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Tatsumi Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami NJPW

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#61 William Bologna

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:11 PM

WWF CERTIFICATION INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP RIKI CHOSHU VS TATSUMI FUJINAMI 4/21/1983
 
We move ahead a few years and find ourselves right back in the middle of the Choshu/Fujinami feud over that butt-ugly WWF International title. This takes place a few weeks after the second and best match, where Choshu won the belt with a rare-as-a-unicorn clean finish in the middle of the ring.
 
Two good things here: 1 ) It tells a simple story. Fujinami has his knee taped up, and Choshu wants to punish him with the scorpion deathlock. B ) Choshu brings a lot of intensity. Fujinami's as Fujinamish as he always is, but his opponent is bringing the heat.
 
Choshu punishes the hell out of Fujinami's knee for ten minutes. He hits a (bad) lariat on the outside, then a (bad) lariat in the ring, and then he locks in the scorpion. But Fujinami refuses to quit! There's fighting spirit all over the mat!
 
So Choshu takes him outside, tree of woes him on the barricade, and strolls back into the ring to enjoy his countout victory. Which, yeah, it's a countout and those are usually bad, but this was great. He did it on purpose, and it made sense. Plus we get the visual of Fujinami in agony among the streamers on the floor, which represent his broken hopes and dreams.
 
Fujinami's fighting spirit propels him back into the ring after the loss, and Choshu beats him up some more until Inoki and everyone else come in make him stop. I was surprised not to hear any boos during the postmatch shenanigans, or any heat at all really. I was popping pretty hard for it, but the fans in the Kuramae Kokugikan weren't interested.

 

This is definitely one of the thirty best Fujinami vs. Choshu matches.



#62 William Bologna

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 04:20 PM

IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TATSUMI FUJINAMI & KENGO KIMURA VS RIKI CHOSHU & SUPER STRONG MACHINE 2/7/1988
 
It's nice to see Machine back to being himself.
 
Fujinami and Kimura jump the challengers, and everyone brawls for a while. We get Kimura as face in peril, but the hot tag to Fujinami isn't all that hot. The crowd isn't particularly into this, and despite a distance of three decades, I can truly sympathize. We're supposed to get all heated up for Choshu, but it just doesn't happen this time.
 
There's a lot sitting around on the mat, and when they do get up and do stuff it's all too fast, if that makes any sense. They're not taking any time to build tension or anything. The wrestling moves are perfunctory.
 
Eventually they beat on Mr. S. Strong Machine, and Fujinami wins with a dragon sleeper. This didn't do anything for me. I already forgot about it.

#63 William Bologna

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 04:18 PM

TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS KURASSSHA, BAM BAM BIGELOW 1/10/1989

 

Let's see if Fujinami can keep up his hot streak against giant, spherical Americans. They're calling Bigelow "Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow," which is just too many nicknames. Is "Bam Bam" supposed to be his real name, and "Crusher" is his nickname?

 

Regardless, Fujinami doesn't wait to start kicking Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow the Bruiser in his legs. Sadly, this can't go on forever, and eventually they have to let Crusher Bam Bam "The American Dream" Bigelow the Bruiser retaliate. His generic, big-man-killing-time-until-the-Hulkster-makes-his-comeback-brother offense really makes you appreciate Vader.

 

Even worse is a brief attempt at martial arts. Bam Bam "The Dragon" Bigelow switched up his stance, and I winced before I even saw his awful karate kick.

 

The only memorable thing about this match comes as Ultimo Bam Bam Bigelow goes to the top rope . . . and falls off. 

 

Fujinami here shows his poise and experience, as he does not miss a beat. No standing around in a stupor, no trying to repeat the spot - he pounces on Bigelow, smirks at the crowd, and goes right on offense. It's so smooth, in fact, that I think this was supposed to be a transition. Bam Bam J.T. Smith Bigelow was supposed to screw up his move, just not quite like that.

 

There's a new contender for worst Fujinami finish. Bigelow hoists his opponent into a vertical suplex position but places him gently on the ropes so he can land on the apron (why would he do that?). He then tries vertically to suplex Fujinami back into the ring, but Fujinami lands on him for what turns out after some soul-searching by the referee to be a three count. Both competitors look confused, and they stand around for a bit until Fujinami leaves.

 

Five minutes, felt longer, huge botch, bad finish.

 

The main event on this show, by the way, was Choshu vs. Vader. It went seven minutes before Vader got himself disqualified. Just a real solid pro wrestling show right here. It's amazing this company is still in business.



#64 William Bologna

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 12:35 AM

TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS KURASSSHA, BAM BAM BIGELOW 1/16/1989

 

As a result of his humiliating, fall-off-the-ropes-like-a-dumbass loss six days ago, Crusher Bam Bam Dr. Death the Lariat Bigelow . . . gets a title shot! Against the guy who just beat him! I don't know what kind of crooked Great White Hype-style commission decides who fights for the IWGP heavyweight championship, but this is awfully fishy. The Diet should look into this.

 

Bigelow tries to show some intensity. I like his demeanor before the match starts - he comes off as intense but nervous, which is appropriate for a title fight. The problem is that he can look all tough and mean, but his work is neither. His stuff is just too loose. Fujinami tries for a sunset flip but is countered by Bigelow sitting on him. But it looks lousy, because Bam Bam barely makes contact. We get an unfortunate closeup of Bigelow throwing strikes at a grounded Fujinami, and he misses by a mile. If I were a wrestler, I'm sure I'd much rather work with Bigelow than Vader. But as a spectator with a sociopathically low level of concern for the physical well-being of others...

