since Fujinami beat Choshu to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but it's already Vader Time!

 

This early Vader stuff is trying too hard. They gave him a stick with a skull on the end of it and some dumb-looking getup that he takes off, puts on the mat, and prays to. Then he does some kind of haka, and it shoots steam. Fujinami's in the other corner in his regular old black trunks trying not to laugh.

 

All that nonsense aside, ol' Ben Bader's worth watching, although he's plainly a work in progress. He and Fujinami work a standard big guy/little guy match (although given Fujinami's boulderish upper body, the size difference is smaller than I would have thought). Vader does power stuff and Fujinami writhes. Then he does something clever to get out of the way and works on Vader's leg.

 

It's decent but not great - Vader has a tendency to just sit in holds without doing anything to make them interesting, and his greenness betrays him in a few spots when they try to do sequences. Fujinami ducks a punch and turns it into a backdrop suplex, but Vader stands there waiting too artlessly for it to work. Later he forgets to run into a bodyslam, which leaves Fujinami standing there looking dumb until he remembers.

 

It affects the finish as well. Vader whips Fujinami into the ropes and goes for a clothesline, but Fujinami turns it into a backslide for the pin. Vader's just not quite up to the task, and it looks awkward.

 

Still, we're all real excited that Fujinami won. His cornermen (Koshinaka's one of them) lift him up on their shoulders, and Vader takes his frustration out on various chairs and barricades that get in his way.

 

Vader does some things well at this point in his career. He's already doing those cool clubbing punches, and his body language is impressively confident and intimidating, especially when you consider that he'd only been wrestling for a few years and is headlining major shows in a foreign country.

 

He's not great at filling time when he isn't punching, and his execution could use some improvement, but none of that stops this from being a good match. Fujinami is always at his best against foes who aren't anything like him - Estrada, Dynamite Kid, and now Vader.



#54 William Bologna

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 09:22 AM

FUJINAMI TATSUMI & KENGO KIMURA & SHIRO KOSHINAKA VS KEIJI MUTOH & MASAHIRO CHONO & SHINYA HASHIMOTO 7/29/1988

 

It's interesting to see which of the new guys have their stuff figured out and which are still working on it. Koshinaka and Hashimoto are already at the places they wind up - Koshinaka is clean-shaven but has the white pants and ass attacks that will propel him to the highest heights of the midcard. Hashimoto has settled on the bell bottoms and Rubenesque physique that would become his trademarks.

 

Chono, meanwhile, is wearing white trunks that I think say "Tokyo Japan" on the side - makes him look like a tourist. Muto is literally unrecognizable. If his name weren't there in the match description, I wouldn't have known it was he. He looks like Steve Blackman - real jacked, short haircut, goatee. He doesn't do a whole lot in this match (no moonsault), so I really don't think I would have figured out who he was.

 

I don't know what the beef is between these teams, but they hate each other a great deal. Before the match even starts, Chono holds Fujinami so Hashimoto can bounce off the ropes twice and blast him with a kick (rad). Things don't calm down once the bell rings, either. They brawl all over the place. The venue has four poles outside the ring but inside the barricades, and they all take turns bouncing the other guys' heads off them.

 

No blood, though, which made me wonder when they stopped blading. This situation seemed to call for it, and we've seen that Fujinami is perfectly willing.

 

The finish comes with Fujinami putting Muto in a tree of woe position and just beating the hell out of him. This was noticeably vicious, to the point that we don't mind when the match gets waved off. (Not sure what the actual decision was, but the referee - still bursting out of his skintight polo shirt after all these years - would have been well within his rights to disqualify Fujinami.)

 

This was a blast. It was short (under ten minutes) and violent, and it was fun to see the new talent. It's a great performance from Fujinami where he really shows some personality. His blandness has been an issue here and there, but he's on fire here. He really hates those guys!



#55 William Bologna

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 01:31 PM

IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS ANTONIO INOKI 8/8/1988

 

I don't watch hour-long matches unless I'm tricked into it. I went to an ROH pay per view in 2015, and they fooled me into suffering through 60 minutes of Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong repeating spots. I watched the second Okada/Omega match only because I didn't know it was a draw.

 

I've never watched the Kawada vs. Kobashi draw, and I love those guys!

 

So while I can honestly state that this match played in its entirety in my presence, I would not go so far as to say I watched it. I looked up every once in a while to check that it was still going (it was), but that's the extent of it.