 

Bigelow is famous for his agility, but that's not always good. He throws a nifty dropkick, but he also takes a goofy, forced flip bump on an enzuigiri that got an actual chortle out of me. Not the reaction you want in a title match.

 

This is a typical Fujinami vs. large man match. Big guy slams Fujinami; Fujinami writhes amid comebacks. He gets the win on a Thesz press of all things, and the booking has not been doing Fujinami any favors ever since he became a heavyweight. He seldom really beats anyone - you know, KOs them with a dragon suplex or whatever. Back in his junior days, he looked like a killer, but at heavyweight, he's always just barely getting out of there with a sunset flip or a cradle or a countout or something.

 

Meanwhile, Bigelow continues to be out of his element. He looks kind of like Vader; he's shaped like Vader; he does everything worse than Vader. I feel sorry for him having to tag with a much better version of himself.



#65 William Bologna

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 10:25 PM

I cashed in my free month of the WWE Network (I feel just like Carmella!). It's nice enough, but the only way I'm going to pay for it is if I forget to cancel after a month. So while I still have access, here's Tatsumi Fujinami on the WWE Network Gaiden.
 
Johnny Rivera vs. Tatsumi "Dragon" Fujinami WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship 12/17/1979
 
Coming to you from Madison Square Garden, home of the biggest damn wrestling ring I've ever seen. In awe of the size of this ring. Absolute unit. The top rope is up by their ears. Fujinami isn't a towering behemoth or anything, but the ring makes him look like Sky Low Low.
 
Vince is doing commentary all by his lonely. He doesn't know what any of the moves are called.
 
Johnny Rivera is from Puerto Rico and is apparently better known as Invader #3. He and Fujinami have what Vince calls (often) a scientific match - lots of hiptosses and pinning combinations and handshakes. Fujinami wins with a German suplex (Vince: "Look at this!").
 
This fits nicely into the earliest part of the Fujinami story. His WWF junior matches are always fun, but this is more interesting for the setting than for anything that happens in the match.



#66 William Bologna

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Posted Yesterday, 05:31 PM

Tatsumi Fujinami on the WWE Network Gaiden continues.
 
Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka vs. Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner (WCW WrestleWar 5/17/1992)
 
This match is apparently infamous for the Steiners being incompetent, unprofessional, violent pricks.
 
Scott Steiner's main problem, other than rage issues and a reliance on horse steroids, is that his reach exceeds his grasp. He's convinced that he can do these really nifty moves, and when he fucks them it must be someone else's fault. And that someone else needs to get potatoed in order to teach him a lesson about how you shouldn't let a juiced-up halfwit fuck up moves on you.
 
Case in point: Steiner tries a blockbuster suplex on Fujinami and messes it up because it's a stupid move and Steiner's worse at pro wrestling than he thinks he is. He responds to this setback by cuffing Fujinami right in the jaw with a clothesline.
 
Maybe I'm defensive because I've been reviewing the guy's matches for what feels like forever, but who in the hell is Scott Steiner to be stiffing Tatsumi fucking Fujinami? I know his name has a lot of syllables, but he's not some jobber you toss around, you chemical monstrosity.
 
The Steiners are absolutely terrible pro wrestlers. Let's add up all the factors.

  1. They can't get over without ingesting their own body weight in steroids.
  2. They can't get over without doing a bunch of complicated hot moves that they can't pull off.
  3. They can't get over without hurting people.

It makes you appreciate people who are really good at pro wrestling, like Hulk Hogan. Sure, Hogan needed the roids, but he didn't injure anyone, and he knew exactly what he was capable of. He didn't fuck up the hulk-up, you know?
 
It also makes you appreciate shit-talking crippled Scott Steiner. Not only is listening to him do quick maths as good as wrestling gets, his dimished physical state leads to fewer near-manslaughters via ill-conceived suplex.
 
So anyway, this is at a WCW show with Jesse Ventura and Jim Ross on commentary. That's a plus, because Ventura really is the best ever. He's an honest broker: he'll point out that we should be rooting for the Steiners because of the state of Detroit's auto industry, but he'll also point out when the Steiners are cheating. A man you can trust.
 
Gary Cappetta in introducing the match uses what an old professor of mine called the lilies of the field construction, which is poetic if not strictly grammatical: "The following tag team event, it is set for one fall."
 
Iizuka, wearing hot pink, is really good in this. I feel like he gets it a little more than Fujinami. This is a match with no issue (the winning team is #1 contender for the IWGP tag titles! Obviously the fans in Jacksonville are going to be on the edge of their seats for those stakes); the people don't know the Japanese guys. So Iizuka goes out there and does all the hottest stuff he can think of, and he gets some good reactions. I liked one part where he had Scott in a Boston crab. Steiner was about to reverse it, and rather than let him get out, Iizuka rolled him over and tried to pin him. Just a nifty piece of logical wrestling. I feel sorry for the guy - it seems like every time I see him he's getting stiffed by some crowbar. In this one, Rick Steiner crushes his face, and I have a VHS tape on which Mitsuya Nagai kicks him right in his damn throat. It's the hard knock life for Iizuka.
 
So anyway, they beat each other up for a while and Scott fucks up suplexes, and finally Rick hits a belly to belly off the top and pins Iizuka.
 
I hated this. I hated the Steiners. I hated Jim Ross for turning the Steiners' fumbling brutality into a WCW selling point.
 
I liked Iizuka and Jesse Ventura.







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