 

It actually looked pretty good! Highlights include a weird closeup on the play-by-play announcer's forehead (shiny!), and an instance where Inoki was slapping the hell of Fujinami, who was showing a lot of fighting spirit in letting him do it. The crowd was excellent, and you have to give the competitors credit - an hour in, and they were still going at a fine clip.

 

So while I'd rather get started on my Scott Norton retrospective than watch Inoki roll around for an hour, maybe you should go ahead and watch it if you can stomach draws and really long matches and Antonio Inoki. The reviews elsewhere on this site are ecstatic. It's probably a really good example of that kind of thing.



#56 William Bologna

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 10:52 AM

THE THIRD GAME IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP &闘強SHIRUBEYUME CUP CONTENTION TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS VLADIMIR BERKOVICH 4/24/1989

 

The Russians are here! For a while there in the late 80s, New Japan did its own Rocky IV experiment, bringing over a few hulking Soviets that no one had ever heard of. It's an odd little episode, and its legacy lives on whenever someone looks at a list of IWGP champions and says "Who the hell is Salman Hashimikov?!"

 

I'd love to know more about the negotiations behind this. Were Soviets actually not allowed to go to Japan and pretend to fight before this, or was it just that no one had asked? Whom did they pay for this and how much? Did some minister for fake sporting events agree to sign off only if they got a championship out of it?

 

At any rate, the International Wrestling Grand Prix has never been more international, as Vladimir Berkovich competes for the gold. He's a big fella from what is now Kazakhstan, and he comes from the Gary Albright school of shoot-stylists: singlet, throws, not much else. He's representing his doomed country to the fullest, with a CCCP on the front of his singlet and a hammer and sickle on the back.

 

The competitors lock up and throw each other around until Fujinami throws a leg kick. Berkovich's selling is just great here. He can't believe how much that hurt! He looks betrayed and angry and pained all at once. Fujinami throws another and then one more, but by that point Vlad has figured it out - he catches the kick, traps Fujinami, throws him over his head with a capture suplex. Awesome!

 

Fujinami wins by using his pro wrestling. Snapmare, dropkick, then a backdrop suplex to set up an arm 'n' head submission that I don't know the name of.

 

This was a lot of fun. You can't call a five minute match that drags a bit in the middle great, but it was really interesting and a nice change of pace. Berkovich was a little awkward, but his throws looked great, and his selling was surprisingly good.



#57 William Bologna

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:05 PM

SEVENTH GAME IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP & 闘強 SHIRUBEYUME CUP CONTENTION TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL BIG BANG VADER VS TATSUMI FUJINAMI 4/24/1989

 

Imagine Fujinami's situation here. He's just dispatched a massive commie, and he checks for his next match only to discover that it's scheduled for . . . VADER TIME!

 

We start off hit with Vader hitting a backdrop immediately, which Fujinami sells the hell out of before responding in kind. Then we settle into the bulk of the match - Vader punishes Fujinami until it's time for the smaller man to mount a comeback.

 

Vader has improved noticeably since last we saw him, so this is all really good. He's much better at filling time, and the limb work is interesting.

 

Each man has a game plan: Fujinami is working on Vader's arm, while Vader is working on Fujinami's consciousness. The latter fails first. Fujinami goes for a sunset flip only for Vader to sit on him. This is followed by a splash for the pin and a chance for Mr. Bader to win the IWGP heavyweight championship, if he can get past Hashimoto. But that's beyond the purview of this thread (it's good and you should watch it).

 

This is great, and one of those instances where the Tokyo Dome atmosphere is a plus. If you only watch the matches where tens of thousands sit on their hands while Ultimo Dragon blows spots, it's understandable that you'd think the Dome is no place for a professional wrestling show. But when they're interested, it makes everything that much more impressive.



#58 William Bologna

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 04:39 PM

TATSUMI FUJINAMI RIKI CHOSHU VS VLADIMIR BERKOVICH VICTOR ZANGIEF 5/25/1989

 

It's interesting to what extent these guys have figured out pro wrestling. It's not all the way, but they're making progress. Zangief works in a headlock and a single leg Boston crab, and Berkovich very nearly manages a hot tag. He comes in after his partner's taken a beating, throws Choshu, and then puts up his arms and yells. The crowd is ready for something to happen, but then nothing much does. So close.

 

And that's pretty much how this match goes. There's a move and then they sit in a hold and eventually get up. There's no flow to anything, and it's not very interesting.

 

Fujinami hits a bad piledriver and a dragon sleeper on Berkovich to send the Soviets home. Actually, Berkovich wrestled as late as 1994, but it wasn't again Fujinami so it's none of our business.



#59 William Bologna

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 07:34 PM

IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TATSUMI FUJINAMI & KENGO KIMURA VS KEIJI MUTOH & JUNJI HIRATA 2/8/1997

 

It's the distant future: The year 1997.

 

Much has changed since we last checked in. The Soviets have long since gone home to face uncertain prospects. Vader is off in the WWF getting fat-shamed. Super Strong Machine has abandoned his mask and adopted a fanciful ring name: "Junji Hirata." Keiji Muto has lost some but not all of his hair.

 

It's good to know that even in this unsettling dystopian landscape, some things remain unchanged: Fujinami and Kimura, still teaming, still the champs, still in their boring old black trunks.

 

Hirata was the best part of this. He comes in after some boring matwork straight throwing chops and no-selling. He means business! He has by far the most interesting moveset in this thing. We get a great big beefy senton, two top-rope headbutts, a Ligerbomb, a hammerlock suplex, and a great German.

 

Kimura busts out a powerbomb, but other than that our champions don't seem to have changed things up.

 

Everything other than Hirata is disappointing. The mat work is aimless, obvious time-filler. There's an attempt to get heat by getting a little tiny trickle of blood on Muto and punching him, but it doesn't work (it doesn't help that Kimura is punching him in the back of the head rather than where the blood's coming from). We get the worst outside the ring brawling this side of Scott Steiner and Christian. They have that walkway leading to ring, and even though it was clearly there before the match started, Kimura and Hirata seem surprised by it. Rather than going headfirst into the mat, Hirata has to hop down to the floor.

 

There is some action in the finishing sequence, which is where Hirata pulls out much of his cool offense. Fujinami gets the pin with a backslide - he really hasn't left the 80s. The sound immediately cuts off, so I wonder what his music was. Based on what I remember of 1997, it was almost certainly "Semi-Charmed Life."



#60 William Bologna

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 09:59 PM

WWF JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS CHAVO GUERRERO 8/9/1980
 
I figured out (or had figured out for me) the deal with the two Fujinami tags on New Japan World. What had happened was, Fujinami changed the spelling of his name when he came back from an injury in 1990. This change did not affect the pronunciation - kind of a "Tazz" situation. Or "Hardy Boyz."

 

A quarter of a century later, the interns Gedo hired to do the metadata for these matches missed the fact that "Tatsumi Fujinami" was the same person as "Tatsumi Fujinami."

 

So, if this all made perfect sense, you'd expect all the pre-1990 matches to be under one tag and everything afterwards to covered by the other. That's nearly the case, but there are exceptions. In our last installment, we covered a 1997 match that was the final thing in the first Fujinami tag. Meanwhile, the post-1990 tag includes a solid handful of stuff from the 80s.

 

And that allows to take a trip down memory lane here, as we get a rematch to a May match between Fujinami and Chavo Classic.

 

Shea Stadium (or, as Google Translate has it, "Share stadium") is an unconventional venue. There's grass in all directions, and other than smallish group of people loitering around in big lapels and/or police uniforms, the fans are miles away. Vince is the ring announcer. Texas native Chavo Guerrero has gone full Mexican - introduced as being from the DF and wearing a sombrero with matching costume.

 

This was a fun little match, better than the previous matchup. They do a bunch of clever stuff on the mat. They do the thing where they hit the same move on each and then get up at the same time. Fujinami does an airplane spin, which is pretty dopey.

 

The earn the biggest pop when Fujinami does a dive onto Chavo and the outfield grass, which leaves him with dirt on his ass for the rest of the match. Chavo follows up by teasing a dive but catching himself in the ropes. I approve, as I consider one dive to be the correct number in a junior heavyweight championship match.

 

Things pick up for the finish. Chavo hits a butt attack and misses a flipping senton, there are some reversals as Fujinami tries for a suplex, and finally the champ retains with that move where you put your boots under the guys armpits and roll him over.

 

We get an in-ring Japanese interview post-match. Inoki was on this card (he won), so I guess this was for his benefit.

 

This was just some fun pro wrestling. I missed those early workrate junior matches Fujinami got to do back in the day.







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